Are Virtual Book Tours Critical to Your Book Sales?

In truth, I’m on the fence on this. I have been doing a little research on the subject as many authors do blog tours and guest posts for much-needed publicity. I’ve done a bit myself but I’m not sure yet how sizable the benefit is. That is not to say any and all publicity is not a good thing. It is. Yet, what if you were paying for your blog tour? Some are quite expensive. How much would you consider worth it?

Many authors are able to set up their own virtual tour/blog hop/book tour without using a service. In many of these cases, they already have a virtual network – one they carefully cultivated before they published their books. However, one thing I have seen with this approach is that often the network is filled with other authors who are also promoting their books. I wholeheartedly endorse this practice but I wonder how many readers are being reached using this method. I’m not saying I don’t believe authors don’t buy other authors’ work. Some do and I certainly have. In fact, I currently have several on my kindle waiting for me. (I love having guest posts by other writers because I learn so much!) But even if your fellow writers buy your book, are you reaching your wider target audience – whether it’s readers of paranormal, historical fiction, or thriller? The point is, if you set up your own blog tour, be sure to appear on blogs where you can safely assume the visitors don’t just write, but READ your genre.

dreamstimefree_31804Obviously, another option is to pay for your tour. While doing some research recently, I’ve noticed that blog tours are not just for the independently published. In fact, some services will only arrange tours for authors who have been traditionally published. This tells me how popular the idea has become. A summary of services:

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  • Novel Publicity:  The website states the cost is $1000 and is a full-consultation service. An excerpt from their site says, “The virtual book tour includes twenty blogs over a four-week period. If 20 high traffic bloggers are unavailable for your tour, we may assign some bloggers that have been evaluated by us but have not yet reached the 100 hits per day milestone. If we do need to use low-traffic bloggers, we will provide you with more than 20 total bloggers to ensure the maximum PR bang for your buck.” What is interesting here is that they guarantee the sites you visit will have 100 hits per day or some combination of sites to reach that. An interesting point…
  • Sizzling PR Romance:  This company provides a variety of services and prices can start as low as $5. Although the name indicates romance, it’s not just the Harlequin variety but also paranormal romance, urban fantasy, erotica and more. The website says, “The author has the option of guest blogs, interviews, character interviews, excerpt posts or combination for each tour. Giveaways are also accepted and handled with the author’s permission. Review copies will be sent out (if the author wishes) to every tour stop at no additional charge. If the author is only interested in having the book sent out for reviews, the price is $5. Sizzling PR is open to any thing the author might have in mind.”
  • Reading Addiction Virtual Book Tours: Prices range from approximately $25 to $200. This company has a variety of packages and will provide a la carte services. They represent most genres and guarantee book reviews within their tours.
  • Bewitching Book Tours: Prices range from $35-$155 for a variety of services and time frames (1 week to 1 month). The company specializes in paranormal romance, urban fantasy, and paranormal erotica book tours but will represent almost all other fiction genres as well.
  • Tribute-Books: This company’s services range from mini-tours to more involved tours or reviews only. Prices start as low as $75 and go up to $325 for larger packages. They prefer young adult, mystery and romance. Any other fiction genre can email them directly for availability. Tribute-Books does not represent non-fiction.
  • Virtual Book Tour Cafe: To learn prices and specific packages, you must visit the site and complete the submission form. Virtual Book Tour Cafe represents most genres but reserves the right to not represent your book if they don’t feel it is a good fit.

Are there others? Yes, of course, but this is an idea of what is out there. Some companies, such as TLC Book Tours, will only represent traditionally published authors (as mentioned earlier). If you choose to hire a service, be sure to read the testimonials provided by the sites and look over their list of authors. Are they experienced in your genre? Take a look at the book’s Amazon site. How long has it been since their tour? If it was recent, does the book have many reviews and what is the book rank? Of course, as you may not know where the book started, the information is only partially relevant. But, if that book is doing better than yours, maybe it’s a good investment. Either way, do your research. This will help you to determine if it’s important to add this to your marketing strategy.

Although the idea of spending money is not anyone’s favorite idea, traditionally published authors usually have some level of publicity assigned to their books (even if sometimes nominal and short-term). My theory here is that if you’ve treated your book in a professional manner thus far – editing and cover design – why stop now? Maybe a book tour isn’t the right vehicle for you but many of these companies offer a variety of services. Some will help you develop your FB page and presence, website, or help you get reviews. It’s really another form of advertising. If you can do it yourself successfully, then that is great news!

In the end, although I’m not sure if a virtual book tour is critical to any book’s success, I don’t see how it can hurt. If you break even or come close to it, then it’s a positive marketing move. Even if you lose money in the short run, you may see a few pros such as reviews or a better facebook page that will pay off later. I’m a writer. And while I can certainly learn some aspects of marketing, I’m not a professional. Virtual book tours are another tool at an author’s disposal. To use or not is up to you.

If you have a story regarding virtual book tours, positive – negative – or anywhere in between, I’d love to hear it.

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