Virtual Blog Tours: The Good, Bad. . .and Ugly

I don’t like to “assume” that people know things. You know why 🙂

So, let’s be real about book tours and accept a few truths about them.

  1. If you are self-published, no major chain bookstore or discount store will shelve you, much less host your signings. I know, it SUCKS. You may not have known that before you signed the dotted line. Let’s remember that next time.
  2. If you indie publish, you’re not going to get rich doing book tours alone. Let’s say “rich” is $500,000. Bookstores take between 48%-50% of your retail price at signings. At a $12 retail price (you’d get a little over $6 max), to get “rich,” you’d have to sell 83,000 books. Forty books per signing (for an unknown author) is GREAT. But, at that rate, you’d have to visit 2,100 cities. Mainstream published authors get no better than 15% per copy. You’d have to sell almost 300,000 books.
  3. You can book your own tour, but it’s A LOT OF WORK. You need: a.) a PR person or adequate substitute, b.) a press kit (headshot, media release, synopsis), and most importantly, c.) a proven tie to the area for a regular tour. To solicit a book blogger, you will have to submit to them, not unlike what you would do for an agent. And there’s no guarantee you can be successful without some sort of prior established relationship.
There are many benefits to virtual book tours. No travel expenses helps if you’re on a tight budget. You’re reaching out to a different crowd than your “warm market.” Promotion can be entirely online and for free. You can do it for a wide range of costs. And, if someone google searches your book title, the SEO results will be lovely, which adds to your credibility as a writer.
Kick the tires, though, before making a commitment. In evaluating an opportunity to go on a virtual tour, there are  factors to consider.
  • Extra cost. You have to pay for the shipping materials, the book itself, and the postage. For me, this ran about $8 for every physical copy I had to produce. And most book bloggers still prefer them that way. If you do 20 bloggers, that’s $160 in addition to the fee you pay the book tour people.
  • Prominence of book blogger. How many people follow the blog of the reviewer? Read through their blog archives. Is there author-reader interaction?
  • Timeline. Will the reviewer commit to having your review by a certain date? If not, are you OK with that?
  • Commitment. What is the reviewer volunteering to do? Post a review of your book? Post a Q&A with you? Both? You don’t want to pay for a blog tour expecting one thing and then receive another. Remember, they’re voluntarily reviewing your book. Even if they don’t do what they agreed to do, there’s not much you can do about it.
Next time, let’s evaluate a few companies and see what they have to offer you.
Brian Thompson’s passion is motivating and encouraging others to write and to pursue Do-It-Yourself publishing. He is also author of the Christian fiction thrillers The Lost Testament, and The Revelation Gate. You can read more about Brian by visiting his author site.

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