Monday, September 29, 2014

Monday Marketing: Should you pay for Virtual Blog Tour?

Today we have published author Mia Epsilon talking about her experience with virtual blog tours.

Should You Pay for a Virtual Book Tour?
I need to say up front I don't have a clear answer to this. I can offer what happened with *my* book. Just in case someone doesn't know what a 'virtual book tour' is (and I didn't before my editor told me), your book or you, the author, are featured on different pages for specific days. Reviewers can also request an advanced copy of your book to read and review. This description is taken directly from the Fire and Ice Book Tours Page:
A virtual book tour is the Internet version of an in-person book tour. It includes weekday stops at a variety of blogs, all of which will feature your book information (and giveaway if you do one). Many bloggers will request written interviews or guest posts from the authors as well, to be featured along with their book information. This exposes your book or e-book to many readers that might not have heard of your writing before. It also introduces you to new readers as an author. We do a lot of social media promotions during the book tour, and we also do a lot of marketing through various outlets… Giving your book tour a lot of internet and media promotions. Many bloggers will share your book spotlight on their blog  on their own personal Twitters, Facebooks, etc, as well. So a virtual book tour is an excellent way for Indie Authors, Self-Published Authors, and even traditionally published authors to advertise their books and gain new readers.

Virtual Book Tours are, as you see noted above, tooted often as 'the best way to market your book'. But is it? I also want to mention, I'm blessed in that my Publisher (Breathless Press) sets up blog tours for ALL its authors free of charge and also sends out books as requested by a massively long Reviewer's site. The BP Authors also forward links to each other's books on their personal or author blog pages, Face Book pages, and Twitter accounts. So there's loads of publicity right within my family circle, without paying a dime (though I do also forward fellow author's links and books, as well; this takes seconds of my day and costs nothing).

When my first book, Wedding Belle Blues, was accepted for publication I had no idea about the marketing end. I'm a writer, not a business woman. So when my editor suggested a paid virtual book tour, I jumped on her more knowledgeable experience. She had released her first novel a little less than a year ahead of mine did a book tour with Fire and Ice Book Tours.  She gained hundreds of followers of her Face book and twitter pages, and her book has consistently been number one on the publisher's website in the historical genre. So I went to the above site and signed up. Easy as entering your payment information and hitting 'pay'. The folks there were great about keeping in contact via email, and answering questions. They forwarded book review requests, specific requests for blog posts, etc.
What were my results? My book was never on the publisher's site 'Top Ten' in any category. I didn't gain hundreds of followers (I estimate 80-90) on Face Book or Twitter (I gained 90 from Twitter, mainly because, I feel, I ran a free book contest). I had eighteen requests for reviews and 6 actual reviews. Yes, you read that right: Eighteen books were sent to reviews and 6 actually wrote a review for me. That's less than half.
I had a story in a special release edition through my publisher to celebrate their fifth anniversary. It's called 'Leave Your Hat On' and is part of 'The Wonderland Tales'. I didn't 'tour' this short story (it's less than 5K and part of a book with 12 other authors). It sat number 4 on the publisher's 'Flirt Best Seller list' since it released in August (although it's now currently #5, I just checked). I gained 14 new Face Book followers from an online FB 'release party' I participated in with the other authors.  It has 6 reviews all on its own, without review requests.
So which did 'better'? There's any numbers of reasons and explanations and by no means is this scientific. Publishing is a fickle business: after all, books I never thought should be available sit at number 1 on best seller lists and sell millions while book I think amazing never make it past the top 100. Wedding Belle Blues is a 'sweet' contemporary, filled with sexual tension but no actual sex scenes; 'Leave Your Hat On' is romantic erotica.  My editor's book was historical and released in fall; Wedding Belle Blues released in summer.  And those are just a few differences.
Will I 'tour' again? For my next book, 'Take a Chance on Me' I didn't choose or pay for a virtual book tour as an experiment to see how it fairs on its own against how Wedding Belle Blues did on tour.  I'll let you know in a few weeks the results.

So, should you choose a Virtual Book Tour? I'd love to have your questions, responses and experiences shared below.

Mia Epsilon lives with her enduring soul mate hubby in the gorgeous Blue Ridge Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, USA. She's an avid reader of almost anything but particularly romance, with too many favorite authors to name. Mia is a never-miss-an-episode viewer of Doctor Who and Sherlock, eagerly awaits each new season, and tends to binge watch both on Netflix with a couple of pots of tea and a plate of blueberry scones. She also happily suffers a coffee and chocolate addiction which causes her to visit her favorite chocolate store, The Chocolate Fetish an abnormally high number of times.
She can most often be found at her computer, spinning new tales, or in a quiet padded nook with her e reader happily engrossed in a new story. Look for more books and favorite characters in the 'Weddings by C & C' line including: 'Wedding Belle Blues', 'Take a Chance on Me', 'When You Believe', and 'That Night'.

Breathless Press home page: 

1 comment:

  1. A lot of it has to do with timing.
    I set up the tours for all three of my books (with my publisher sending out a lot of review copies) and have never paid to be featured on any site. All three hit the Amazon best seller lists. (Although one did it ten months after release.) Between me and my publisher, we have a long enough list of site that I doubt I'll ever pay for a tour.
    Let us know how your second book does!


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