Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Whew, I'm glad that's done! (Virtual book touring)

This is the last week of my virtual book tour to promote the March 8th release of Deadly Currents, the first book in my new RM Outdoor Adventures mystery series from Midnight Ink. And the title of this post says it all. I'm soooo glad I'm nearing the end! My last blogtalkradio interview was yesterday, and my last blog visit was the day before. For the rest of this week, I'm just chatting with the Barnes & Noble Booksellers Mystery Book Club on-line and giving them "reports from the field" about the Left Coast Crime conference that I'll be attending next week.

To see my virtual book tour schedule, go here. And to see the schedule of the virtual book tour I did two years ago in 2009, go here. I made 21 stops during my tour in 2009, and I vowed to make this year's tour shorter. Well, that didn't quite turn out as planned. I had 20 stops on this year's schedule. Late in the planning process, I added some on-line reviewers and two blogs that are related to my sleuth's current profession as a river ranger (the River Ranger blog) and past profession as a whitewater rafting guide (the O.A.R.S. Waterblogged blog). Important additions, in my mind.

I started planning the tour in December and finished writing my articles and answering interview questions by the end of February. I did all that up-front work so I could focus in March on juggling logistics, responding to comments, and promoting the virtual book tour stops. Also in March, I've had to do radio and print interviews, design and order bookmarks, update my website, send out an email newsletter, conduct two launch signings in Colorado Springs and Denver, and attend the Left Coast Crime conference, with two signings in Los Alamos, NM and Pueblo, CO on either end of that trip. There's no way I could be writing my guest posts while all that was going on!

Other authors have asked me whether a virtual book tour is worth all the work that goes into it. After doing two virtual book tours, my answer is I don't know. Yes, my Amazon and Barnes & Noble ranks decreased (which is a good thing). Yes, reviews started popping up on reader forums and groups. Yes, the number of libraries stocking Deadly Currents went up in WorldCat. But were those positive signs due to the virtual book tour or something else? Who knows?

It's way too soon after the release to have any kind of hard sales data. And, even if I did, there's no way to know if a book purchase is due to the buyer having heard about the book or me from my virtual book tour, or if they found out some other way. A virtual book tour is just one part of the whole mix to create buzz.

In sales, they say a consumer has to hear about a product 5 - 7 times before they make the buy decision. My hope is that readers seeing some of the articles, reviews, or interviews with me or my characters during the course of my virtual book tour took care of 1 - 3 of those "product views." And, that once they see it again in a bookstore or on-line retailer, they'll make that buy decision. Or, that once they see me in person at a signing or mystery conference, they'll make the buy decision. Those in-person events are where I can glean some anecdotal evidence about the effectiveness of the virtual book tour. Do people mention that's where they first heard about the book, or were intrigued by the setting or main character?

Another question I get from authors is, would I do it again? You know, I equate it to having a baby. Right after the birth, when all the pain and hard work of labor is fresh in a mother's mind, the answer is "Heck, no!" But about two years later, those vivid bad memories have faded and are replaced by the sweet smiles of the baby in your arms. And mom is ready for another one.

It's the same with a virtual book tour. In about two years, I hope the memories of the hard work I put into the tour will be replaced by the sweet smiles of readers telling me how much they enjoyed reading Deadly Currents. Until then, my answer to the question of would I do it again is "Heck no!" ;-)

I'd love to hear your feedback on my tour, or virtual book tours in general, especially if you conducted or followed one recently. What do you think of them?


Maryann Miller said...

I hope you can find a bit of time to relax after this whirlwind of promotion, but I know the promoting never stops. (smile)

I've done virtual book tours and I think it is beneficial in the long run. Often we don't see immediate tangible results, but we are building momentum. I did visit several of your blog stops and liked the fact that you varied content and topics. I think that is important to keep reader interest.

I have focused more on guest blogging in this past year. Since I deal in so many other deadlines with editing projects and book submissions, I like the more casual approach to guesting as opposed to the structured tour.

Sharon said...

Wow! That does sound like a lot of work! I liked your analogy of having a baby. I haven't done a virtual book tour, but you gave me some good ideas if I ever decide to do one.

Beth Groundwater said...

Hi Maryann,
I know quite a few other authors who do what you do, and when I'm not on a tour, I guest at another blog once or twice a month. Doing that, however, doesn't build momentum like a virtual blog tour does, increasing exposure. It just keeps your name out there, hopefully preventing it from dropping into obscurity.

Hi Sharon,
Yes, it's a lot of work, but if you prepare waaay ahead of time, you can spread that work out. I usually advise fellow authors to limit their VBTs to two weeks. I just wish I followed my own advice!

Lois Winston said...

Beth, congratulations on nearing the end. I did a virtual blog tour in January, and I can certainly empathize with you. All promo is such a crapshoot. We can only hope that what we do works more times than not. Also, good luck with the new release!

Beth Groundwater said...

Thanks for the good luck wishes, Lois. And I remember your virtual book tour--you seemed to be EVERYWHERE in January!

Darrell James said...

Beth- I'm always torn about how much virtual blog tours really count in the bigger scheme of things. As you said, there's no way of knowing for sure. I'll let you know how I feel after my "baby" is here.

Congratulations on Deadly Currents!

Alan Orloff said...

Blog touring is a lot of work. I wish I had the stamina that you have, Beth!

Alice Loweecey said...

Yay, Beth! Now you can relax for, oh, half an hour. :D

My book tour was a fraction of yours, and it still took up huge chunks of time. I got many positive responses from it and a few sales that I know of. But, like much publicity, I'll only know the final results down the road.

Beth Groundwater said...

Thanks for your comments, Darrell, Alan, and Alice!

As I'm prepping for LCC after coming off the VBT, I'm wondering if I have the stamina to be "on" for four days straight! :)

Ricky Bush said...

I've been following your virtual book tour and it wore me out. It's bound to pay dividends.

Deborah Sharp said...

I'm torn on these things, Beth. I know it's good to get your name out there, but it just seems that EVERYONE is doing the same: tweeting, Facebook, asking people to vote for their kids' band group online ... it just seems to never end, the cyberclatter. How do you even break thru to convince people you have something to say? Hope you hear from lots of folks who visited your blog stops. Cheers, and see you at Malice?

jennymilch said...

"Even" major publishers struggle with what sort of marketing really sells books, as you probably know, Beth (the quotes because I don't know that the majors are to be considered those most likely to know, if anyone does) so I would say you're doing great so long as your readers enjoy the tour and you don't drive yourself too crazy. I read many of your stops and really liked them, found them different enough from each other to keep me going on to others--but, I would've bought your book anyway. For what that's worth :) Maybe now you can return to "just" writing for a while??