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How To Plan A Virtual Book Tour in 8 Steps

Updated: Sep 20, 2023

Let’s face it, carrying copies of our books around in the trunks of our cars may be as close as some of us will ever get to a physical book tour…

Virtual Book Tour | At Home Author

But a VIRTUAL book tour is actually an extremely affordable and effective way to launch a new release or promote a book whose sales have stalled.

And the best part? You can do it from the comfort of your own home!

What is a Virtual Book Tour?

A virtual book tour is a series of interviews, articles, or reviews of your book hosted on various book blogs or websites over a two-month period. (You’ll sometimes hear them referred to as “blog tours.”) So instead of physically traveling to various bookstores and venues in an attempt to reach your readers…you travel to various blogs and websites and meet them online!

The goal of a virtual book tour is:

  • To keep your book “top of mind” on social media for an extended period of time.

  • To generate excitement among people who are already fans.

  • To introduce your book to potential new readers.

Read on to find out how to make a virtual book tour part of your book launch or marketing plan!

Note: For the purposes of this article, I’m going to assume you’re planning a virtual tour leading up to a new book release. But, you can easily use this same strategy to promote a book that’s already out. Just choose any two-month time frame to focus your efforts.

Step 1: Know Your Release Date

The last thing you want is to have to cancel or reschedule every "stop" on your tour because your book isn’t ready. It’s a hassle for you and inconvenient for the hosts who will be relying on you to fill their posting schedule. So before you even begin...

  • If you’re going to be traditionally published, check with your publisher about your official release date. (And talk to them about a virtual tour in general. They may already have something planned.)

  • If you’re self-publishing, make sure you have a solid release date set. I would recommend waiting until the illustrations are complete to pick your release date, and then make sure it's a few months in the future. Once you have that, begin scheduling stops on your tour.

Step 2: Research Hosts

You can actually begin researching hosts for your virtual book tour months before you even think about setting a release date. That’s because the internet is a big place, and research takes time! So dig in and start making a list of bloggers, influencers, podcasts, and other websites that might be willing to feature you and your book.

Keep them organized for easy future reference. A simple spreadsheet works great!

Pro Tips:

  • Check their websites to see whether they are open to guests, and if so, how to contact them.

  • Obviously, book blogs are the best place to start. (Here’s a list of options from Reedsy.) But think outside the box! Does your book have a STEM angle? Consider reaching out to teacher blogs! Is your book about a rescue dog? Maybe a local animal shelter would be willing to feature you on their website!

  • See if they have a regular feature that would work for your book. (Wanna Read It Wednesday, Monthly “Meet the Author,” etc.) Mention it in your pitch.

  • Consider influencers who may not have a blog to post on, but who could do something more interactive, like an Instagram Live or a podcast interview.

  • As you research, be sure to subscribe to each potential host’s newsletters and/or follow them on social media. They WILL check this when you contact them.

  • There are some websites that will post a feature about your book for a fee. Approach with caution! In my experience, the payoff is almost never worth the cost.

Step 3: Write a Pitch Letter

This is just an email, introducing yourself and your book, and asking the potential host to feature you on their website.

It should include:

  • A short author bio.

  • A link to your website and your contact information.

  • A blurb of the book and the cover image.

  • The release date of the book.

  • An explanation of how your book would appeal to their audience.

  • An offer of something free for them or their audience. This could be a free copy of the book for them, a giveaway of a free book to one of their readers, a free downloadable resource, etc.

  • Thank them for considering!

Step 4: Send Out the Pitch

Since you’ll want the tour itself to start about 2 months prior to the book’s release, start reaching out to people 3-4 months prior to the release date. You will get rejections and you will be ignored by some of the people you reach out to. Don’t be offended! Just keep on pitching!

Step 5: Make a Schedule

As you start to hear back from hosts, you’ll find that most of them have a posting schedule they are trying to fill. Some will give you a choice of dates, while others will offer to post about you on a specific date— take it or leave it.

Try your best to spread the appearances out over the two months prior to your book’s release - about one appearance per week for a total of 6-8 appearances. Be flexible if you need to!

Step 6: Be Ready

Check your email often as the dates get closer and be responsive to the hosts. Do they need a headshot photo? Have it ready for them! The link to your website isn’t working? Get it fixed, pronto!

Step 7: Go On Tour!

Share each host’s post on all your social media accounts and your email subscriber list (if you have one). Be sure to tag and thank them for hosting!

  • Pro Tip: Be responsive to commenters. Many bloggers allow their readers to comment on the post itself on their website. Be active there! It makes the readers feel special and increases the chances they’ll remember you!

Step 8: Follow-Up With Thank Yous

A couple of days after each post goes live, follow up with a thank you email to the host. If you’ve agreed to give away a free book to one of their followers, make sure you stay in touch with them and get it sent out to the winner as soon as possible.

And that’s it! You’ve officially gone on your first book tour! Sound like too much work? Consider hiring a publicist to handle it all for you.

Need more marketing ideas? Check out these blog posts and our comprehensive marketing course for children's book authors!

Book Marketing Ideas | Marketing Course for Authors

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