VBT to go…
Whether you hire a professional to plan out your tour or do it yourself, there is still a lot of work that YOU must do: write up guest posts on various topics, answer several interview questions (often just a few questions per site), make graphics such as book covers and author shots available, write up a short bio, and most important of all, visit EACH site the day of your appearance (and for a few days after) to respond to comments.
Start by scouring the web for blogs that attract your audience (for instance, a romance reader probably wouldn’t be frequenting a blog with scientific journal articles) and query the blog owner (via email, NOT comments) if they would consider being a stop on a blog tour. (You might want to offer reciprocation, more on that later). If they say yes decide on a date and be clear about word count, what they expect from you (promo, no promo, graphics, interview, etc) and the date they need your submission.
It’s a good idea to keep a calendar or “assignment book” and list the date or your appearance, the URL of the blog, the specifics of what you are to provide and the “due date” so that you do not miss any deadlines or opportunities. Once you have a list of dates and appearances, post this list on your own blog or website, and publicize it through forums, email lists and social networks. The advantage to the person hosting your visit should be increased traffic to their site so publicize it thoroughly; ideally they will also be publicizing the event.
Be sure to stop by each blog on the day of your visit, and perhaps for the few days following, and be sure to respond to any comments visitors have left. Responding to comments makes the tour very personal and followers will feel that they have had a chance to get to know you. Don’t be disheartened if there are not a lot of remarks, some authors offer free books or other giveaways to generate comments. Be sure to post your own comment thanking the host for having you there.
If you have your own blog (and you definitely should as an author), you can offer reciprocal visits and benefit by increased traffic to your site. Use key words or tags and help search engines pick up your postings more readily. Each time a new visitor comes to your site because they are following another author you are hosting, you have gained exposure and may even find someone new following your regularly scheduled blog.
Keeping the buzz alive and making stops at other blogs can and should be continuous; it doesn’t always have to be a new book that you are promoting. Promote your backlist on an anniversary date, a milestone, or use a current news item to promote a theme. You can post a widget from a site like *BookTour.com and have a running list of both live and virtual appearances for blog visitors to see.
Writing exercise: Write an instruction guide for a common, everyday chore (housework, driving, dressing, making a phone call, etc.). Avoid making a simple list and using mere phrases. Write this instructional guide in the form of paragraphs and complete sentences. Make it detailed so that even if someone has never used a telephone they will know how to make a telephone call, etc.
Writing prompt: Using the seven numbers of your telephone number, in any order, write a very brief story about people sitting around a dinner table (how many people, how many dinner rolls, etc).
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