Virtual Book Tours

Working With Book Tour Companies: First Steps

In the last book tour related posts, we talked about what a virtual book tour is and about how to choose a book tour company to help you set up your book tour. This time around ,we’re going to talk about the basics: getting in touch with the tour company, what you can expect, when you should get in touch with them, and what to send them. I recommend you get your items ready beforehand, so you can send it to them as soon as possible.

1)      What do you want

Step one is to determine what you want. Most book tour companies offer several tour packages. Take a good look at what they offer, and what works for you.

 Also pay attention to how long beforehand they ask you to schedule a tour. Some companies demand at least two months (or more!) beforehand. Others work with more flexible deadlines. Don’t schedule a one month tour or longer a week before you’d like the tour to start. If the organizer takes it on anyway, he/she will have trouble filling up the tour. Plus, you will probably be disorganized because the tour starts too early for you to set everything up, you’ll get mad when there aren’t enough tour stops filled, and all in all, it causes too much stress. Better to start a few weeks later and have a great tour, than to start early and end up with a lot of people not posting.

 Another thing to keep in mind is the payment method. Most tour companies ask payment up front. You may wonder why. Technically these companies charge to set everything up for the tour. They give no guarantee that the tour will work out 100% like intended. They can’t physically ambush bloggers to host a post on a particular date. It’s always possible that one or two bloggers end up not posting, especially on larger tours. So the tour organizer charges for the work they put into prepping and promoting the tour. That’s why they charge up front. Refunds are usually not possible unless the tour host fails to deliver the basics like getting started on setting up the tour or coming up with a tour schedule. Generally you can’t get a refund because some blogs don’t post. But if the company has another policy, it may be worth checking into that. As for the payment method, most companies accept PayPal payment, others accept other payment methods as well.

 Make sure you have enough money in your account to pay, so you don’t have to end up delaying the tour because you couldn’t pay in time. It will make you feel embarrassed and stressed.

 Check their policy on what happens if people end up not posting. There are a few options. Some take no responsibility; others try to solve it by adding extra blogs in the mix. For example, a large tour may take up 16-20 tour stops. The “extra” tour stops (anything above 16) is to cover for the others if they end up not posting. So you’ll end up with the minimum, even if one or two blogs don’t post. Other companies look for replacement stops, and others offer discounts if a larger number of blogs end up not posting.

 2)      Contact the book tour company

All book tour companies have a website, and an easy way to contact them. This can be through a form, or through email. Either way, use an email address you use often as a contact address, so you can see their reply as soon as it comes in.

Ideally, tour companies have both a form and an email address to contact them at in case the form doesn’t work. They will state the amount of time it may take for them to get back to you. Don’t start harassing them with emails before that time has passed. If they state they’ll get back to you within three days and they haven’t, if it’s not urgent, wait another day before you send them another email. Preferably don’t fill in the form again – unless they ask you to do that, stick to their policy then. If they’ve gone a week without responding, it’s definitely all right to send them a mail. Forms have the tendency to get lost every now and then, and it’s possible they didn’t get your request in the first place.

Fill in the form completely. If they ask you to contact them by email, let them know what tour package you’re interested in, when you’d like the tour to start, the book’s title and genre. This may be helpful for them to consider how long it’ll take for them to set up the tour. You can also add the book blurb and promo links to your website, Twitter, Facebook, or links where the book can be purchased. If they ask you to add other information, please do so as well.

3)      Get Your Items Ready

In general, book tour companies will ask for the following:

–          Book Cover, Genre, Title and Blurb

The blurb is what it says on the back cover of your book. It’s typically 500 words or less. The other items are pretty straight-forward.

–          Author Bio and Picture

Some people swear on professional author pictures, but I’m personally a low budget person and I think every picture that you look nice on is fine. An author bio is a short bio about you. Keep it short, less than 500 words. People want to know about your book, and a little bit about your career, but they don’t want to hear about every detail of your life for the past x number of years.

–          Book Excerpts

The tour organizer will specify the number of excerpts they’ll need. Keep these ready beforehand if the number is mentioned on the website. Ideally keep your excerpts between 200-300 words, enough to get the reader’s attention but not too much so you don’t scare them away from reading.

–          Promotional Links

Send them links to your author website, author Twitter account, Facebook Page, Google+ Page and other social media you think are relevant. Also include links to where your book can be purchased, if applicable.

–          Review Copy

It’s possible the company works with both eBook and paperback review copies, in which case you’ll have to make sure you have some paperback copies to mail out. If the company is eBook only, then make sure you have at least .pdf format ready. This can be an ARC if your book isn’t released yet. If you have other formats, mention this (or attach them right away if the organizer asks for it). Other formats that are useful to include are .epub and .mobi.

Also prepare a date when you’d like to get started on the tour. Leave enough time for the tour organizer to set everything up and for you to get everything ready like interviews and guest posts. Keep in mind that if you want reviews, reviewers need time to set up those as well, and of course, to read your book.

4)      What You Can Expect

The tour organizer will get in touch with you, and probably ask you for the items I mentioned above. Get them to the tour organizer as soon as you can. No need to wait weeks at this point. Pay the bill and stay tuned.

Tour companies usually make banners for the tours. They will send this to you, and put it up on their website. You can put the banner up on your blog or Facebook page to help promote the tour. They will contact their tour hosts, and set up a schedule for the tour.

They will set up the schedule on their website when ready and give you the link. It’s a good idea to visit all the blogs participating beforehand, so you can see if something is up with one of the blogs or there are no dead links. Next, link the banner on your website to the schedule so all your visitors can see it and/or post the schedule on your website for extra exposure.

For interviews, in most cases the tour organizer will get the interview questions from the tour host and send them to you. Take your time (but not too much time) to reply to the questions, and send them back to the tour organizer. They will make sure to send your questions to the appropriate tour host. If possible, leave at least a few days to a week between you replying with your answers and when the interview is due, so the tour host has enough time to set up the post. These tour hosts don’t get paid – they have book blogs because they love them – but they’re not online 24/7, so give them the time they need to get everything ready.

For guest posts, it’s possible that the tour host suggests a topic themselves, or has specific guidelines. Follow them. It’s their blog, their rules. If they don’t have a specific topic in mind, you can write about whatever you want. Keep it related to your book and/or your writing though. There are lots of topics to choose from, but make it interesting. Keep it under 1000 words, or around that number. Send it out a week before the due date, so the tour host has time to put it on their website.

In our next post we’re going to talk about what happens during the tour: what if you get a bad review, how can you help promote the tour, how to encourage bloggers to post reviews on Amazon and Goodreads as well, etc.

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