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Thursday, 28 July 2011

Focus On...Virtual Book Promotions



Plotting, characterisation and computing skills aren't the only things writers have to worry about these days. Today I'm welcoming Nas Dean, Romance Fan Supreme and head of Virtual Book Promotions, who's there to take some of the stress out of our 'after sales service'...

First I’d like to thank Christina, for asking me to share about Virtual Book Promotions.
Promoting an upcoming book is easy, do you say? The marketing department at your publishing house will handle it.  But you do know that the marketing department will be handling all six or sixty books releasing in that month? 
But who will give “YOU” the author, special attention you need for “YOUR” book to sell?
Okay you got the CALL! Yay! …You’re super excited! Then you receive your cover photo and release dates, now, can anything be more exciting? But does it stop there? No, your journey has just begun. Now you have to make your name stand out from the masses and sell copies of your book. You have to connect with readers everywhere around the world.
But you’re rushing along trying to meet the deadline for your subsequent books. You don’t want to be a one-book-wonder; you have to have your second and third books or for that matter your sixth and seventh books already in the pipe-line. 
How can you do promotions?
That is why I’m here! To start your promotion machinery rolling!
What can a virtual book tour do for a new or established author?
Book Tours bring you to the notice of readers. It actually helps to have your name and the title of your book talked about. You have to find the reader, rather than wait for them to find you. And when you do find them, you have to talk to your reader and keep him/her engaged. Book promotion is time consuming, expensive, and there are no guarantees that your efforts will bear fruit. But a lot of your labor can be cut in half if you focus on the reader and what S/HE needs. 
Think about yourself as a reader. You just finished a fantastic book from a new-to-you author and you decide to Google the author to learn more about her. When you reach her blog, all you find are advertisements for more books. It feels like a bit of letdown, doesn’t it? Now what if the author is out there visiting all your favorite haunts and inviting you to ask her questions? And doing giveaways of her book?
Talking to you, answering your individual comments and generally having fun, chatting with you. 
Does it work better for certain genres than others?
No, I would say it should work the same for all genres. It’s scary to put yourself out there because you don’t always know how you’ll be received, but if you’ve written the best book you can, all that’s left is to be the kind of author people want to know, Facebook friend you and chat with you through twitter. 
What are some things authors should keep in mind to have a successful tour?
Authors are rushing to meet the deadline for their second and third books; they can’t keep details about promoting their first book in mind, that’s why they come to me! (--_^) 
But seriously, they should have a media kit ready with all the pertinent information. This would include a mini bio, a full bio, decide on a author photo and include this(this is the photo out and about everywhere!) the book cover photos, links to your website, social networking sites eg. Facebook Page, Twitter. Goodreads.
And be available on the date of a Blog Stop to connect with a reader. And I’ll let you in on a secret for promoting. I advise authors to comment on many different blogs. Not a ‘hi, I like your site’ comment, but something personal and thoughtful. If you leave short and intriguing comments, people will follow you back. 
What blogs is it best to appear on?
High traffic blogs where your book would be appreciated! If it’s a romance novel, then obviously romance writer’s blogs would be good. Where romance readers mostly hangout. But I found all blogs have mostly adult visitors and people read romance so most blogs are suitable. 
And I talk to book bloggers and arrange:
• Reviews
• Interviews
• Guest posts
How long should a virtual tour take?
It depends on the author. If she can handle one week of five blog stops or five weeks of one stop a week. 
Recently when I promoted Wendy S Marcus, and her debut book, When One Night Isn't Enough, we took on more than thirty stops but Wendy was game to agree. She also had a deadline to meet for her second book, Once a Good Girl. Though, Wendy scheduled some of these blog stops herself. And each and every stop had new and fresh, interesting posts. 
Do virtual tours replace brick-and-mortar book signings? Or should authors still be prepared to do some traveling and in-person meet and greets?
Virtual Tours actually don’t replace, rather enhance your promotional efforts. The brick-and-mortar book signings are in your immediate area or in your country, but the Virtual Tour is all over the globe. Wherever books are sold and readers know how to click a few buttons to get online.

Once an author signs a contract, it seems as if there’s more to do than ever! Are there any resources available that can help? If so, what is the typical fee?
Once an author signs a contract, I start with subtle promotions of her title. After I set up Blog visits and confirm dates with blog hostesses, I send the author a list of titles she may decide to talk about on her tour. We do want to keep readers interested by following her tour.  And decide if she would be doing giveaways. Wendy did a 2in1 Book giveaway on each stop. And at the end there was an Amazon gift card to be won for one person. 
Typical fee you looking at is US$150-180 for a ten/fifteen Blog Stop. But if you decide to hire me on as a Virtual Assistant then it’s extra. 
For Blog Stops the author sends me the post and I do all the linking, add photos and send it onto Blogs. Then at every stop I link to Facebook and Twitter to promote that Blog Visit. I have another Facebook Page Romance Book Paradise which is linked to twitter so I promote through that as well. I’m generally around for any hiccups or to encourage conversation. I’m like a chaperone, if you please!
Then I create an Author Page linked to Romance Book Paradise where I have all the details, reviews and buy links for your book on one page. Now for subsequent books you don’t have to hire me, just send me a book and I update that page for you with all relevant reviews linked!
As a Virtual Assistant, I keep track of your visitors/ commenter’s and winners by excel spreadsheet. I also have librarian status at Goodreads, LibraryThing where I can load book details and covers of different editions of your book. There are some other sites which have given me authority to add to their author list and add books on their site. So I add you onto these sites.  
What’s in it for Blog Hostesses?
I make sure all my fellow hostesses receive free books! 
And if the author on the blog tour is doing giveaways, the host blog also receives lot of traffic and her blog also becomes the favorite haunt of readers.

How did you get started working with authors on online tours?
Actually I did a degree majoring in Management and Marketing and some of my author friends noticed that I was good at promoting books (I have a passion for reading!) and approached me to take on their upcoming book release promotions. 
Recently I have also been approached to allow authors to display their upcoming book cover photos on the sidebar of my Blog, linked to their websites. The author concerned already paid another site US$25. for one month, she offered  the same to me to have her cover placed on my sidebar. She’s already booked for three months for 2012! She herself said, “You do have to pay the bills!” Romance Authors and writers are fantastic and very warm and considerate!
- Apart from Virtual Blog Tour, what is the single most important thing an author can do to promote her book?
Ah, yes, the author has to make sure of reviews….on reader sites as well as bookseller sites. As recently I came across this wonderful post from  a very knowledgeable person, Michelle Fayard, when she was asked about reviews, said,
I recommend authors get at least 10 reviews, each about 75 to 300 words long. According to Berrett-Koehler Publishers, customer reviews are the single most effective tool for selling books on Amazon, as they help potential customers decide if the title is a fit for them. If you ask your contacts to post a review on Amazon, ask if they’d mind posting the same review on Barnes and Noble and Goodreads as well, for example.” 
Check this post for more information as I found it to be extremely enlightening. Apart from Virtual Book Tours I also post reviews on more than ten different sites.
And for more information regarding Virtual Tours please visit Romance Book Paradise’s this link Why Book a Virtual Blog Tour? 
Thank you for inviting me to share about Virtual Book Tours, Christina, and if anyone has a question, I’ll try my best to answer.
Thank you for posting, Nas. It’s been a very interesting and informative blog, and I wish Virtual Book Promotions every success for the future!