In today’s guest post, publicity expert Sandra Beckwith shares some terrific tips for planning a virtual book tour. Be sure to take a look at the book tour pitch letter template that Sandra provides, along with a real-world example of a pitch letter. • Live Webinar presentations
What is a virtual book tour, why do you want to do one, and how do you make it happen?
A virtual book tour is a promotional tactic that lets you interact with bloggers and online media outlets in ways that help you get the word out about your book. Just like an in-person book tour, you select a timeframe for the tour and work to schedule specific appearances. The possibilities include:
• Blog Q&As
• Guest columns on blogs
• Reviews of your book written by key bloggers
• Articles that you write and place in key locations
• Video interviews hosted on the blogs or sites of others
• Blogger hosted contests that offer your book as a prize alongside information about your book
Virtual book tours are worthwhile for any author whose target audience is online. They allow you to connect with readers personally, share enough information about your book to help people decide if they want to buy it, and – this is my favorite part – include a link to a site where people can purchase it immediately. Who doesn’t like instant gratification?
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1. Identify the blogs and online media outlets that reach your target audience.
2. Start becoming “known” on the sites by offering helpful, informative comments on blog postings. In an ideal world, you’ve been doing this all along.
3. Compile a database or grid with each site’s contact name, e-mail address, site URL, notes about the site’s format, and specifics about what you like about the blog. These last two items will help you in the pitching process.
4. Select your tour dates.
5. Send your pitches.
Authors seem to be especially intimidated by that last step – sending the “pitch.” “Pitch” is just another word for sales letter. It’s what you say via e-mail that convinces the blogger or online journalist that they should open the door to some book-related content from you. Because so many authors aren’t sure how to approach bloggers and others, I’ve included a virtual book tour e-mail pitch template in Build Book Buzz Publicity Forms & Templates, my fill-in-the-blanks collection of media relations templates and forms (along with corresponding samples) that authors use when generating priceless publicity for their books. Sandra Beckwith is a former national award-winning publicist who now teaches authors how to be their own book publicists. She publishes the free book publicity e-zine, Build Book Buzz, teaches two book publicity e-courses, and offers other instructional materials for authors who want more exposure for their books. Get her free special report, Beyond the Press Release: 10 Exciting Book Buzz Ideas That Will Take You to the Top, when you subscribe to her free newsletter at www.buildbookbuzz.com. Sandra is also the author of three books, including one about publicity for small businesses and another on publicity for nonprofits. Get more publicity tips at her blog.
To help you see how easy this is to do, I’m giving you the virtual book tour e-mail pitch template here, and providing you with an annotated sample here. (Note that while we are providing PDF files here as examples, the templates in Build Book Buzz Publicity Forms & Templates are actually in Word format so that you can copy and paste them into new Word files and fill in the forms right on your screen. This also lets you re-use each template or form over and over again.)
You don’t use the template in a vacuum, though. That’s where the database or grid you’ve created comes in. What you pitch to one blog might not work for another, so you use your notes in the grid to help you decide what to offer each individual site. Sometimes it’s real obvious – you wouldn’t offer the host of an online radio program or podcast an article. You’d stress that you’re an interesting and animated guest – the kind of person that people will want to listen to. If you’ve noticed that the blogger or media site uses a lot of guest columns, that’s what you should pitch, and perhaps add a few suggested column topics to your pitch, too. It’s definitely not a one-size-fits-all process, which is why you don’t use a mass e-mail approach for this. Every site contact gets an individually crafted pitch.
You’ll need to add a few more columns or fields to your database or grid for response tracking – both theirs and yours. Note what and when you hear from those you’ve contacted, how and when you responded, and due dates for content or next steps. Then keep your calendar handy so you can log all activity appropriately and deliver what you’ve promised when you’ve promised it.
Virtual book tours truly are fun and easy! I hope you have fun with yours. And do let me know if you have questions – just send me a note!
About the Author
Sandra Beckwith is a former national award-winning publicist who now teaches authors how to be their own book publicists. She publishes the free book publicity e-zine, Build Book Buzz, teaches two book publicity e-courses, and offers other instructional materials for authors who want more exposure for their books. Get her free special report, Beyond the Press Release: 10 Exciting Book Buzz Ideas That Will Take You to the Top, when you subscribe to her free newsletter at www.buildbookbuzz.com. Sandra is also the author of three books, including one about publicity for small businesses and another on publicity for nonprofits. Get more publicity tips at her blog.