Marketing in the Age of Virtual Book Tours, with Author Tyora Moody

“Virtual book tours should be the kick-off to online book marketing that continues until the next book release.” Tyora Moody.

First, let me congratulate on the publication of your new fiction book “When Rain Falls.” What’s the book about, in a nutshell?

Thank you, Yamina! When Rain Falls is a romantic suspense novel under the Christian Fiction genre. For readers who enjoy a good who-dunnit with a mix of faith and romance, they should enjoy this.

How long has it taken you to write, edit and publish the book?

I started When Rain Falls in 2006 and completed it around 2008.  In 2010, I decided to attend the Faith and Fiction Retreat. It was the first time they offered pitch sessions to writers. On the day of the pitch, I sat in front of four editors with my heart on my sleeve and talked about the story that had been apart of my life since 2006. It took a few months to hear back from anyone. There were two rejections, but December 2010 was an answer to a prayer. I’m deeply grateful to have finally seen When Rain Falls released on March 1, 2012. Yeah!

It’s interesting, because right now you’re doing a virtual tour promoting the book. But usually, you’re on the “other side” of that field. You usually put together the tours for other writers.  Tell us how virtual blog tours work via your company, Tywebbin Creations? 

Virtual blog tours work differently depending on which company is coordinating the tour. I refer to the ones I coordinate as Virtual Book Tours because I do more than the blog tour part. Tywebbin Virtual Events covers three main areas: 1) Blog tours, 2) Online radio and podcasts and 3) social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

The goal with the tours is to create an interactive online experience and buzz for an author through these three social media platforms. I focus on the written word, audio and visuals with each tour. I used to do the tours for a week, but decided to do longer tours that can last four-six weeks..

I assume virtual tours are going to make “live” book tours obsolete one day, especially with the decline of major book stores around the country. Do you agree with this view?  If not, why?

No, not necessarily. It depends on the author. If an author has a larger fan-base, it may be expected to do in-person events around the country. Some authors are with traditional publishers who set-up these type of events.

Other authors whose publishers don’t provide funds or who are self-published, may find virtual book tours provide the opportunity to reach readers without having to have a large budget.  Authors become best-sellers due to good old-fashion word of mouth advertising. Social media platforms are about community and sharing so you can see the potential for authors.

I think authors should still plan to have readings, visit book clubs and plan to attend carefully selected events like book festivals. For example, I’m looking forward to attending the SC Book Festival to meet readers and introduce new readers to When Rain Falls. I decided to focus on the virtual book marketing first and then branch out into in-person events. It made sense to me to get some buzz about the book online and then branch out offline. Virtual book tours should be the kick-off to online book marketing that continues until the next book release.

I encourage authors to continue to blog, guest blog and be active on social media after the virtual book tours. After the When Rain Falls Virtual Book Tour, you will continue to see me online promoting with smaller virtual events like Facebook and Twitter chats.

 Okay, so you’re on day 21 of the tour, and I believe the tour will last a month. How many blogs are on your schedule?

I have 22 bloggers and 7 radio hosts on this tour. The nice part of planning a longer tour is I can spread the blog stops out over a month.

Is that a typical number for blogs for an author to visit, or is your number high because you run the tour?

My number was high probably because I’ve worked with some of these bloggers for three years and I’m sure there was a curiosity of the book promoter now being an author. LOL!  So, the number of bloggers depend on the author. For example, I’m doing a blog tour for Stacy Hawkins Adams in April and she has always come in with a larger number of bloggers. She’s released her seventh novel this month..

Also, I let authors know your tour often depends on how many review copies you plan to provide. You can’t expect a blogger to endorse you on their blog without giving them an opportunity to review your book. I decided early in my marketing plan to prepare galleys because while some reviewers have Nooks and Kindles, most still like a book in their hand. A few will accept ebooks.

How far in advance did you have to get book bloggers to agree to host your book? I want authors to get an idea of the time-frame they should prepare for.

For some of the bloggers on my tour they received galleys last fall. These were the bloggers I have worked with for a number of years. I started the sign-up for my tour in early January, so the remainder of the bloggers had galleys mid-to-late January.

I had someone ask me how did I get so many reviews within the first few days of my book release. It starts with sending out review copies of your book far enough in advance before the release date to allow time for readers to review it. If you are looking for reviews on your tour, then you need to keep that in mind when planning a tour.

I also recommend working on blog tours 2-3 months in advance. This not only allows time to send out review copies, but to prepare the content for the tour. In order to keep the tour interesting, authors will be asked to write guest blog posts or answer interview questions like the one I’m doing for you today.

You know, I’ve heard stories that blog tours are exhausting; that authors must be willing to grind it out day by day. Is this true, or can an author put together a standard response for blog hosts, and just send it out on the day the blog runs their piece?

It’s a grind to prepare for a blog tour. I like blog tours that provide unique content per post. That means there should be a mix of content like interviews, guest blog posts, articles, podcasts and reviews. An author could put together a standard response for blog hosts, but that can be boring, especially for those readers who want to follow the tour each day or week. I also recommend adding a giveaway element to the tour to generate buzz and comments. Blog tours need a bit of creativity to draw the attention you desire.

I have an opinion. I think indie authors are cheap when it comes to promoting their books, and that they need to foot the bill if they want to see their books sell. Not just upload it to Smashwords and Amazon and hope for the best. Simply put, why aren’t more authors doing tours?

Book marketing is expensive. I think the missing element for indie authors is they don’t research their options and plan accordingly. They focus on writing the book, they may edit the book (I hope), find someone to do the book cover and then upload. That’s just a ⅓ of the process. The main part is letting readers know your book is available.

A publicist friend told me a long time ago, you need to be thinking about marketing as you are writing the book. As you develop your marketing plan, you can explore the options available, like blog tours, and the finances involved. Save the money to hire a coordinator or learn the ropes on how to set-up a tour..

As an entrepreneur I have to say being an author is and has become another business to manage. Successful businesses have a successful business plan to help push products.

Ok. Final question. Since your tour began on March 5th, have you noticed an up tick in sales? What’s the trend been like?

I mainly watch Amazon.com. I can tell there is more of a noticeable difference in the sales numbers on the day When Rain Falls has been actively talked about via social media.  But I want to emphasize a virtual book tour is about exposure. It’s about letting someone out there know about your book who may not even be aware that it exists. The goal is after a reader sees your book a number of times it will draw their curiosity to add to their shopping cart or download on their ebook.

Thanks so much for joining me, Ty. Best of luck with your book.

 

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2 comments

Tyora Moody says: March 26, 2012 at 5:01 pm

Yamina,

Thank you for the interview and for being a host on the When Rain Falls Virtual Book Tour. I love your blog! I can see how it has become a valuable, growing resource in the literary community. Keep up the great work!
Blessings!

Tyora Moody

    yammsy says: March 27, 2012 at 12:41 am

    Thanks, Tyora! I can’t wait to see how the book comes along during these next few weeks and months.

    Best,
    Yamina