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Virtual Book Tours: A Five-Step Planning Process
by Mohamed Mughal

Return to Blogging & Social Media · Print/Mobile-Friendly Version

I participated in an international virtual book tour the third week of March 2010. The tour focused on my debut novel and on my overall approach to writing. I had stops in Berlin, Germany; London, England; and Washington, D.C. This being my first virtual book tour, I didn't quite know how to plan the event. I took a deep breath, I planned what I thought made sense and then I took a head-first dive into the deep end.

Guess what? It was great!

Not only did I have the privilege of direct interactions with readers world-wide, but the depth, complexity, relevance and humor of the questions contributed to a number of compelling personal and literary revelations.

Want to try it yourself? It's not difficult. You can start by taking a look at the simple, five-step process that I used.

Steps 1 through 4 happen before the tour. These steps don't necessarily follow a strict sequence of one-after-another. Expect some overlap in the execution of them. Step 5 happens after the tour.

Step 1

Do web searches for literature blogs, particularly those who focus on your genre. Contact as many as possible and briefly explain who you are, what you wrote and why they should be open to hosting you for a virtual book tour.

Being a Maryland-based writer, I'm a member of our state's writers' association. I went to that organization's website and contacted fellow members who maintain literary blogs. One of my blog hosts came from these contacts. I found another of my hosts through a web search on the terms "literary blogs" and "book blogs." Not only did she host the tour, she also read the book and posted a review prior to the tour. I found my third host by searching for writers with similar demographics as mine. Be persistent. I contacted three dozen blogs before finding three willing to host my virtual book tour.

Be creative. Look around and see what's current and what fits your needs. Sitting here drafting this article, I did a quick search on "book blogs." The second item that came up lists 101 book blogs with clickable links grouped into categories like Librarian Blogs, Fiction, Younger Readers, Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Adventure.

Step 2

Once you've gotten commitments from the number and the type of blogs that you want on your tour (I wanted three literary blogs), confirm tour dates with each host.

Here's sample text for an e-mail message that you can use to confirm your tour dates. You're welcome to cut and paste the language. Just make sure you change the names (smile):

To: Your Hosts
Subject: Proposed Dates, Mohamed's Virtual Book Tour

Dear Inna, Imran and Austin,

Thanks again to each of you for agreeing to host my virtual book tour in March. Let's do the tour the week of 21 March 2010. Proposed dates for each blog stop are:

21-23 March 2010, "Onions and Tea" by Inna Selipanov, Germany

22-24 March 2010, "Not-quite-a-blog" by Imran Ahmad, United Kingdom

23-25 March 2010, "Another Writer's Life" by Austin Camacho, United States

Are these dates good for you guys?

By 10 March 2010, I'll e-mail each of you an announcement for the tour. The text will include a short blurb about my book and a link to my author interview. You're welcome to amend the announcement to fit your own voice and style before you post it.

I'll answer up to three questions from visitors at each of your blogs during the dates noted above. I'll try to answer questions within a day or less. The first person to post a question at each blog receives a free signed copy of "Resolution 786."

I plan to send out four press releases to publicize the tour. Each release will have your blog URL and the dates of your participation. My aim is to generate good traffic to the virtual book tour AND to your blogs in general.

I think this will be fun!

Thanks,
Mohamed

In addition to setting dates for the tour, this message tells hosts to expect a prewritten tour announcement by a specific date; it reinforces the mechanics of the tour; and it informs the hosts of upcoming press releases.

Step 3

Pre-plan the mechanics of the tour and share this plan with each of your hosts. Have your hosts share this information with their blog's readers prior to the tour.

For my event, readers from each blog could ask up to three questions about my writing and/or book. I developed and posted my answers in about a day. To increase participation and interest, I gave a free signed copy of the novel to the first person to post a question at each blog. I made sure that I included information on the giveaway in all my press releases and in all announcements that I posted to my web-site and to other social media sites.

I also wanted to make sure that the information that my hosts distributed to their readership was consistent and cross-linked. Here's an example of the text that I asked my hosts to post to their readers a few days before their portion of the tour began:

Dear fans and readers,

Want a free book signed by the author?

I'm excited to host an international virtual book tour for Resolution 786. American author Mohamed Mughal will be joining our blog from 21-23 March 2010 to answer questions about his novel and about his approach to writing. Mohamed will answer up to three questions from blog visitors during the dates noted above. The first visitor to ask a question receives a free signed copy of "Resolution 786!"

You can read more about the novel and the author in the interview posted at http://tinyurl.com/369sjdk

Remember, this is an international book tour so if you miss Mohamed on my blog, you can still catch him in the U.K. or the U.S. at: 22-24 March 2010, "Not-quite-a-blog" by Imran Ahmad, United Kingdom, http://unimagined.typepad.com/unimagined/

23-25 March 2010, "Another Writer's Life" by Austin Camacho, United States, http://ascamacho.blogspot.com

Providing this information and text to your hosts makes it easier on them. All they need to do is cut and paste the content into a post on their blogs. Doing this also allows you to maintain control over the mechanics of the tour while shaping its overall message. Insert links to useful background information such as book reviews and author interviews. Create an integrated set of tour segments from one blog to another by having each host post clickable links from their blog to each of the other participating blogs.

Step 4

Issue a series of press releases to publicize the tour.

You can issue these releases through a press release service, your website, local newspapers and through any other social media that you participate in such as Facebook and Twitter. The idea is to drive as much traffic as possible to the host blogs and to make for a better attended virtual event.

I planned a series of four press releases. I issued the first a month before the tour, the second about three weeks before, the third about a week before and the last one on the day before the tour. Here's sample text from one of the press releases:

Virtual Book Tour Puts God on Trial

American literary cubist Mohamed Mughal will participate in an international virtual book tour for his novel, "Resolution 786," in March 2010. The novel's plot includes a trial of God for crimes against humanity.

The tour has stops in Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States. The following blogs are hosting the tour:

21-23 March 2010, "Onions and Tea" by Inna Selipanov, Germany, http://www.onionsandtea.blogspot.com

22-24 March 2010, "Not-quite-a-blog" by Imran Ahmad, United Kingdom, http://unimagined.typepad.com/unimagined/

23-25 March 2010, "Another Writer's Life" by Austin Camacho, United States, http://ascamacho.blogspot.com

The author will answer up to three questions from visitors at each blog during the dates noted above. The first participant to ask a question at each blog receives a free signed copy of Resolution 786.

When asked about the virtual book tour, Mughal said, "The tour has three blog hosts. These three people collectively represent three countries, three religions, three races and both genders. What could be more appropriate for a novel whose central character is a Jewish Muslim? I couldn't be happier with the tour's geographic and theological inclusivity. It's a celebration of and a testament to the multi-variant beauty of the human race."

You get the idea. In snappy, easy language, tell them who, what, where, when and why. Make sure you throw in personal interest material, background information that you think and feel will resonate with the types of people who might read your books. In my case, I think my readers will likely have a multicultural perspective. I emphasize that element of the tour in the last paragraph of the press release. Since I had an international tour, I opened the release with my national affiliation. If at all possible, include clickable links in the press release. Make it as easy as possible for potential participants to get to where you want them, posting questions and comments at your host blogs during the dates of the tour. Finally, think hard about the titles of your press releases. You want titles that are accurate, relevant and as compelling as possible.

Step 5

Once the tour is done, post clickable links to each host's Q&A segments on your website and on all social media sites in which you participate.

In addition to my web-site's blog, I posted my virtual book tour's links on Facebook, hubpages and squidoo. Another idea to maintain the tour's utility and momentum is to write and publish articles that focus on various themes that emerged from the tour's discussions. I have a full set of article topics directly attributable to the tour's discussions, things like how to develop believable characters, techniques for creating good dialogue and the application of different schools of literary expression such as cubism and absurdism.

Conclusion

There's an admitted simplicity and logic to the five-step process and to the implementing details associated with each step. The art and inspiration come with the personal nuances that you imbue into the mechanical process. Make it special. Make it you.

Would I do another virtual book tour? Absolutely! Done right, the process yields increased visibility to an author while increasing traffic for the host blogs. It's an ideal venue through which to create and leave behind a long-lasting cyber-trail of information about your book, about your writing and about yourself. Most of all, a virtual book tour is a perfect vehicle through which to enjoy the benefits and revelations of a real-time, deep conversation with readers and literature enthusiasts the world over.

Copyright © 2010 Mohamed Mughal
This article may not be reprinted without the author's written permission.


Mohamed Mughal writes in the schools of literary cubism and absurdism.

 

Copyright © 2017 by Moira Allen. All rights reserved.
All materials on this site are the property of their authors and may not be reprinted
without the author's written permission, unless otherwise indicated.
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