Virtual book tours are all the rage right now. I mean, literally, everyone is doing them. From Indies to small press to traditionally published authors. They are a cost-effective way to potentially reach a lot of readers and get your work out into those readers' hands. I am an author, tour host, and tour organizer. I can see this baby from all sides and for this post, I've compiled just a few things I've learned from my experiences about what makes tours successful or not.
Having the right hosts can make all the difference. I have set up all of my own tours so far and usually hand pick my hosts. But not everyone has time to do this and most usually go through a tour company to get it done. As a tour organizer, I don't always have the luxury of saying no to hosts, especially if I'm down to the wire and still have spots to fill. Sometimes having any host rather than no host is good. Sometimes it can work against you. Especially if that blog/site isn't geared toward readers who might actually pick up your book. It can be such a win/lose sometimes.
But reaching the right readers is the best way to get the most out of a tour, I think. And it starts with picking the right tour hosts.
I think so many authors end up with their feelings hurt because they expected their sci-fi book to attract the types of hosts that they've seen romance tours attract. This is an unrealistic expectation. Romance is the biggest (and I believe, the most loved) genre of all. Of course, a sci-fi tour isn't going to pull the same type of attention. Despite what tour company you sign up with or how pretty your book cover is, sci-fi doesn't have the same pull as romance. Same goes for mystery/suspense and horror. In my eyes, it's just an unrealistic expectation to have. Some might disagree, but that's okay.
I know you're like...WHAAAA??
Yup. Your book cover is a selling point. Not just for attracting readers, but for attracting tour hosts as well. As a tour host, I check out the book cover first, then I read the synopsis. I'm actually about to start being way more particular about the books showcased on my book blog because of the book covers and the genres. Pretty book covers make my blog look good and I've noticed that my readers like certain genres better than others. I know this may seem stupid to some of you, but just keep it in mind. Let it marinate a bit.
This applies to reviews, of course. Because most tour hosts are already very busy people, they typically like to review books with smaller word counts. As an author, I found this out very quickly. Though my first series is YA fantasy (in particular, Greek mythology) and is a very loved genre, my high word counts are sometimes deterrents to readers. Yes, I feel they are necessary to tell the HUGE story, but sometimes people just don't have time for that. Especially with a tour deadline attached.
What is the goal of your blog tour? I'm sure you're thinking, "Duh, DeeJay. To sell more books.
Is that all? Because if it is, most of you will be disappointed every time.
Mark and I were just discussing that today. Some authors can do very little and sell books. Others have to damn near go door-to-door to sell a single copy. We don't understand it anymore than you do. So with that said, if you go into a tour with high expectations that your book sales will blow through the roof by the time it's done, you're in for a rude awakening.
Sure, it's only natural for us to expect some kind of sales boost. I usually see a boost while on tour, but then it usually tapers off (more my fault than anything). Some don't see anything at all, and that's to be expected as well.
Reviews. After sales, I think reviews are what most authors are hoping to get out of the deal. All of the things mentioned above will affect how many reviews you get as well. Just keep in mind that neither you nor the tour company you may hire can force anyone to review your book. So you have to make a decision whether to accept the type of post the host is willing to do, or pass on that host all together.
It's just wise to keep an open mind about this. I really like touring because it gets my name and work out there. Have you ever ran across a book so many times that you just have to finally check it out? That's happened to me more times than I can count. It's about repetition. They keep shoving it in my face, now I have to check out the book!
A lot of times, it's because a lot of the blogs I read are all pushing it at the same time via blog tours, book blasts, etc. And even if I don't buy it right then, I put in on my to-read list as do many readers. For some of you, this isn't good enough and that's honestly, just too bad. This is, in my opinion, the more realistic outcome of a blog tour. Just send the book into their atmosphere. What happens from there, is what happens from there. It's really out of your control at that point.
An Added Benefit
This may not matter to some, but in my eyes, it's very important. Blog tours are good ways to grow your social media reach. Usually, giveaways are the cause of social media growth, and as generic as that is, it's still a good thing. I've noticed that even if I gain followers from giveaways and tours, for the most part, they remain my followers even after the tour is over. That is a win, guys. Now I have a bigger audience to share my message with. The more readers, the more interaction. Do you see where I'm going with this?
There are people out there who say that Facebook likes and Twitter follows are useless and empty. Don't listen to them. Grow your readership however you can and let the haters say what they want.
These are just a few things I've come across and learned during my time dealing with blog tours. I learn something new everyday and I'm sure a year from now I'll have two or three posts worth of stuff to share with you.
But for now, what are some other things you feel can make tours successful?