Virtual Book Tours: Promote a Book Without Leaving Home

Virtual book tours are one of the most significant ways the digital revolution has expanded the options for book publicity. Previously, an author’s only book tour option was to go in person — which meant significant time away from home, work, and the expense of extended travel. Now, promoting books with virtual tours has changed all of that and retained many benefits of the previous in-person approach. It’s also no coincidence that the other major book trend of the digital revolution — self-published books —  are often the ones to be promoted virtually. But regardless of the publishing method, virtual book tours are a highly effective publicity tactic when planned and managed well.

As the name implies, the virtual book event allows an author to promote a book and answer questions through an online presence from home or anywhere else they may be located. Social media channels like Facebook make virtual book tours possible because they provide ways for authors to both promote and conduct the event. Any time an author reaches an audience, be it virtual or in-person, there is a significant opportunity to engage with fans and interested readers. It’s what good publicity is all about, and the value of engaging with an audience to help them discover a book should never be underestimated.

How Do Virtual Book Tours Work?

If you’re an author, you can begin by setting up an Ask Page (perhaps with support and guidance from a professional publicist) that is connected to your Facebook Book Promotion page. Optimally, the page will include a video introduction to welcome potential readers. It also helps to make a personal introduction as well as one for the book, often with excerpts or readings similar to a book promotion page. During the pre-event stage, it’s essential to solicit reader questions in hopes of zeroing in on the target audience’s interests as they relate to the book. Many times, the questions collected an become the basis for the virtual tour event.

Blogs also are an ideal way to begin building a rapport with the target audience for the virtual book tour event. Either on your own or with your publicist, you need to do some groundwork to build an audience. Often you’ll do it by making guest posts on popular blogs as well as your own blog. It builds your credibility as a subject-matter expert and draws in the target audience based on their interests. Then, you can invite them to the event over social media, for example, on Facebook or Twitter, where they can interact with you directly. When a person signs up for a virtual book event, you also collect an email address and can begin building a relationship. It benefits both the author and the reader by forming a personal connection.

Besides Facebook, Where Can I hold Virtual Tour Events?

Virtual book publicity events can be conducted via Skype as well to bring the element of real-time question and answer interaction into play. Creating podcasts that will allow you to speak on the topic of interest to the target audience and answer their questions gathered from the event can also be valuable book publicity tools.

The virtual book publicity tour continues to have value after it is over because it allows you to begin creating a database of potential buyers in your target market. Once the relationship is formed, it can be maintained with information updates about you as an author and any upcoming works. You can utilize the podcasts and interviews recorded via Skype to help secure radio interviews by demonstrating your command of a subject, abilities in an interview format, and audience interest based on questions asked on the author’s Ask page.

Virtual book tours are worthwhile for any author whose target audience is online. They allow you to connect with readers personally and share book information that helps people decide to make a purchase. The key to moving an interested party to fan and on to purchase of your work is to include links and information back to the author page where the book can be purchased — or to online and other booksellers where books are available for sale.

Are Virtual Tours All I Need to Promote My Book?

Any author researching information about book publicity will quickly find out that effective book marketing lies in a combination of tactics. Therefore, as beneficial as they are, a virtual book tour alone is not enough to successfully promote a book. They are an effective way to utilize social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and others, and you want to use them. But they need to be combined with other tactics that also reach target audiences. It is also crucial to maximize your social media before staging virtual book events. The same holds true for becoming more visible and active in blogs, podcasts, press releases, and articles.

To the extent you can do so, conventional book promotion events such as book signings and readings at local book stores as well as regional and national book events are integral to successful book publicity and marketing. Pitching to traditional media such as local and regional print, radio, and TV outlets remains the core component of well-orchestrated book publicity campaigns. Collectively, all of these components work together to help build the author’s brand, connect with target audiences, and over time, convert members of the target audience into buyers.