Working With Book Tour Companies: What company to choose?
In this second post in the Virtual Book Tours series, I will talk about book tour companies. There are hundreds, if not thousands, virtual book tour companies out there. Like I explained in my previous post, these companies work as the middle man between you and the tour hosts.
They will make a banner for your upcoming book tour, promote it on their own website, get in touch with bloggers to host your tour, correspond between the bloggers and you, set up the tour schedule and then follow the tour up close so people don’t end up not posting (or that this happens as less as possible).
If you want your tour to be successful, you will need a good book tour company to tour with. Some authors prefer to schedule several tours with several companies. That’s fine – as long as you have the budget for it. However, if your budget is smaller, you may want to focus on starting out with just one tour. In that case, here is some advice to choose a company that works for you.
1) What exactly is your budget?
It’s important to determine for yourself what your budget is. You can’t expect to get the same for a $99 tour than you’ll get for a $1000 tour. Book tour companies that charge $1000 for a tour, have less clients to worry about than the ones that charge ten times as less. So chances are likely that you’ll get more personal attention if you go for one of those companies. On the other hand, the prize may not be worth it. If the service is more or less the same than what you’d get for a $99 tour, then why waste the extra money?
Now I don’t think everyone has a $1000 at their disposal for a book tour. Think hard about what kind of money you want to spend on this. Book tours are a helpful way to help promote your book, but they’re not the only way, and you can’t bet all your money on one horse. Take a look at your complete promo budget, and decide what part of it you want to spend on your book tour.
By the way, I’m not joking when I say some tours can cost up to $1000 and more. However, at the other side of the spectrum, there are book tours starting at extremely low rates, from $20 and up. I recommend you choose something in the middle. My Mom always gave me the golden advice: if there’s something cheap, something expensive and something in between, buy the last item. This counts for shoes and clothes, but it counts for book tours as well.
2) What do you want?
Some people want reviews-only book tours, and some book tour services offer reviews-only tours. You’re likely to pay more for them. Take into account though that reviews-only tours don’t always mean those reviews get posed to Amazon as well. If you’re primarily interested in reviews, contact the tour organizer or read the guidelines to see if this guarantees reviews will be posted to Amazon or Goodreads as well.
Other people prefer mixed tours, and I have to say, personally these are my favorites as well. These tours offer a mix of interviews, reviews, book excerpt posts, promo posts, giveaway stops and guest blog posts. You can choose not to include one or two of these, but in the end you’ll still have a mix of tour stops. I prefer these because they offer variety. Reviews are great if they all end up on Amazon, but sometimes people get tired of reading reviews. They want some author interaction. They want to see a sample of what the author wrote.
Giveaways are always fun as well, but make it worthwhile. eBook giveaways don’t gather as much attention as print copy giveaways or gift cards, but a gift card is pretty generic. Swag always does well too, so maybe you can offer that instead.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what you want. I would always ask up front to the organizer how many reviews he/she expects there will be during the tour, and if those people will post to Amazon, B&N or Goodreads, as this can help sales.
3) What can the company offer you for your budget?
Suppose your budget is $50. Take a look at what each company can offer you for that budget. Some may be able to offer you a one-week tour, while another company might even offer a one month long tour for that budget.
But don’t just jump on the bandwagon yet. Check what exactly you’ll get for your money. If the company is just starting out, chances are high there won’t be a lot of tour hosts yet. Be wary if they offer too much for too little, especially when compared to other companies.
Do they offer promotion for your book? Will you get reviews? Will you have to send paperback copies to tour hosts (there are hidden costs here, for the review copies and for the postage) or is it enough to send an eBook copy? Look for this information, and then decide where you can get the best value of your money. And remember: it’s not because they offer more tour stops, that they’ll give you more value. It’s a combination of things. Will they be able to deliver? Are their hidden costs? Find the answers to these questions before deciding anything.
4) Compare prices.
Now compare prices. If you’re looking for a cover reveal party, and two book tour companies offer the same services, but one charges $35 and the other charges $50, then go for the first. No need to pay extra if you get nothing extra in return. But like I said before, you may get something extra that you don’t notice at first – more blogs to host your reveal, more promotion – so read everything carefully.
5) Check their track record.
Is this the first tour the company has ever hosted, or one of the first? Or have they been hosting tours successfully for years? Check their testimonials page. What do other authors say who’ve set up tours with them? Does their website look professional, or like it’s been designed by a five year old? The last thing may not have much to do with tours as such, but it may be important for the company’s image. If they’ve earned enough the past year, they can afford a webdesigner, if they’re struggling, and their track record is less stellar, they may not be able to.
So before you schedule a tour, here are the questions to keep in mind:
1) What are you looking for?
2) What is your budget?
3) What company can give you the best value for your money?
4) Do they have a solid track record?
In the next virtual book tours related post, we’re going to talk about the first steps: contacting a tour company, what they will (probably) ask you to send them, what to do if they don’t respond, and what you reasonably can expect.