With the price of oil nearing $120 a barrel, and suggestions that it could hit $140 for the summer, it means that it has become impossible for most writers to justify the cost of a physical book tour. Looking at my own situation in Western Canada, I’d have to sell a lot of books in order to finance an overnight trip to appear at a couple of book signings in, say, Edmonton, 350 miles away. That’s a cost of nearly $400 dollars even if I’m going by cheap motel and fast food class. 300 books a day? Stephen King I aint.
If you’re a literary establishment writer – had the admired creative writing program in university, your poems printed in the right anthologies, you could get a grant to cover the cost of a tour. Otherwise, the alternative is to conduct the Book Tour online. You can organize your own and learn as you go along or hire a company to organize and host one for you.
There is probably much to be said for both, but to get the most out of any book tour, the process for each should be very similar. You still have to work diligently at them, and other writers have written how much. A really good article has appeared in this month’s issue of “The Fountain Pen”, by Mayra Calvani. The link is – http://mayrassecretbookcase.blogspot.com/2008/04/demystifying-virtual-book-tours-by.html Have a read of the whole newsletter while you’re there – visit: http://www.thefountainpennewsletter.blogspot.com The other point I would mention (in addition to my comment at the end of her article) is the warning not to expect the Blog Tour to be a one-off panacea. You’ll do best with another tour for your next book, provided you’ve put in the effort to make the most of them.
I think the final item for me to mention on my Virtual Book Tour retrospective is that of reviews.
When my first novel was published I found it difficult to get reviewers to read it. I know I’m not alone in this because, as a promotion tool, I started reviewing for the Muse Book Reviews http://themusebookreviews.tripod.com/ and I know most authors who approach me are really desperate for someone to take a look. (Yeah, I know that doesn’t make my reviewing sound very classy, but then I’m really rough on craft weakness.) Pump Up Your Book Promotion http://www.pumpupyourbookpromotion.com/ arranged for reviews as part of the tour from new readers who I would never have attracted.
I have my reviews posted on this site (surprise – they’re under ‘reviews’) for you to take a look at. With the Book Tour, I was taken up by three new reviewers – with another one promised (she won the free book promotion give-away and says she’ll post a review). It was especially interesting to find that all three did not normally read my genre, but liked my novels. It’s a bit late, but that tells me that I’m missing a lot of readers by being lumped with the Science Fiction crowd. But there isn’t a genre called “Alternate World Adventure with Kick-ass Female Protagonist in a 17th Century Period Setting”. I tried for SOFT Science Fiction, but the soft always gets dropped.
So you can be the judge. Was the Virtual Book Tour worth the cost just for the new unbiased and objective opinions about my writing and the series? The categories are over on the right – read and see.