Whether laced with abject fear or indescribable giddiness, one thing all writers dream about is going on a book tour.
You have visions of flying into a faraway town and being swept from book shop to book shop. You meet fans, sign copies of your masterpiece and get interviewed about you characters and what makes them tick.
When you’re an indie writer, this is where the bubble bursts. Forget jet-setting and limo rides. The only book tour you can afford to take is to chatting up about your latest tome with the cashier at Trader Joe’s or Target.
But there are economical ways to get people buzzing about your book and one of them is the virtual book tour. Basically, you sign up for a service where people agree to read your books and review them, providing that much needed booster shot either before or just after a book launch (Before works best).
The plus side is that people who others listen to are reading your book. They are sharing their thoughts, discussing the relative strengths and weaknesses of your story line and character descriptions. You have arrived. People who enjoy your genre have picked up your book and are telling their friends about it.
This also is the downside.
The problem with indie writing in particular is that you tend to live in this isolated bubble where your family and friends who love you are just amazed you wrote a book (or another book). They likely aren’t going to say anything too bad.
When you ask people to give honest opinions in their reviews, that is exactly what they are going to do. While I have more Amazon reviews than any of my other titles, my overall rating is lower than with my previous books. I still have really good reviews, but I’m probably not as good a writer as those who love me kept telling me I was.
All in all, I wholly recommend creative and cost-effective ways to promote your books, even if not every response is glowing.
There is an axiom about too much heat and a kitchen that comes to mind.
One of the greatest challenges most authors face is not in the development of a story, but in its distribution. Whether or not a wordsmith is an introvert or extrovert, the process of marketing one’s creation is none too easy.
Many years ago, a publisher did much of the marketing for its favored scribes. But, with the explosion of stories and platforms for authors to share those stories, said publicity falls mainly on the shoulders of the writers. This is why I am going on tour for the next two weeks.
A blog tour, that is.
For the next two weeks, bloggers from around the country will feature my novel, Running. These book lovers have read my latest Jim Mitchell story and will give their honest opinion of its merits. While putting myself out there is scary, the potential payout in increased buzz (and hopefully book sales) is the price that must be paid.
It would be easy to reject this option, and to remain safely ensconced behind my screen, selling a couple of books here and there. But part of being a storyteller is going out there and telling the tale you have to tell, whether or not people enjoy the adventure you have led them on.
In that spirit, I shall venture forth.
Writer friends of mine often talk about “the olden days” when literary giants used to scribble out their manuscripts and fairy godmothers known as publishers took care of all that pesky publicity stuff. All Austen, Fitzgerald and Hemingway had to do was show up, sign books and bask in the adulation of their fans.
OK, I’ll be the first to admit we might be looking at the past through rather rosy-colors lenses, but, with the rise of print-on-demand platforms, both indie and traditionally published authors are competing for the same audiences and need to employ new tools and techniques to get eyeballs to read your latest masterpiece.
This has led to the creation of the Launch Team, a small cadre of loyal fans who read your work in advance and use their personal and social media network to boost interest (and eventual sales) of your work.
People make this sound easy, but rest assured it is not. Basically, you need to recruit friends that will act like a literary Navy SEAL team. You want people who like your work and you enough to spread the word but do so for little pay or few rewards (unless you have the budget for that, which you probably don’t). You are, in essence, asking people for a favor with the hope they will help create the all-powerful “buzz” your book requires for success.
My first book did fairly well, but, because of some mistakes on my part, book two sold rather poorly. This time around, I’m hoping that a little advanced planning, plus the kindness and generosity of my friends, this book launch will enjoy a bit more success.
Next week we’ll find out if this hare-brained scheme actually works.
I've been writing stories and taking photos since I was old enough to hold a pencil and stand behind a tripod.