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Does the thought of having to travel across the country (or further) to deal with interviews and book signings make you cringe as an author? Would you rather be home working on your next book instead? The good news is that virtual publicity tours have been picking up steam for a while now in the book publicity world, meaning authors can do more to promote their books without traveling, forking over the money to help support a traditional book publicity tour, or taking too much time away from writing. The best part is that virtual publicity tours can even give you a broader reach to your target readers, and plenty of opportunities for author-reader interaction.

What is a Virtual Publicity Tour?

A virtual book publicity tour is much like a traditional tour - the author will "visit" various outlets to talk about their book and interact with readers on a more personal level.

The difference between a traditional book publicity tour and a virtual book tour is that an author doesn't participate in person - they do so "virtually" (meaning from home, their office, or wherever they choose).

Types of Virtual Publicity Tours for Authors

While we generally think of virtual publicity tours as online book promotion, such as a virtual blog tour, that's not always the case. Here are some examples of virtual touring options you may want to consider while promoting your next book:

  • Virtual Blog Tours - Interviews - This is exactly what it sounds like. You, or your publicist, will set up virtual interviews with bloggers covering the niche or subject matter of your book. They can work for fiction as well as non-fiction authors, including e-book and self-published authors. Emails may be done over the phone, via email, or in any fashion the author and blogger agree on prior to having the interview write-up completed and published by the blogger.
  • Virtual Blog Tours - Guest Posts - If you're not interested in having bloggers interview you, you may prefer to handle your virtual publicity tour through guest posting. This is article marketing for authors, simply put to a schedule. You'll find related blogs again who would have a reach with your target market. You'll contact them asking if you can submit a guest post to be published on a specific day as a part of your campaign (which may last a week, a month, or any amount of time you choose). You fill in all slots on your schedule, and have your articles published with a brief bio and link to your site or a place where readers can buy your book.
  • Virtual Blog Tours - Reviews - This is similar to guest post virtual blog tours. You contact bloggers asking if they'd like to receive a review copy, with a goal of having all reviews published within a certain time period. This is the type of virtual blog tour I'd least suggest, as you'll have little control over when the books are read or the content of the reviews. You should be soliciting reviews anyway, so there's no real "need" to try to do it on a narrow schedule - they should be ongoing.
  • Phone Interview Publicity Tours - Here's an offline option for you that works well if you're interested in targeting radio or even television interviews. Both can be done live or pre-recorded over the phone (or with remote video for television).
  • Podcast Virtual Book Tours - Doing a virtual publicity tour with podcasters and Internet radio shows can be done in a few ways, such as over the phone or through Web-based services like Skype. They're similar to radio interviews (where podcast interviews are usually pre-recorded, and Internet radio interviews may be pre-recorded or done live). The key for these is identifying podcasts or online radio shows relevant to your target readers.
  • Live Chat Tours - Chat rooms can seem so "old school" these days, but they still work as an author publicity tool, and an excellent series of "stops" for a virtual publicity tour for your book. These chat interfaces will allow you to speak live online to an audience of readers or potential readers about your book or the subject matter, allowing them to ask you questions directly. Chat rooms can be set up by you and your publicist, done at specific time intervals, or can be done through chats hosted on related sites.

Upcoming Virtual Book Tour

On July 7th, All Book Marketing will actually be helping to kick off a virtual blog tour, using the guest post method I've mentioned above.

On that day, I'll be publishing a guest post from author Austin S. Camacho in support of his new book Successfully Marketing Your Novel in the 21st Century. Camacho is doing a sort of hybrid virtual blog tour that serves as a good example: offering bloggers choices of interviews, guest posts, excerpts, etc. with the objective of receiving a steady flow of blog exposure during the tour. Be sure to check that out on the 7th, and keep an eye out for his other virtual appearances to watch a real virtual publicity tour in action.

Authors Weigh In

Have you ever taken part in a virtual publicity tour to promote your book or its launch? What was the experience like for you, and would you do it again?

Thanks for sharing!
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Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. She runs numerous websites & blogs including All Freelance Writing, NakedPR.com, and BizAmmo.com.

Jenn has 18 years experience writing for others, around 13 years experience in blogging, and over 10 years experience in indie e-book publishing. She is also an Active member of the Horror Writers Association.

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