Tips for authors: How to do a “virtual book tour”

With Out of Breath‘s virtual book launch party taking place on Monday (you’re invited!), I wanted to offer a few tips for all authors on how to create a virtual book tour.

So, what is a “virtual book tour”? It’s simply another way to get out there and do what authors do — talk about your book, connect with readers, answer questions — only this way, you’re doing it all virtually instead of live and in person. The nice thing about this is that, unlike with a live book tour, on a virtual tour you can wear yoga pants the whole time (unless, of course, you go onto Skype or do any video chats). A virtual book tour is perfect for authors who can’t travel — and it’s also a great way to supplement an in-person tour.

Here are a few ways you can promote your book virtually:

– Host (or ask your publisher or a friend to host) a book launch party (join us on Halloween to see what it’s all about!)

– Be a guest blogger on several writer/reader blogs, offering insider news and info about your book and/or its topic

– Schedule interviews and/or Q&As on reader/writer blogs

– Offer book giveaways on your own blog and other blogs, as well as on such sites as Goodreads

– Look for opportunities to do taped readings, interviews, and/or podcasts (visit Writers Out Loud, Blog Talk Radio, and Lively Words for examples).

The nice thing about the virtual tour is that the possibilities are seemingly endless: You can go anywhere. The fact that you can do this also makes it a bit overwhelming. A few things to keep in mind…

Just because you can do everything doesn’t mean you must do everything. At least not all at once. Launching a book into the world is a big deal, and it’s tempting to want to do every single thing you can. However, you’ll probably go a little insane if you try this. I suggest a schedule that includes daily events the first week, then tapering it down a bit to 2-3 events per week over the following weeks. This will give you good buzz in the beginning, then allow you to breathe again. And remember that while book promotion is most important in the first few months, promoting your book is a long-term endeavor. Always keep an eye out for new opportunities to share your book with the world.

Start developing relationships early. You don’t want to be rushing to get events lined up at the last minute, and you also don’t want to be demanding of your fellow bloggers. Ideally, you’ll have a good writers’ network in place — if not, start networking well before your pub date. And, most important of all, ask not only what your fellow writers can do for you but what you can do for them: Offer them guest spots on your own blog; ask them how you can help them out, too.

Have FUN! Don’t make book promotion a chore, or you’ll grow to hate it. Doing a great deal of writing and talking in a short period of time can get exhausting, so you’ll have to find your own balance to avoid burning out. And while many people will tell you that you have to base all your events around the book launch date, I’m more of the mindset that “every week is book-launch week” in that, for one, book promotion never really ends; and two, it’s not the end of the world if you don’t fit it all into one week, or even one month. Rather attempt to cram everything into a short period of time, you’ll be better off in the long run if you think about ways to promote your book all year, and all the time.

We look forward to seeing you (virtually) on Halloween! Meanwhile, I hope you’ll join us on Twitter and Facebook, too.

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