Monday, January 12, 2015

What's a virtual book tour?

[I'm dual-listing this post with my other blog Payperazzi.  I wanted to post it here as a followup to a note about the blog tour that I added to my last Creating Van Gogh post.  But as it deals with the
   writing life generally I thought it was appropriate for Payperazzi too.]

When the publicist I hired in the fall suggested an organized online book tour, I must admit I hesitated.  Although I should have been, I wasn't aware of this phenomenon at the time.  Of course I knew about book blogs--in fact I'd contacted dozens of them last summer trying to line up reviews and mentions--but a coordinated tour through several of them was a new form of  marketing for me.  The publicist suggested a particular tour company she knew and respected: TLC Book Tours.  Looking over their web site I saw that I could choose between a 10-blog tour and 20-blog tour; I also could, if I wanted, among other services, pay for advertisements in a newsletter the company puts out to its book club.  All the different services offer by TLC seemed attractive and potentially valuable, but a 10-blog tour was what our budget allowed, so I went with that.

It took several weeks for the tour to get fully arranged--no way could I have coordinated this all on my own--and I must admit that there days when I wondered if TLC had forgotten about me.  Ideally the tour happens very close to the official release date of your book, but since I was late to commit, the tour  couldn't happen until my book Island Fog had been out for a couple months.  I had my choice of December or January, and Trish Collins at TLC strongly recommended January, explaining that everyone is too distracted in December to pay much attention to bloggers.  I took her word for it.

So--ta dah--January successfully (and coldly) arrived, and with it came the beginning of my blog tour.  So far so good!  I must admit that it's childishly thrilling to wake up and know that a given book blog is going to exclusively profile your that day.  Thrilling, but anxious too, because you have no way of knowing what they will say.  There's no contractual agreement that the blogs have to provide positive reviews.  No, you just send each blog a copy of your book, stand back, and then simply wait for the results.  I guess it's kind of like an actor in Broadway show who, the morning after the opening, rushes to look at his copy of the Times to see what the reviewer had to say, knowing how his day--to say nothing of the fate of the show--will hang on what's printed there.  That same breathless thrill--and that same anxiety.  Except that, weekends excluded, I get to experience it for ten days! (Actually eleven, as it turns out.)  It's been great, though.  Really fun.  It helps that every review so far has been positive, and a couple have been overwhelmingly so.  Ann Walters at Books on the Table so liked the book after she read it that she shot me a series of questions to answer so that she could expand her review with an author interview.  Very gladly!  Thank you!

To make the week even sweeter, a long-since-completed interview I conducted with my colleague Garry Craig Powell finally found its way into Fiction Writers Review on Thursday.   How's that for timing?  For the very attractive look of the interview I have to thank the kind attention, and conscientious editing, of FWR publisher Jeremy Chamberlin.  Click here to read it.

As I've mentioned to a few people already, and said in the Books on the Table interview, I feel like publishing this book has taught me what to do the next time I publish a book.  (Keeping my fingers crossed on that score.)  That has been the real benefit of all these various marketing activities.  And certainly one lesson is that a book blog tour is clearly worth it.  In sales?  I don't know yet.  Maybe yes; maybe no.  In exposure?  Yes, certainly.  In thrills?  Absolutely.  In fact, I would heartily recommend TLC to anyone who asked.  That said, if anyone reading this has had a particular bad or useless experience with a book blog tour I'd be happy to hear about it.  Below find links to the reviews that have been posted on the first five blogs on my tour.  And then below that, links to the upcoming six.  (TLC kindly arranged a lagniappe for me.)  Cheers, everyone.

Last week's stops on the Island Fog book blog tour:

Monday, January 5th: The Year in Books
Tuesday, January 6th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Wednesday, January 7th: Books on the Table
Thursday, January 8th: Savvy Verse & Wit
Friday, January 9th: The Book Binder’s Daughter

This week's stops:  

Monday, January 12th: The Discerning Reader
Tuesday, January 13th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Wednesday, January 14th: Lit and Life
Friday, January 16th: Peeking Between the Pages

The last two stops:

Tuesday, January 20th: Bibliotica
Thursday, January 22nd: A Book Geek


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