Thursday, July 9, 2015

The Skinny on Virtual Book Tours

Updated 1/28/22

What is a virtual book tour?

A  virtual book tour (aka blog tour) consists of lining up a series of bloggers to review your upcoming book (and/or conduct author interviews) during a time frame that corresponds to the release of your title. It is, as the name suggests, the internet version of an old-fashioned, in-the-flesh book tour.

Purpose of a virtual book tour

The purpose of a blog tour is to generate interest in your book. (This is called buzz.) That interest should pay off in sales, but it won't if you don't capitalize on it with other promotional tools such as giveaways, well-placed author interviews, and, of course, promotion of your blog tour on Twitter, Facebook, and on your own blog and website. Building an audience takes time, energy and planning. A blog tour is just a part of your promotional plan.

How effective is a virtual book tour?

That depends entirely on where reviews, spotlights, and interviews are posted. Highly trafficked sites will be more effective than sites with just a few followers. If you plan it right, a book tour that includes influential sites can create considerable buzz. The difficulty many Indie authors face is that they don't have the time it takes to research well-trafficked sites. And, of course, tours require some planning. Requests need to be sent out two to three months in advance of the release date.

Be aware that you will have to send out hundreds of email requests to get a decent number of reviews. (Unless you have written a steamy romance, the return rate is generally less than 10%.) But even 20 well-placed reviews and interviews can be highly effective. The reviews may not necessarily generate a lot of sales, but your name and the title of your book will have appeared on the net in 20 locations - hopefully with back links to your website - which will increase your exposure on search engines. (Don't forget to check if reviewers cross-post on Amazon and other venues, which will increase the reach of their review exponentially.)

To find bloggers in your genre see:

Top 12 Sites for Finding Reviewers




Top 5 Online Resources for Children's and YA Book Writers

12 Scifi and Fantasy Review Sites for Self-Published Authors

Mega-List of Fantasy and Sci-fi Reviewers Accepting Self-Published Authors

You can also do a google search on "[Your genre] book reviews." This will yield you thousands of hits.

How long should a blog tour last?

In general, the length of the book tour is determined by the number of hosts. Ideally, you want one or two bloggers a day to be talking about your book. That means a 1-week tour may have between 7 and 14 bloggers. A 2-week tour would have 14 - 28. The reason you don't want everyone talking about your book at once is that, just like a conversation, it will be impossible for readers to pay attention. On the net, too much simultaneous talk looks like spam, which people routinely tune out.

Measuring success

Many authors measure the success of a blog tour by how many books they sell. (Be sure to look at your KDP, Nook, or Smashwords dashboard before you embark on a tour so you will have a point of comparison.) But there are other ways to measure success.

Getting your name out there is important, not just for your current book, but for future books. One way to determine if your blog tour is increasing your visibility is to sign up for Google Alerts, and create alerts for your name and for your book title. You can compare how often you are mentioned before and after the tour. Keep tracking to see if the buzz continues, and when it starts falling off. That will give you a time frame for how successful your tour has been, and it will allow you gauge the success of your other promotions. What you want to see is steady conversation about you and your book for several weeks prior to the release, and a couple of weeks after. (Don't forget to arrange for pre-orders. Amazon offers that feature as does Smashwords.)

Increased traffic to your blog and/or website is also a measurement of success. How many people visit your website during the tour, and are they following? (If you don't already have an email sign-up feature for your blog or website, now would be the time,) Followers are your fans! Don't be shy about sending them your news.

Book tour services

In light of the planing involved, some authors turn to book tour services rather than spend the time to organize their own tours. There are a couple of advantages to using a book tour service: 1) You don't have to do all the work, and 2) Tour services have lists of hundreds of reviewers and social media outlets.

There are also disadvantages: 1) There is no guarantee that the reviewers the tour services have on their lists will actually review your book, 2) The review sites may not be well-trafficked, and 3) You have to pay, sometimes quite a bit, for the service.

What to look for in a book tour service

First, check out their stats. If their site ranks in the millions on Alexa, it means they get very little traffic. (The lower the number the better. Numbers in the hundreds of thousands are good.)

Next, check to see who is on their list of bloggers. How many bloggers are listed? (Make sure it's a lot.) Go to those sites and check how many followers they have. This may be time consuming, but if the blog sites have few followers, it will do you little good to have them post an interview or review. While you are checking for followers, do a quick check for comments on posts, an "about" page, and other indications that the blogs are not "dummy blogs." (Some virtual book tour services have been known to set up fake blogs.)

Lastly, look for services that provide things you either can't or don't want to do yourself. These may include:
  • A banner
  • Posting on Net Galley
  • Distribution of a promotional package
Remember, tour services need to be for your genre. There is no point hiring a tour service that caters to romance bloggers if you write thrillers. So, examine the host blogs carefully.

Best services

Experiences with tour services vary tremendously, but there are a few that have been consistently recommended by authors. I've listed those which have decent site traffic, good social networking, and a large enough number of participating bloggers to make it worth your while.

Keep in mind that the success of a tour depends largely on how much an author is willing to contribute (e.g. contacting the blog hosts personally, making sure your website is current and mentions the tour, composing interviews and promotional material to send to hosts). Prices vary widely, and they do not always correspond with value.

For more information about paid blog tours see:

A Comparison of Book Blog Tour Services (Read the comment section)

7 Top eBook Blog Tour Sites 



For using social networks to set up your own tour, watch this informative video:

Setting Up A Blog Tour in 2015 - Social Media Platforms (Pt 4)
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Xpresso Book Tours

Alexa Global rank: 245,353

Genre: Young Adult and New Adult in all genres 

What they offer:

Cover Reveal $40
  • No limit on participants (average is 40 - 60)
  • One day
  • Maximum Social Media Exposure through participating blogs
  • Should be planned 3 to 4 weeks in advance
  • Only for covers that have not been released anywhere online
Book Blitz $90
  • One day or window to post
  • No limit on participants (average is 70-90)
  • Maximum Social Media Exposure through participating blogs
  • Should be planned 3 to 5 weeks in advance
  • Must include a giveaway (one per blog or one shared Rafflecopter prize–note that one per blog will get you the most participants = more exposure.)
Review Query $50
  • Connect your book with thousands of bloggers, readers, and reviewers from both our host list and 30k/month page views;
  • Save hours from querying bloggers individually;
  • No wait list for this service! Can be posted within 2 business days.
Packages

All of the following packages include:
  • Reviews/Excerpts/Guest Posts
  • Custom Tour Banner
  • Media kit
  • Advertisement on Xpresso Reads (30,000+ views/month)
  • Social media promo: Tour kick off post on Xpresso Reads’ Facebook Page (4,000+ Likes) + 
  • Daily tour promotion on Twitter @XpressoReads (26,000+ followers)
  • A personalized Tour Page at Xpresso Book Tours (example)
  • Reviews/Excerpts/Guest Posts
Reviews to the max $170
  • 6 days
  • Maximum sign ups (up to 40 blogs)
  • May include giveaways *Encouraged*
Rock the Block $120
  • 1 week
  • ~15 tour stops
Rock the Town $170
  • 1 to 2 weeks (your choice)
  • ~20 tour stops
Rock the World $225
  • 1 to 3 weeks (your choice)
  • ~30 tour stops
Rock the Stars $280
  • 1 to 4 weeks (your choice)
  • ~40 tour stops
______________________________
Enchanted Book Promotions

The advantage of this blog tour service is that you can view their previous promotions. This will give you a good idea of what they have to offer, as well as a point of comparison for other blog tour services.

Genres: Fiction (all genres) and nonfiction

The Frog Tour Package

  • $95
  • One week Blog Tour (Monday-Friday) with 5-10 Tour Stops
  • Promo Post on Enchanted Book Promotions and custom Tour Banner
  • Daily Promotion on Twitter and Tour Promotion on Facebook
  • Starter Day Party at I Heart Reading
The Crown Tour Package
  • $145
  • One week Blog Tour (Monday-Friday) with 10-15 Tour Stops
  • Promo Post on Enchanted Book Promotions and custom Tour Banner
  • Daily Promotion on Twitter and Tour Promotion on Facebook
  • Starter Day Party at I Heart Reading
The Castle Tour Package
  • $195
  • One week or One Month Blog Tour* (Monday-Friday) with 15-20 Tour Stops
  • Promo Post on Enchanted Book Promotions and custom Tour Banner
  • Daily Promotion on Twitter and Tour Promotion on Facebook
  • Starter Day Party at I Heart Reading
  • One month advertising on I Heart Reading
The Princess Book Tour
  • $245
  • One week or One Month Blog Tour* (Monday-Friday) with 20-25 Tour Stops
  • Promo Post on Enchanted Book Promotions and custom Tour Banner
  • Daily Promotion on Twitter and Tour Promotion on Facebook
  • Starter Day Party at I Heart Reading
  • One month advertising on I Heart Reading
The Queen Book Tour
  • $345
  • One week, One Month or Two Month Blog Tour* (Monday-Friday) with 25+ Tour Stops
  • Promo Post on Enchanted Book Promotions and custom Tour Banner
  • Daily Promotion on Twitter and Tour Promotion on Facebook
  • Starter Day Party at I Heart Reading
  • One month advertising on I Heart Reading
______________________________


In addition to blog tours, R&R offers cover reveals and review query services. R&R Book Tours accepts most YA and Adult genres.

Book Tour Packages
Mini Book Tours $60 US
  • 5 – 7 Stops (reviews or promo posts)
  • 5 day tour (Monday to Friday)
  • All the perks and benefits of a full-size tour at a fraction of the cost.
Package “A” $130 US
  • 15 stops (reviews or promo posts)
  • 5 day tour (Monday to Friday)
  • Custom tour banner featured on our sidebar
  • Book tour kick-off post featured here and on Reads & Reels
  • Tour stops will be promoted on social media by R&R and tour hosts
  • Custom banner
  • Media kits and HTML ready documents will be provided to bloggers and instagrammers (items for kits will be provided to us by author)
  • Tour-wide Rafflecopter provided to all tour hosts, providing maximum exposure and entries. Adding book on Goodreads, following your twitter, following you on Goodreads, liking your Facebook page, etc…
  • Tour must be booked at least 8 weeks in advance.
  • Review copies must be available to hosts 4 weeks in advance (Some exceptions)
Package “B” $160 US
  • 20 stops (reviews or promo posts)
  • 5 day tour (Monday to Friday)
  • Book tour banner featured on our sidebar
  • Book tour kick-off post featured here and on Reads & Reels
  • Tour stops will be promoted on social media by R&R and tour hosts
  • Custom banner
  • Media Kits and HTML ready documents will be provided to bloggers and instagrammers (items for kits will be provided to us by author)
  • Tour-wide Rafflecopter provided to all tour hosts, providing maximum exposure and entries. Adding book on Goodreads, following your twitter, following you on Goodreads, liking your Facebook page, etc…
  • Tour must be booked at least 8 weeks in advanced.
  • Review copies must be available to hosts at least 4 weeks in advance.
Package “C” $190 US
  • 25+ stops (reviews or promo posts)
  • 5 day tour (Monday to Friday)
  • Book tour banner featured on our sidebar
  • Book tour kick-off post featured here and on Reads & Reels
  • Tour stops will be promoted on social media by R&R and tour hosts
  • Custom banner
  • Media Kits and HTML ready documents will be provided to bloggers and instagrammers (items for kits will be provided to us by author)
  • Tour-wide Rafflecopter provided to all tour hosts, providing maximum exposure and entries. Adding book on Goodreads, following your twitter, following you on Goodreads, liking your Facebook page, etc…
  • Tour must be booked at least 8 weeks in advanced.
  • Review copies must be available to hosts at least 4 weeks in advance.
  • If you desire a custom tour, please contact owner to discuss

Cover Reveals$65 US ($40 if included with package)
  • 15 – 20 Hosts (Bloggers/ bookstagrammers/ or mix of both)
  • Author selects date for cover reveal (one day).
  • Cover reveal must not be available online elsewhere (There are exceptions)
  • Cover reveal post featured here and on Reads & Reels
  • Cover reveal will be promoted on social media (Twitter, Tumblr, Bloglovin, Facebook and Instagram)
  • Media kits will be created for bloggers and bookstagrammers (items provided by author)
  • HTML ready documents will be created for bloggers, graphics will be available for bookstagrammers
  • Cover reveal posts include; cover, summary, Goodreads link, purchase links, author bio and picture, author links, or anything else author wants to include
  • Can be done on short notice!
Book Trailer Reveals$65 US
  • 15 – 20 hosts (bloggers/ bookstagrammers or mix of both)
  • Sign up post on here & Reads & Reels
  • Email with sign up form will also be sent to bloggers
  • Trailer reveal featured on Reads & Reels
  • Custom banner
  • an HTML ready post is also created for bloggers
  • Trailer reveal will be promoted on social media (Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, and Bloglovin)
  • Trailer reveal includes trailer, book cover, blurb, Goodreads link, purchase links, author bio, author pic, and links
  • Optional Giveaway to provide maximum exposure. Rafflecopter created by me with options benefiting you (adding book on Goodreads, following your twitter, following you on Goodreads, liking your Facebook page, etc.)
  • Service requires 4 weeks notice but can be done in as little as 2-3 weeks (circumstances will vary)
Book Blitzes $85 US
  • One day or 5 day window (Monday to Friday)
  • No limit on participants
  • Maximum social media exposure through participating blogs, Instagram accounts and Reads & Reels
  • Media kits will be created and provided to bloggers (items for kit are provided to us by author)
  • HTML “ready to post” documents will be provided to bloggers
  • Can be done on short notice!
  • No giveaway required but it does increase exposure and is highly recommended
Review Query Service$45 US
  • We query bloggers, reviewers etc… so you don’t have to.
  • Price is good for one book. Additional books are $15 ea.
  • This is not the same as a tour, bloggers or bookstagrammers will read/review on their own time though you may specify a time frame
  • Reviews will be honest and positive reviews are not guaranteed.
  • Reviewers will be asked to also post review to Goodreads/ Amazon in addition to their blog/ Instagram page
  • Number of reviewers requesting books is not guaranteed. By signing up for this service, you agree that the number of reviewers requesting a copy and writing a review is not guaranteed.
  • Can be booked with Book Blitz for $115 package.

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