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Guest Post: Launching a Virtual Book Tour, Part 2

Editor's Note: This is a continuation of yesterday's post in which Alisa shared what inspired her to launch a virtual book tour and how she pulled it off. By Alisa Bowman
How Not to Approach a Blogger

Because I have a blog, I get approached several times a week by people who want me to write about their books. This was quite helpful for me, because I could learn from what these folks were doing wrong. Here are some ways NOT to approach a blogger about your book.

Fail to mention the blogger by name or the blog by name. This shows that you couldn’t be bothered to spend enough time on the blogger’s site to figure these essentials out. If you couldn’t spend a few minutes figuring these things out, why should the blogger spend two or three entire evenings reading your book?

Ask someone else to approach a blogger. I almost never read emails from paid publicists, unless, for some reason, I already know them. There’s nothing in it for me.

Send an email that has been cut and pasted. Again, it shows that you care very little about the blogger and the blog.

Lie and say, "I love your blog!" but obviously have no clue what it's about. Insincerity fills the spaces between all of your typed words.

Not take the time to match your pitch to the blog. For instance, when people approach me to promote their dating books, I just delete their emails. If they can't take the time to read my land page, I'm not going to take the time to reply.

Make it all about you and what the blogger can do for you.
The blogger isn’t motivated by what he or she can do for you. The blogger is motivated by what you can do for her.

Want you to review a book on a specific day or week. I delete every email I get that starts with, “We’re running an Amazon.com bestseller campaign and we’d like you to be a part of it!” There’s nothing in it for me except for this: a headache.

Make a review the only option. I can’t read every single book that comes my way. With 3 to 10 authors pitching me every week, it’s just impossible. If you make it all about book reviews, it will limit your tour.

How To Approach a Blogger

This is what I did to increase the likelihood that bloggers would join the tour.

I put something in it for them. I offered to link back to their site twice—on my book review page and on each new post I wrote. I also offered to love up their posts with my social media might.

I made it as easy as I could to join the tour. They didn’t even have to read the book. I wrote guest posts. I did Q&A interviews. I offered books for giveaways. Note: everything I created for the tour was fresh material, and it was as awesome as I could write it. I did not recycle old content. I did not write half assed content. I wanted every blogger to feel blessed to have my words on their sites.

I made it easy for bloggers to read the book, too. From personal experience, I knew that the last thing a blogger wants to do is spend time sitting at her computer reading a PDF. I made sure to get a paper book into the hands of every blogger who joined the tour.

I pressured no one. I, of course, said that it would be nice if they featured the book within the first two weeks of release, but I did not make this mandatory. I welcomed whatever they could do and whenever they could do it. And I promised to never hassle them. I even gave them an out. If they read the book and didn’t like it, they didn’t have to tell me. If I never heard from them after sending the book, I would assume they’d dropped off the tour.

I got creative. When my book was off topic for someone, I helped figure out a way to get it on topic. I wrote a guest post, for instance, about how to deal with a back seat cook for a cooking site. I wrote about how we cut costs at home to pay for some of my book costs—and how this helped me become more eco-friendly—for a green site.

I was as polite and gracious as possible. The phrases “thank you” and “you are awesome” became regular parts of my vocabulary. I did not complain about a single review. If they wrote about the book, I loved it.

The Results

So far more than 50 bloggers have posted reviews, guest posts, interviews or giveaways. Some of these sites syndicated, giving me two hits for the effort of one. For instance, a review on ThirdAge.com (roughly 3 million readers) syndicated to Yahoo Shine! (roughly 20 million readers). A story on WomansDay.com (about 1 million readers) syndicated to MSN.com (about 60 million readers).

I don’t know how all of this affected book sales because I’ve stopped following those. That’s a story for another day. But I can tell you this: the virtual tour has helped me forge relationships that will last a lifetime. I am now tight with many bloggers who—just a few months ago—were strangers to me. The very people I was almost too scared to approach have become among my best virtual friends.

headshot of Alisa Bowman

Alisa Bowman is the author of Project: Happily Ever After, which tells the story of how she went from the brink of divorce to falling back in love. She is also the creator of ProjectHappilyEverAfter.com, which is a gathering spot for recovering divorce daydreamers. She will be talking about her virtual book tour during the “Renegade Book Publicity” panel at the upcoming American Society for Journalists and Authors Conference in New York on April 29th. Ed. Note: I’ll be moderating a panel about ebooks at the same conference the following day, so come soak up all our writerly wisdom!
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Guest Post: Launching a Virtual Book Tour, Part 2 + social media