It looks like Covid is going to be around for awhile. Living in the age of a Pandemic has been a real game changer. It has required resilience, resourcefulness, and risk management like never before in order to go the distance, and maintain your sanity. Particularly for self-publishing authors.
Even before the virus, brick and mortar bookstores were closing because they couldn’t compete with Amazon. Based on local cases, venues have been closed, opened, closed, open, etc. The entire world seems to be dealing with staffing shortages. All of these factors, and more, have changed the landscape for today’s author and tomorrow’s earnings.
This can perhaps be frustrating for some of us more traditional authors. However, for optimal success, it behooves us to change with the times. Accordingly, there’s good news here. There’s great validity to the expression “when one door closes another one opens.” Time to step into the future.
ENTER VIRTUAL BOOK TOURS
According to best-selling author Nina Amir: “The days of book tours are dead and gone. It’s a rare author who spends time and money going from city to city to do signings or encourage shoppers in physical book stores to purchase a new release. It’s even more rare to find a publisher who will put funds into this type of promotion. Today, book tours, like everything else, have gone virtual.”
Before we explore how to navigate a book tour successfully to increase your visibility and your bottom line, let’s examine some of the advantages for today‘s authors:
1. IT OFFERS CONVENIENCE
You no longer have to drive in bumper to bumper traffic to the venue of choice, nor be limited to a store’s hours of operation. Virtual book tours can be scheduled any time of day or night, and any day of the week, including holidays.
2. AUTHORS CAN CONNECT WITH A BROADER READERSHIP
Instead of being limited to a store’s maximum occupancy rules and regulations, you can reach thousands of readers potentially across the globe. More eyes translates into more potential buys. Hello!
3. IT CAN HELP BUILD YOUR MAILING LIST
Author Nina Amir also shares: “A virtual book tour can help you build your mailing list. At the end of each one of your guest blog posts or interviews, you can provide an incentive for readers (or listeners) to visit your blog and sign up of your mailing list. You can then contact these subscribers, which means you have a second opportunity to mention your book.”
4. IT’S A SAFE ALTERNATIVE TO IN-STORE SIGNINGS
It seems that every time I turn on the news, there are different safety protocols and Covid-19 updates. “Wear an N-95 mask, instead of plain cloth. Quarantine for 5 days instead of 10. Maintain appropriate distancing, etc.” Things can get a little confusing and chaotic. Virtual book tours pose no safety risks or rules to remember. Kick back and relax.
5. YOU CAN PROMOTE OTHER PROJECTS
Things like classes you teach, upcoming titles, services offered, or your blog/website. This gives you more bang for your buck.
6. YOU CAN FORM SUPPORTIVE ALLIANCES WITH OTHER BLOGGERS AND TOUR PARTICIPANTS
In my online travels, I have met many writers, bloggers, designers, and individuals who have shared their time, talent and resources to help me create a “buzz“ around a book or service. Some have collaborated on future projects as well.
7. THEY ARE AFFORDABLE
Some sites will feature your book for free while others may charge a nominal fee.
5 TIPS FOR OPTIMAL SUCCESS:
1. Recognize that pre-planning provides for the best experience.
Your goals will dictate your game plan. Would you like to “tour” at six stops or ten? In different niches? Do you have budget considerations? Assess and address accordingly.
2. Decide whether you will organize and manage your own tour, or enlist the services of a professional marketer or blog tour company.
Either option has its advantages and disadvantages.
3. Have realistic expectations to minimize stress and maximize your sales.
For example, it’s highly unlikely (no matter how great your book may be), to expect to make enough money to quit your day job, or to be booked on the late night show with Jimmy Kimmel. Better instead to simply expect a bigger fan base and modest sales (that you might not have otherwise garnered) to compensate for your time.
4. Don’t have a “Helter Skelter” approach. Be strategic.
When possible, conduct research so that your book and its related topic fits with your targeted readership and the blog site intended for your upcoming tour. Doing so helps you to “work smarter, not harder.”
For example, if you are promoting your book on successful parenting, choosing a site that hosts, or is hosted by, the popular mommy blogger influencers might be a good start.
5. During your travels, offer an array of options to publicize your book and connect with readers.
Blog tours can consist of: book highlights, cover reveals, author interviews, Q&A, contests, and give-aways.
Remember that repetition reinforces. The more readers see your name and book title on different sites, the more your brand is solidified in potential customers’ minds, and the easier it becomes to stay relevant, build your author platform, create a buzz, and get paid.
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Jennifer Brown Banks is a veteran freelance writer, award-winning blogger and publicist. Learn more at her site Penandprosper.blogspot.com.
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