Please welcome Pandora Poikilos, owner of Orangeberry Book Tours. People either aren’t familiar with the book tour concept or don’t quite understand it, so I asked Pandora to share her insights!
by Pandora Poikilos
Ever since self-publishing has become accessible, author services have also become increasingly popular. You have those who charge you an arm and a leg, then you have those who are so cheap, you wonder if it is too good to be true. How do you differentiate which is a better service? What do you need to know before purchasing any kind of author services? There are many elements to successful self-publishing but I’m not going to focus on all of them. I’m only going to share my experiences about virtual book tours.
A book tour helps an author get bloggers and readers to notice their book. In most cases, a book tour will not generate thousands of sales, but it will get reviews for your book and if done correctly, it can generate a buzz on social media about you and your book. Most tour companies offer a variety of packages. A virtual book tour can range from 5 different blog stops to 60 blog stops.
Some stops will include exposure on Twitter and Facebook. Authors will need to be prepared to answer author interview questions and write guest posts. Some tour companies and blogs only accept original posts so an author will have to be prepared for this. Others will opt to reuse posts. This is entirely up to the author. Do what works for you. But you cannot go on a book tour and not do anything. Just like if you are going on a real life book tour, you will still need to make appearances at bookstores or seminars.
Why do I need to pay for a book tour?
You don’t have to. I know many authors who have had successful book tours which they have set up for themselves. The most recent example will be Frederick Lee Brooke’s excerpt tour for his new release.http://frederickleebrooke.com/
But I see bloggers receiving gifts from book tour companies?
Gifts and payments are two different things. You pay a book tour company. Book tour company sets up raffle for bloggers to create buzz for her site. Blogger receives gift from book tour company, not from you and it may not be for your book. If you are organising a giveaway during your book tour, and are worried about the implications this might have on Amazon reviews, you can request for bloggers to write a disclosure.
For instance, a blogger wins your book via a giveaway, you or the book tour company has organised, blogger then posts a review, it is always best to note this at the bottom. Seems pedantic but hey, better to be clear than have people thinking you are paying people to read your book.
What should I do BEFORE going on a virtual book tour? Do your homework. We recently had an author tell us that she had been cheated by previous social media managers and book tour companies because they were not able to do what she wants. When we asked her for more information, what she wanted was for the title and link to her book to be tweeted every 15 minutes. She didn’t understand that Twitter had rules against this and she didn’t know what a hashtag meant. So I cannot say this enough, do your homework and be specific about what you expect from your book marketing efforts. I want to sell 1 million books is not specific. When do you want to achieve this? How do you want to achieve this? How many books do you have?
Make sure your book is edited and well-formatted. Some authors tend to miss this step and by the time the reviews come in, they become discouraged when the reviews are not positive.
Be sure to read and understand what a book tour is. Most authors go on a virtual book tour because of the hype but don’t understand what it actually is. Each tour company does things differently so an author needs to understand what the elements are to ensure their book receives the most exposure.
For instance, what is the difference between top posts and high traffic. While some book tour companies can guarantee you top posts, these blogs may not be high traffic blogs. High traffic blogs may not be able to give you the first post in the morning which usually gets the most traffic and may not be able to give you top post because they post more than once.
Does a good Alexa rank mean the blog gets high traffic? High traffic, yes. Good traffic for your book, that’s a different story. A good Alexa rank but little or no social media interaction is also not good for your book. You need bloggers who have a high number of readers which can be assessed via RSS feed, Google Plus and GoodReads.
The other thing to look for is bloggers who are able to review your book. Admittedly, most have a high TBR (to be read) pile and on most tours, blog hosts know that the review must be up by the end of the tour. If authors are setting up their own book tours, this is something that they need to look at as well. If a blog gets high traffic but can’t review your book the instant you want it, be patient. Unless your book is badly edited, most blog hosts will post their reviews as soon as they finish.
In other words, if you are planning a new release, an author must take all this into account before releasing his or her book. For any book tour, new release or not, an author needs to plan at least 3 weeks in advance.
What are some common mistakes that authors make when it comes to book tours? Unrealistic expectations, is the top of my list. Most authors attempt one marketing effort be it advertising or a book tour and that’s it. When book sales don’t improve, it’s written down as disappointment or a failed attempt.
Let’s look at self-published authors like JA Konrath, Rachel Thompson, Bob Mayer, Terri Giuliano Long and Melissa Foster. They all have varied social media interaction levels. But the one thing that they all have in common is at one point or another, you cannot be in the blogosphere and not hear about them. Be it through their blogs, Twitter, Facebook, GoodReads, online advertising, events, new releases or articles on other websites.
Point – they are always doing something. Yes, they are not screaming “buy my book” but when you see them enough, you will go buy their books and you will tell others who will also buy their books. That’s marketing. Harassing people to buy your book isn’t. Reminding bloggers every day to review your book is not marketing. Sending private messages to 100 people on Facebook to say you’re “unfriending” them so they can like your FB page and get instant updates about your book is not marketing. Even if you are not writing full time and you have a day job, set a marketing budget. Monthly or quarterly and use it wisely.
I usually recommend a budget of no less than $100 a month. This is about $3 a day. Some authors go as low as $25 a month, this works as well and is better used for an ad on GoodReads. Utilise the giveaway option on GoodReads. Interact with readers. Don’t talk about your book all the time. Look at websites like BookBuzzr, Kindle Nation, eReaderNews Today, Book Bub and Author Marketing Club who have affordable marketing options.
Some high traffic blogs have opted for blog advertising. When you sign up for advertising via their sites, you are able to view stats on how frequently your ad will be viewed. Try different tour companies as each tour company uses different bloggers. Maximise these options.
You can’t do all of this in one go but you can do it one at a time or progressively try what works for you and your book. Choose dates wisely and expect the unexpected. We once had an author who was having a KDP Select promotion for her children’s book. The first day it went free was the same day as the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings. Despite her marketing efforts, her book was downloaded less than 100 times for the entire three days. Anticipate that things beyond your control can and will go wrong.
But wait, Pandora, you said you’re going to share the secret of a successful virtual book tour.
Yes, I did say that didn’t I? Well, the secret to a any good book marketing isn’t just about one book tour or one advertising campaign. The secret is Y-O-U.
Each marketing effort produces different results for different authors and different books. Irrelevant of what some books will say, there is no fast track to increasing book sales. It takes effort, money and time. Marketing your book is not a race and it does not have a finish line. In the words of JA Konrath, “eBooks are forever.”
I’m thrilled to announce that my latest release, Broken Pieces, made the finals of the eFestival of Words Awards. If you’d like to vote, here’s the link (note: you do have to create an account with an email and password only, then click on Awards Hall for Nonfiction). Thank you!
Rachel Thompson is the author of newly released BadRedhead Media 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge: How to energize your book sales in a month - created to help authors market their book. She is also the author of Broken Places (one of IndieReader's "Best of 2015" top books and 2015 Honorable Mention Winner in the San Francisco Book Festival), and the multi award-winning Broken Pieces, as well as two additional humor books, A Walk In The Snark and Mancode: Exposed. She owns BadRedhead Media, creating effective social media and book marketing campaigns for authors. Her articles appear regularly in The Huffington Post, IndieReader.com, The San Francisco Book Review (BadRedhead Says…), 12Most.com, BookPromotion.com, and Self-Publishers Monthly. Not just an advocate for sexual abuse survivors, Rachel is the creator and founder of the hashtag phenomenon #MondayBlogs, #BookMarketingChat (co-hosted with Melissa Flickinger) and #SexAbuseChat, co-hosted with certified therapist/survivor, Bobbi Parish all live Twitter chats. She hates walks in the rain, running out of coffee, and coconut. She lives in California with her family.