The Virtual Book Tour (a primer and example)

I know all about online book tours. Right now I'm smack dab in the midst of one.  You know about them too, because you're here, reading this blog post, and with any luck, you'll be participating in the process shortly with your retweet or share.  The VBT as those in the know like to call it, is an absolute must for any book marketing campaign these days for a number of reasons.  The first is that anything you do online has lasting value - people will continue to come back to it again and again, long after your book signing at the local bookstore (if you've still got one) is a distant memory.  The second is that they're generally inexpensive and ecologically sound (especially compared to in-person events that require fuel to get to). The third is that they're wide reaching - you're not limited geographically and can reach readers in your target market from all over the world, and connect with those readers intimately, even personally (during my last tour, one reader who said they loved my book is now a firm friend, even though she lives in a different country to me).  It's a great way to launch a new book, which is pretty much what I'm doing here with my novel Black Cow, but it's also good for generating buzz and getting things moving on an existing book - maybe six months post-launch, or a year post-launch.

So how do you do it?  You start by identifying a number of blogs with an audience that matches your target.  I've got 20 in mine but that's probably a little excessive!  Try 10.  Mix it up by choosing a range of blogs, a webinar or two, some radio shows, and maybe a few review sites.  Then query them with an offer (it usually helps to offer your book). Begin setting up dates and times as responses come back (I use Excel and Google Calendar to keep track of mine), and when you've got enough positive responses you're ready to begin touring.  It sounds easy, and it is, though the process takes time and the only way to do it right is to query each stop individually, specifically tailoring your offer to them, offering something unique and of value to each host.

At this point you can begin advertising the tour. Put the dates on your blog, tweet it, set it up as an event on Facebook, and start the buzz. Then comes the fun part - you have to write your blog posts.  If you're promoting a new book, then already well-used existing blog posts won't do - you'll need to write new, fresh, relevant ones just for the tour to draw in readers, since that's the whole point of it (that's why 20 is, ahem, excessive).  Get your posts to your hosts at least a week prior to the posting date and include all graphics and some suggested tweets for them. They're doing you a favour so make it easy for them.  Add a giveaway or two and you're on.

Online networking is critical in the book world and whatever you do to help others will definitely come back to you, so be generous in your support of other authors and generous in your own hosting and you'll find the process of gathering stops for your tour relatively easy. 

That's it!  But before you go, please take a little moment to re-tweet this one (use #blackcow), comment, or share it on Facebook, and you'll go into my draw to win one of a number of autographed bookpacks, electronic sets, and limited edition signed promotional items like magnets, stickers, books, bags, and postcards.  And don't forget to invite me to your tour - I'm looking forward to it.

Magdalena Ball is the author of the newly released novel Black Cow. Grab a free mini e-book brochure here:
or visit the Black Cow booksite.


Dr. Mohamed said...

Best wishes on the book tour. I did one a couple years back. It was fun!

Karen Cioffi said...

Great advice Maggie. And, I'm glad you mentioned mixing it up in regard to hosting sites and offerings. The one thing you don't want to do is have the same information at each stop. It's important to provide the visitor with some value for their time.

Karen Cioffi Writing and Marketing

T. Forehand said...

The tours are so much fun and offer the opportunity to meet new readers and other authors. It is a win-win even if it is only a few at a time. Great post with advice we can all use. Thanks for sharing.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

I hope to be with ou, Maggie! And congrats on the book tour. Glad for my to be part of it. And good luck!

Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Excited about the new edition (expanded! updated! even more helpful for writers!) of The Frugal Book Promoter, now a USA Book News award-winner in its own right (

NancyCL said...

Thanks for the great article, Maggie!

Mary Jo Guglielmo said...

I've enjoyed following your tour.

DMS said...

I am so glad that I stopped over here. I learned so much about blog tours- I honestly have seen people doing them, but have never read a post explaining them. Thanks for sharing! I learned so much and I tweeted the post. :)


Debbie A Byrne said...

Thanks for the info Maggie. Someday, I hope to participate in a vbt. This post explains it well.

Anne Duguid Knol said...

I enjoyed following the tour too. I have discovered more new and unusual blogs and thoroughly enjoyed the way each of your posts was specifically tailored to the visited blog. This is such an interesting post. I had not before realized how much time and effort is invested in a good book tour.

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