social media

So You’re Booking A Virtual Book Tour?

Imagine if you will:

You’ve published your novel.  Your mom, sister and best friend have purchased it. Your cousin smiled and asked for a free copy while your neighbor has studiously avoided you since you announced your happy news.

Your sales report from KDP is nothing short of humbling.

Now what?

You’ve checked into several options and seeing as how your marketing budget is quite limited.  You’ve decided to take your book on tour – a virtual tour.

STOP!

Before you go any further, before you sign on the dotted line, let me share a little of my experience as both a touring author and hosting blogger…

thinkingClose your eyes and picture yourself sitting at a table in your favorite bookstore.  There’s a line of people eager to meet you, patiently waiting for you to sign their copy of your novel. Of course, you smile.  You schmooze. You pull out your trusty pen and you sign your name with a flourish – just as you’ve practiced so many times before.

Now:  Open your eyes and let’s talk about your virtual book tour.  Because while they are much the same, they are uniquely different. Instead of a line of people physically standing in front of you, there will be countless people sitting in front of their computer screens.

First:  Do your homework.  Make sure that the tour organizer you’ve selected is a good fit for your book.  This is easy enough to figure out. Sometimes, you can tell just by the name.  (ex:  Deb’s Chic Lit Tours) Other times,  the name won’t give you a clue. (ex: Deb’s Virtual Book Tours) This is when you need to look at the books that are currently touring and those that have previously toured.  Is your book’s genre well represented? If so, go a step further.  Visit the host sites.  Note the visits/interaction on the site or the lack there of. Remember: It’s up to each individual blogger to sign up to host your book. There’s no guarantee that you’re going to be featured on a site with heavy traffic. However, a blogger who wants to increase their traffic is going to do their best to help generate views by sharing the post on various social media sites.

Next:  After you’ve selected your tour organizer – you will receive requests for book excerpts, author interviews and guest posts.  Meet the requirements.  If a blogger is willing to participate with your tour, offering you space on his/her blog – then kindly oblige with the requested guest post or interview.

Finally:  This is important.  Be selective in the dates you choose as tours are time consuming.  Just like with a face to face book signing, virtual book tours require that the author be present.  This can get tricky especially when juggling jobs, families and other obligations.

On occasion, I participate with virtual book tours as a host.  What I’ve seen has left me scratching my head.  I share a post featuring the author and their novel.  My readers comment with things like:  This sounds interesting!  Or Sounds like my kind of book!  

And the author’s response:  imagine

Seriously?  Potential readers are being ignored.

While the author has paid for the tour, he/she must remember that is more of an organizational fee.  It isn’t the hosts job to sell your book.  The hosts offer you, the author, a seat at the table, a place at the podium, a little time in the spotlight. But – it’s up to the you to take advantage of the opportunity.

How?  That’s easy:

*Stop by and thank the host for having you on their blog.  (You may have to get up a little earlier than usual to make that early morning visit.)

*Check in periodically through out the day.  (Lunch, breaks, after work)

*Share the post on your social media sites.

*Enlist the help of family and friends by asking them to follow your tour and share the posts.

*AND FOR GOODNESS SAKE – Acknowledge the comments!  Those comments were made by people who found something interesting about the book, interview, etc. Failing to do so isn’t any different than getting up and walking away from that table in your favorite book store, paying no attention to those folks in line.

ChirpDon’t forget – The people who take the time to read the posts and comment are potential book buyers…

And ultimately, isn’t that the point of doing a virtual book tour?

Don’t Let Time Pass You By

As writers, we each face our own struggles.  I tend to think a lot of my issues could be alleviated if I had more time in the day. Seeing as how I don’t have access to a magical hourglass, I had to consider other options.  The one that screamed for my attention was time management.  My situation is not unique.  Like many of you, I work full time.  That leaves a few short hours a day to take care of my home/family, exercise, write and grow my audience.

Building my author platform

It’s hard.

Who knew there would be so much effort required?  I thought writing the novel was supposed to be the most difficult part. Imagine my surprise when I realized I needed a twitter account, a Facebook author page, a blog, etc.

It’s time consuming.

Each plank in the platform comes from the connections we make.  Those connections take time to cultivate.  That means we reach beyond ourselves.  We engage others.  We listen to their ideas. We share ours.  In short, being a good neighbor requires being social.

But – here’s the catch

Building my platform was taking too much of my writing time.  Seriously.  It was so easy to get caught up in reading the posts on certain Facebook pages.  And then there was Pinterest. My goodness – I was on my way to becoming a “Pinning” junkie.  I have boards dedicated to my blog, to interesting faces, beautiful places – things that may or may not inspire scenes in future stories.  There’s boards dedicated to my books.  I’m sure you get the picture.  😉

I needed to get a handle on my socializing…

I love my blog.  I love the blogging community.  I decided that my blog would become the hub of my social media/platform building efforts.

Blog Hub

This is still a work in progress.  But it has helped ease the stress of coming up with so many new ideas for posting to the different social media sites.  Take my Facebook Author page – I guess I’m a bit ambivalent when it comes to this page.  I hate feeling as though I’m shouting Look At Me! and my Facebook author page makes me feel that way.  By sharing my blog, I have activity on my page without bashing people over the head with Buy My Book posts.

There’s still the Time Management thing…

This requires discipline and lots of it.  I’m not the most disciplined person.  I have a tendency to fly by the seat of my pants – which is probably why I’m a pantzer and not a plotter.  To help keep myself on task, I came up with a schedule. It’s helped by making me more mindful of my time.  I decided to limit my interactions to about 30 minutes an evening.  That means I have to choose which sites/communities I am going to visit.  Take Mondays, for example.  I’ll visit blogs that I follow as well as Twitter.  Tuesdays will be G+ communities and maybe a stop at my Facebook Author page.  It’s not a perfect plan but it is helping me stay focused and freeing up my time.

schedule

Not sure where the lines that separate Thursday, Friday, and Saturday went…

I’m always looking for new ideas… What are you doing to maximize your writing time?

BLOGGING 101 – A GREAT EXPERIENCE

writer's blockFor the past three weeks, I’ve participated in an online class offered by WordPress (Blogging University). The class was Blogging 101. Wow! That’s all I can say.  I’ve been blogging for a while but it’s been a lot of trial and error and hoping. This class boosted my confidence.  I realized I knew more than what I thought but that I had plenty of things on which to improve. My fellow bloggers were awesome.  They took the time to read my posts as well as leave helpful comments. They truly were great neighbors.

Because of the assignments (challenges) issued, I was forced to step out of my comfort zone.  I visited other blogs and left comments (that was something I didn’t often do).  I am now following a variety of different blogs – writers, travelers, photographers, etc. – I have found they each offer something from which I have benefited.

I must admit there was a downside to the class.  Working a forty hour week doesn’t leave me with much time to devote to my current work in progress and completing the assignments pretty much sucked up most of my evenings.  Having said that, I think the pros outweighed the cons.  In fact, I’ve already signed up for Blogging 201.

Day Fourteen: Extend Your Brand

I feel like I accomplished this assignment back in Week 1.  When I changed my blog theme, I also changed my Twitter, Facebook and G+ page headers. They aren’t exactly alike but they’re pretty dang close.

FACEBOOK PAGE COVER

D.S. MCKNIGHT (1)

TWITTER HEADER

D.S. MCKNIGHT (4)

GOOGLE + COVER

G+ Page Header

D.S. McKnightInstead of creating a Blavatar, I decided to stick with the image I’ve been using on all my social media sites. While I don’t love my picture, it’ll do until I schedule some time with a photographer.

Favorite Hashtags!

Hashtags!  

They’re everywhere!

Used correctly, they can help us maximize our reach.

Below, I’ve listed hashtags that I’ve found quite useful.

Microsoft Word ClipArt

Microsoft Word ClipArt

Connect with writers:

#AmWriting

#AmEditing

#AmRevising

#Author

#Writer

#WritersLife

#Writing

#WordCount

#IndieAuthor

#WIP

Connect with Readers

#AmReading

#FictionFriday

#FridayReads

#GoodReads

#GreatRead

#IndieThursday

#KDP

#Kindle

#MustRead

#WhatToRead

There’s also: 

#MondayBlogs

#SundayBlogShare

Did I miss one of your favorite hashtags?  If so, please share in the comments!