Monday, April 4, 2011

What Is a Virtual Book Tour? Analyzing the Blog Experience . . .

Literary saints exist in this world, and they are lovers of books who give witness to their experience. 

Many of them are bloggers who provide their followers with insight and guidance. I have just completed a virtual blog tour of my young adult novel Love Ya Like a Sister.

The reviews (in chronological order):
And here is what I've learned from my blog tour--for what it's worth.
  • Life is diverse; reactions to your writing is diverse. As one writer put it: Look to reviews of the classics. Opinions are all over the place. Expect that.
  • Focus on the writing, not the reviews. Without writers, there would be no reviewers. Take what is useful, be truthful, and follow your vision.
  • Marketing is a process of finding your readers and helping them find you. 
  • A tour places you in the public eye. Read People magazine (or, at least, look at the pictures). Who's your role model? Who's not?
  • It would be best to have your marketing platform fully in place before touring--paper and e-books, your blog, Facebook page, forum connections, etc.
So much for the big ideas. How about specifics?

I planned my virtual book tour with a young woman named Jessica (one of three young ladies) at The Teen {Book} Scene, which focuses on young adult books. The tour was organized for free, and the reviewers were mostly young women who are also avid readers. It is part of the activity that drives traffic to their blog sites . . . and it is their joy.

I toured nine blog sites over three weeks (Monday through Saturday), with two "stops" at each blog. Geographically, this "tour" covered the United States and even included one international stop in the West Indies.

One posting for each blog was a review, and the other was a "special," such as an author focus (interview, "Into the Past," "In His Own Words"), a fun-focus (teenage garage sale, "This or That?"), and book-focused specials (character interview, favorite books).

Bloggers were of various ages, some even in high school. One young lady signed up to participate and then went on vacation with her parents. No tour there for me but a good one for her--she was somewhere on a beach. Lucky girl!

What I experienced:
  • Reviews were diverse, ranging from 4 Stars to "I didn't finish the book."
  • The reviews were insightful, truthful, and kind, reflecting the reviewers' perspectives. Who can ask for more?
  • I gained valuable reviews that the reviewers also posted at the book sale sites (Amazon, Smashwords, Goodreads), valuable connections with reviewers, more "followers," and web coverage. I used excerpts from reviews to enhance my novel's webpage. These are very big additions to my marketing plan. At least at this time, two days after the ending of the tour, I have not noticed any jump in sales.
  • I learned not to be a "helicopter parent," hovering over my creation and trying to protect it from the public. It will stand on its own merits, and I've moved on to my next book. (This doesn't mean I'm not marketing!)
  • My writing platform is now fairly established: books available at Amazon/Kindle, Barnes and Noble, and the Smashwords premium catalog. My experiences as an author and publisher allow me now to interact with more authority--based on my experience--on various online forums.
The tour's itinerary is available here.

It has been a little over a year and a half now since I began publishing and developing an online presence. This book tour has pushed me to greater professionalism. 

I thank all those who helped with this tour and hope that my experience will enable me to provide in the future better products--better stories--for those who are interesting in reading.

My next book? The Stone Dragon, a fantasy--due out before the end of this year!

Copyright 2010 by Thomas L. Kepler, all rights reserved


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