How to Run a Virtual Book Tour

How to Run a Virtual Book Tour 1024 683 Reader Views

Virtual book tours, or what we call “VBTs,” have become an industry standard for generating media buzz following the release of a book. In the simplest terms, VBTs allow you to get the word out about your book without going anywhere or even talking to anyone. What is so great about them is that because there is no travel involved, it’s not strenuous like a physical book tour, and everything is at your fingertips. And, in covid times, no one can physically tour anyway, so run a virtual book tour.

The idea is that you are getting book bloggers, podcasters, Amazon and Goodreads reviewers, bookstagrammers (people who talk about books on Instagram), and the occasional influencer who doesn’t charge, to talk about your book. This gives a nice digital buzz going about your book, which raises your presence and awareness online, ideally all within that first week of publication.

Below are few steps that will get you started and help you run a virtual book tour:

Choose the date to run it

Typically virtual book tours happen within a five to six-day span around your publication date. So, if your publication date is Tuesday, October 20th, then your virtual book tour would typically run the week of Monday the 19th– Friday, the 23rd. But, if you have already published your book, you can base your virtual book tour around a special date or awareness month that relates to your book’s topic. The key is to strategize the timing of your virtual book tour. A timely date will give potential outlets a call to action, which will make them much more likely to come on board.

Get your media lists organized

Figure out who will be included on your media list and how you will reach out to them. This can be time intensive but is necessary. You will need to do some Google sleuthing to find these people online. Again, you should be going after bloggers, podcasters, Amazon and Goodreads reviewers, bookstagrammers, and influencers.  Focus on getting the bloggers who fall into the specific categories that are relevant to your book. Often, a blog will be much more likely to join the tour if their topic connects to your book.

Pitch, pitch and pitch

Once you have figured out who you are going to reach out to, It’s imperative that you write your virtual book tour pitch to make it sound like something that people will want to get involved with. Let them know that you have resources available for them that will make it very easy for them to join. Keep in mind that this is just a hobby for a lot of these people. This is likely not their full-time job. So, you really have to make it as easy as possible for them to say yes and get on board. Ideally, they will commit to a certain day of the week during your virtual book tour. In your pitch, you want to provide a menu of offerings for them to use. Here are a few things that you should always include:    

  • Press materials that can be turned into a review
  • Electronic copy of your book that you can send so that they can do their own review
  • Offer to send them a physical copy of your book
  • Prewritten Q&A (think pre-written interview) for them to post
  • Excerpt from your book

Put all these documents together in a dropbox, which will make it very easy for them to access through a simple link which you will send to them as they commit. Remember to send reminders during the weeks before the tour and make sure they have all they need.

 Follow up

You will likely have people who don’t end up posting on the day that they said they would post. Life happens, and that’s OK. Just follow up with them and ask nicely when their link will be up. But for the most part, you’ll get 100% follow-through eventually. It’s very important to engage with everyone who participates, and that means responding to their audience. Make sure you follow their social media platforms and respond to comments when they pop up. Also, share the links to the blog posts or podcasts on your social media platforms. If you do your part, it will make it a win-win for you and the outlet.

 Say Thank You

Remember to say “thank you” to everyone who participates in your virtual book tour. It’s always a nice thing to do the week after your tour concludes. If you have any statistics that you can share with outlets on visitors to your site or number of books sold, include those in your thank you email. The goal is to build a lasting relationship with these bloggers, podcasters, and reviewers so that you can reach out to them in the future for coverage. A genuine “thank you” always helps.

Marika Flatt, CEO, PR by the Book

Marika Flatt was hired as a “baby book publicist” in 1997 upon graduating cum laude from Texas A&M University with a degree in Communications. After taking over the management of that boutique literary firm in just a few short years, she & her husband, Doug, launched PR by the Book in 2002, capitalizing on her love of media & books. Marika is a “connector” by nature, is a past-president of Women Communicators of Austin, serves as an Expert for Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA), is listed on Twitter’s Women in Publishing (#womeninpublishing) and has served on the selection committee for the Texas Book Festival. Marika also serves on the advisory board for the San Diego Writers Festival and on the committee for the Women’s Storybook Project, based in Austin.

Marika has been a regular speaker in the book industry since the late ’90s for organizations such as: Digital Book World, IBPA’s Publishing University, Book Expo America, and Writers League of Texas, among others. In her spare time, Marika has been a travel writer for nearly two decades and serves as the Travel Editor for Texas Lifestyle Magazine. Marika can be heard on the statewide NPR show “Texas Standard”, giving her Weekend Trip Tips, and is a regular travel contributor on several TV stations around Texas.  Marika is the proud parent of three teens (none of which love reading as much as she does).

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