You've written your book, uploaded it, fine-tuned it and promoted it. Now you've got to the stage where the best way of getting sales is for people to seek out your name - be it the real Mc Coy or a nom-de-plume. Unless you're lucky enough to get featured in the mainstream media (national newspaper or television), the most cost-effective way of achieving this is to go on a virtual blog tour in much the same way as self-pubbed authors used to traipse from bookstore to bookstore with a car-full of their books to sign.
The most basic of tours starts at around $25 - a sum which it would be easy to blow on a single advert elsewhere and something which instantly makes it sound good value. This, along with the amount of effort required to build up contacts in order to arrange your own tour, makes it a no-brainer to put yourself in the hands of one of the many virtual book tour organizers who tout their services on the internet. Of course, if you know someone who's had a successful and pleasant experience with an organizer then your choice is probably already made. That said, I'd guess the reason why you're reading this is because, like me, you weren’t sure where to turn.
In fact, the choice can be quite baffling. Each operator (and there are dozens and dozens of them) will have a whole battery of options which are most likely to be a combination of the number of tour stops and the reviews which your book will (hopefully) get. There's no guarantee, of course, that these reviews will be good ones so make sure you've had friendly (but honest) people look over your book first so that you can make any editorial changes that they turn up. The last thing you need from a morale perspective is to pay for a tour organizer to then grant you a lousy review which they won’t take down for love nor money. Not only that, you’re quite likely to find the reviewer piously using your bad review to justify their 'honesty'. Such that:
"I didn't like this book ... etc etc ... I was given this book in exchange for an honest review."
Let's face it, if they keep giving people five stars, it looks fishy.
But I digress.
The first part of choosing the right tour is to understand that not all blog stops are the same. This is where virtual blog tours differ significantly from traditional author book signings with its 'another day, another butt-crushing chair in another corner of another draughty bookstore'. No, with virtual book tours, there are three main possibilities for blogstops, these being:
Interviews - where you will be asked a selection of (usually) standard questions such as your favorite authors, why you wrote your book etc.
Book reviews - where you provide a copy of the book and synopsis. The book is then either read and reviewed by the blogmaster or your synopsis just uploaded 'as is'.
Guest postings - where you will be required to write a 400 to 600 word posting (usually) on a topic relevant to both your book and the blog's target readership.
It makes sense to get a balance of these as anyone seeking to know more about you can then get a fuller picture. You also don't know exactly what's going to work so it's worth trying all the options.
In the next part we’ll look at these in more detail and then, in the final part, we’ll see how you can make sure that you get the best value for your money.
Clive West is co-owner of indie publisher Any Subject Books and you can see more about them on their website or on Facebook. He has also written a full-length novel called The Road and a collection of short stories with twists in their tails called Hobson's Choice. Both are available on Amazon with Hobson's Choice being produced in paperback format as well as Kindle.