In the fast moving world of the digital age, blog tours aren’t an especially new idea; The New York Times was reporting one author’s journey back in 2007. They are however becoming increasingly commonplace and important, especially with the recent huge leaps forward in self-publishing and the competitiveness of the marketplace. It is no surprise that this is a tactic commonly used by some of the more established authors, as well as those trying to get their first effort noticed.

How is a blog tour different from standard online promotion? 

Technically the virtual blog tour is of course “online” but there are significant differences. General online promotion, such as that often used by major publishing houses, will involve creating a buzz for months before and after publication. In contrast, a virtual tour will take place over a designated period of time, usually no more than a month, and will be hosted by a number of blogs who specialize in book reviews and discussion, often based on one genre in particular.

Are blog tours cost saving? 

Compared to the cost of a traditional book tour there is no doubt that there are significant savings to be made by publicizing your book in this way. There will be none of the costs usually associated with reserving hotel rooms or booking tickets for train and air travel. Then there are the many seemingly minor expenses, such as food, that are inevitable when you stay away for lengthy periods of time but quickly add up to substantial amounts of money. Similarly, by physically embarking on a book tour, domestically or internationally, you would be very sensible to have a proper travel policy in place to provide you with insurance cover for any possible pitfalls, no matter how unlikely. With a virtual tour there is of course no need for such a safeguard and thus you will save a few more precious dollars that could be used for additional marketing and promotion.

What other advantages are there for an independent author? 

Aside from the aforementioned financial savings, there are some major advantages to using a virtual book tour:

- The sheer number of people you will reach via this method will (hopefully) outweigh the numbers you would have reached going from bookstore to bookstore.

- For those authors with little existing social media presence (e.g. Facebook), you profit from the hard work that your blog stops have already put in to establishing this audience. In turn your own author’s platform will benefit from any links the blogs post, both at the time and well after the tour has officially ended.

- Genre writers can hone in on blogs that specialize in their particular field, targeting the audience most likely to have an interest in the book’s subject matter. There are blogs for every genre under the sun online; from something as broad as romance to something as specific as dark fantasy.

- Blogs aren’t restricted by geography so will increase the chance of an author reaching a previously untapped market.

How do I set one up?

Unless you are in a position to spend a large amount of time contacting and convincing blog authors that they should be promoting your book free of charge then it will probably be advantageous to use a virtual book tour company. A quick search online will lead you to the major players in the market. Costs vary depending on the length of the tour and number of stops, but you could pay as little as $25 or well into the thousands of dollars for the top end of the market; although for this latter price you could expect additional benefits related to marketing and press activity. If your novel fits into a particular genre then there is a good chance you will find a tour company that can help get your book into the right kind of discerning blogs. 

What is the role of the author during the tour? 

Another difference to a traditional book tour is that authors don’t have to spend hours traveling or waiting behind a desk to sell only a handful of their books. However, it would be naïve to think that there isn’t any work involved because the tour is virtual. Whilst some blogs might be happy just to review your book and leave it like that, others will expect you to participate in a Q & A session, post a guest blog on their site or actively promote your “stop” at their blog on your own website or Facebook page. For those keen to step out from behind the keyboard, there may also be opportunities to participate in podcasts or video interviews. Needless to say, whilst there are major positives to be gained from promoting your independent book in this manner, as with writing the book itself; if you really want to succeed then you will need to put the hard work in.