Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Virtual book tours: 3 decisions

By T.W. Fendley

I'm thrilled to announce the first Virtual Book Tour Party for my debut historical fantasy novel, ZERO TIME! 
You can learn what's happening on the Party Page. I hope you'll take time during the coming weeks to visit the more than 20 Party Hosts and learn more about my book. The first post--hosted by science fiction writer Sandra Ulbrich Almazan--talks about the science underlying the fantasy of ZERO TIME. Tomorrow's post--hosted by historical fantasy author Sandra Saidak--will talk about some of the history.
Join the party!

Since writers are our focus on Wednesdays on The Writers' Lens, I wanted to share three decisions I made while preparing this book tour. But let's start at the beginning--a virtual book tour happens when several other blog sites offer information about you and your book within a specific timeframe.

1) Hire it done or DIY?
The temptation to have someone else do all the planning for my book tour was almost irresistible. I became a writer because I want to write, but marketing has certainly become a big part of what I do. Some of the promotion sites I found seem to really help authors, partly because they deal with high-volume bloggers who expose the books to thousands of potential readers. And who wouldn't want to have an overnight bestseller? Of course, the downside is they often charge hundreds and even thousands of dollars. Here are a couple of the most interesting ones I've found:
Ultimately, it was a comment from Young Adult author Susan Kaye Quinn that made me decide to make my first virtual book tour a do-it-yourself event. When someone arranges your book tour, she said, you lose the connection to the book bloggers. Around this same time, science fiction romance writer Pauline Baird Jones introduced me to Kristen Lamb's blog. Kristen's the author of the best-selling book, WE ARE NOT ALONE (WANA)--THE WRITER'S GUIDE TO SOCIAL MEDIA. It's all about writers "committed to doing small things with great love to achieve the impossible." That resonates.
2) But where to start?
So my heart was willing, but I didn't have clue where to start. Again, Susan was my inspiration. She managed to get her book OPEN MINDS into Amazon's Top 100 for Science Fiction. Book tours were among the five ways to market indie books she talked about in her Jan.30 post.

While it was too late to do a book launch, it's never too late to party, right? So I asked my friends to help, and they said sure. How great is that! And I also made new friends through Broad Universe, where several of us were on Facebook looking for places to blog. You'll be meeting some of them here soon.

If you have a party, you have to have prizes. Figuring out how to capture contest entries tested my technical abilities beyond their limit, even with Susan's wonderful example. Fortunately, my daughter Lisa tested out the Facebook tag, which totally baffles me, and she assures me everyone else will "get it." It's been quite a learning process.

BTW, if my Party Page resembles Susan's, that's because I borrowed as much as I could! I also borrowed some ideas from Karina Fabian, who writes The 30-minute Marketer blog. Her Virtual Book Tour Primer is simply amazing!

3) Another tour?
Alas, marketing a book is not a one-shot deal. While seeking reviews and exposure via social media is a continous process, I'm already thinking about my next virtual book tour. Before my friends start hiding, I do realize that going back and asking for help again and again becomes a lot like someone with a relationship problem who keeps talking about it year after year. At some point, it's time to move on.

Of course, synchronicity is at work in all things. As I wrestled with finding hosts for this tour, Pauline send out a message to those published by L&L Dreamspell about the Book Bloggers & Publishers Online Conference. A light bulb surely materialized above my head; I signed up. In the chat room last week, I asked the bloggers how to find sites that would be interested in what I write. Here's what they shared:
Goodreads' Making Connections Group

And Susan told me about Alexa, which gives you web traffic information so you can select the top sites in your genre.

So now I have a better idea of how to do a book tour, and I hope you do, too. I still can't say enough good things about the Party Hosts who have made this tour possible for me. THANK YOU!

The ZERO TIME 2012 Virtual Book Tour Party is here!

To celebrate, I'm giving away a Maya-Aztec astrology report, a Mayan Winds CD, ZERO TIME tote bag and fun buttons. Check out the prizes and other posts on the Party Page.

3 Ways to Win Prizes (multiple entries are great!)

1) Leave a comment here or on any of the other PARTY POSTS listed on the Party Page.

2) Tweet about the Virtual Party or any of the PARTY POSTS (with tag #ZEROTIME2012)
Example: Join the Virtual Party for historical #fantasy novel ZERO TIME by @twfendley for a chance to win prizes! #ZEROTIME2012

3) Facebook (tag @T.W. Fendley) about the Virtual Party. (NOTE: tag must have periods to work)
Example: Join the Virtual Party for historical fantasy novel ZERO TIME by @T.W. Fendley for a chance to win prizes!

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