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Virtual Book Tours

Emma Walton Hamilton / Blog  / Virtual Book Tours
Virtual Book Tours

Virtual Book Tours

Virtual Book ToursNot too long ago, with the release of a new book, an author went out on a “book tour.”  Depending on the perceived sales potential and the size of the publishing house (as well as the author’s name), this involved the author traveling across the country for a few days to a few months to sign, speak about and otherwise promote the book.  The publisher (or the publishing house’s pr department) would set up a series of radio, TV and newspaper interviews in various cities in conjunction with public appearances and book signings at a combination of independent book stores and chains – usually focusing on those that reported sales to the New York Times or other major newspapers. The more signings, interviews and appearances, the more book sales.

In recent years, as publishing budgets have shrunk and the digital world has gained an ever-more-powerful footing, marketing and pr people have begun to redefine the book tour. While some major authors still occasionally ‘go on the road’, a new mode of publicity has begun to take over as the pr vehicle of choice – the ‘Virtual Book Tour.’

A Virtual Book Tour is one in which the “stops” are websites instead of cities, stores or other ‘real life’ venues.  Authors connect with readers online, via websites, blogs, podcasts, vlogs, teleconferences, chats, web-based articles and reviews, and Internet radio and TV, plus YouTube, Facebook, MySpace and other social networking communities.  Sometimes the author throws a ‘book party’ at his or her own website, but generally speaking he or she is visiting other people’s sites over a period of days or weeks in a structured, co-ordinated effort.  During these visits the author may be interviewed, answer questions from readers, have their book reviewed, or contribute original content in the form of an article, essay, guest blogpost, vlog or podcast.

Just as with ‘real world’ book tours, in order to be successful, the Virtual Book Tour must be a carefully organized and factor in the book’s subject matter and perceived audience.  Well before the tour begins, the highest profile and most related bloggers and website hosts are identified, queried and sent advance copies of the book, as well as media kits including press releases, author bios, photos and other pertinent materials (usually also in digital form).

It’s possible for authors to plan and set-up their own Virtual Book Tours, but as with the old-fashioned kind, tours are often most successful when a specialist is brought in to assist. Most of today’s publishers and marketing/pr agencies are well-versed in managing virtual book tours. In addition, there are some individuals and organizations who have made names for themselves exclusively in the Virtual Book Tour market. Among some of the better-known are Alex Mandossian (“VirtualBookTour“), Kevin Smokler (“”) and John Kremer (“”).

Once the tour begins, it functions in many of the same ways that the ‘real world’ tour does, except that the author never leaves home – and possibly never even gets out of his or her pajamas.

Emma Walton Hamilton
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