Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Why Virtual Book Tours Work

I began coordinating virtual book tours (VBTs) before they were very popular. Three years later, I have managed tours for nearly 100 authors, spanning over 125 books. There are still a lot of questions out there about virtual book tours, but one of the topics that keeps coming up is, "Do virtual book tours sell books?"

My personal feeling is that a virtual book tour alone, without any push from the author, will not sell books unless that author is someone like Stephen King, Jerry Jenkins, or John Grisham.

So, what's all the hullabaloo about virtual book tours? Why bother coordinating one for your book or paying someone to coordinate a VBT for you?

Promotional vehicles for unknown or relatively unknown authors are used to create exposure for their books. These vehicles don't guarantee anyone will buy those books, but I've never seen any marketing tool that can 100% guarantee you'll sell anything.

I had experienced some decent sales online and from friends and family when my book first came out. Amazon's original stock of Little Shepherd was depleted and they ordered more. People sent me emails stating they purchased the book from Barnes & Noble.com or they asked me to mail them autographed copies from my stock.

This was great. I felt happy and proud. When I searched  my book on Goggle by the title, however, it was hard to find Little Shepherd on the first three pages.

I embarked upon a virtual book tour on October 4th. After only 17 days on tour, look at the results I'm getting now by typing Little Shepherd into Google:

I have results on Page 1, and also pages 2 and 4. Not bad.

Let's take a look at Bing, which is what I prefer to use:

I come in as the 2nd result on Page 1, and the next three results are stops from my virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book. If I keeping going, I also appear on pages 3, 4, and 5.

My name is also a keyword, but before the tour started I could find results for articles I had written and groups I belong to, but not many tied into the book. Now when I search for "Cheryl C. Malandrinos" in Google, nearly the entire first page has a tie in to Little Shepherd, whether it be a link to to my website, a tour stop, my book trailer for Little Shepherd on YouTube, or a post from the publisher's blog.

The first page of results in Bing wasn't as impressive as Google's, but 3 results had book tie ins, 2 results on the second page, and 3 results on the third page. To be honest, however, I haven't really concentrated on my name as much for a keyword, because I assume Little Shepherd would be a heck of a lot easier to remember than my eleven-letter Greek last name.

One thing I must also point out is that I increased my blogging efforts as soon as Guardian Angel released the book; I purchased my own domain name and created a new website through WordPress; and sought out additional opportunities to be a guest at other people's blogs. In addition, since my virtual book tour started, I have blogged here every day.

Do I believe virtual book tours work? Yes, I do. The proof is in black and white.

When combined with additional efforts from the author, virtual book tours are a very powerful way to create exposure for your book.


Anonymous said...


Glad you are doing well with your book tour. Great to know this information before my b ook tour in December. Thanks for sharing.
Nicole Weaver

V.R. Leavitt said...

This is great info, Cheryl!! Can't dispute the evidence.

Kai Strand, Author said...

Good info. Thanks for spelling it out like that. I'm one of those who has asked ;-)

Donna J. Shepherd said...

Glad you had such success! That's encouraging.

Cheryl said...

Thanks so much for stopping by everyone. I've been pleased by the results I am getting with my tour, and I hope others can use my exmaple to help them promote their books.

I am always open to talking about virtual book tours if you have questions.


Donna McDine said...

Hi Cheryl:

Concrete results indeed. You are wiz in facilitating virtual book tours and I'm delighted you coordinated mine for The Golden Pathway.

Best wishes,

Cheryl said...

Thanks Donna. I greatly appreciate your kind words. You've written a wonderful book. I wish you all the success in the world.


thewriterslife said...

I absolutely love this and you know as well as I know, the main purpose of a vbt is to get that book into the first 3 pages of google so that buyers from the outside who didn't even know about your tour will find you. Thousands upon thousands of people use these search engines and if you play your cards right and utilize what words people would put in google to find you, you've hit the jackpot. I keep meaning to ask, since your tour, are you seeing an increase in hits to your main website and this blog?

Janet Ann Collins said...

Cheryl, you're an expert and I'm glad it's paying off and helping your book sell well.

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

I've enjoyed the two virtual tours you've done for me, Cheryl, and also helping with the latest. I don't know about book sales, but my books and reviews were on many different blogs which got my name out there and my books. It has to help.

Thanks and best of luck with Little Shepherd.

Mayra Calvani said...

Wonderful article about the power of vbts! I was wondering if I could post it on my blog as a guest post. I'll include your cover, links, etc.

Cheryl said...

Thanks for stopping by Dot. I was a bit surprised actually, how much hits to my blogs have increased in the past month. Not only that, the people checking out older posts at The Book Connection blog is high, which verifies what I keep telling people about the challenge in gauging VBT sales and the advantage VBTs have because new readers can find you months after you've visited a blog.

My most viewed post at The Book Connection over the past month was one from September 2009. Odd, but it obviously was of interest to people.

John Knoerle's post from last month on slang in fiction has been visted often, as has Chris Stookey's recent guest post on Alzheimer's and clinical trials, and how those tie into his book.

My most viewed post at Book Tours and More is the spotlight I ran on October 24th for Donna McDine's book; but even Judge Glenda Hachett's post from September and Anne Vincent's post from April are getting good hits.

The most viewed post here is still my welcome message, but that is followed closely by my posts about giveaways, and also this post about VBTs. In the past month, I've had over 900 hits, and the majority of that time I was on tour.

Hits to my website haven't increased dramatically (only 5 additional hits since I started it), but I still need to have it designed to do what I want. I think that will help. My old website on tripod, also saw a tiny bump of 3 or 4 more hits a week. Honestly, I'm more a blog type person than a website one.

Thanks for asking about this. It truly helps to provide a better overall picture of my VBT's success.


Cheryl said...

Jan, thanks for your lovely words. I appreciate them.

Thanks for your comments, Bev. I believe that's the right kind of attitude to have, though I do hope sales came along too.

Mayra, feel free to use it, and if you think the additional information about website and blog hits would help too, feel free to add it.

Thanks to everyone for their comments so far. I hope more people drop by to share.


Rebecca said...

I like how this has become the journal of your vbt. Such interesting and helpful information here. Wishing you much success on your book. Have fun!

Cheryl said...

Thanks Becky. I'm glad you like it.

Virginia S Grenier said...

Great info and thanks for sharing Cheryl. I think this is just one great tool authors need to use to help get exposure and having someone who not only puts them together, but also has done a tour talk about it is very encouraging.

Karen Cioffi said...

Interesting post. That is certainly one thing VBTs can do, create visibility, and that's the name of the game.

Cheryl said...

Thanks for stopping by Virginia and Karen. It different being on tour than just touring another author. It's definitely giving me a much better idea of the whole picture.


Mayra Calvani said...

Thank you, Cheryl! Again, great post! I'll let you know when it goes live.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

You are the best when it comes to blog tours, glad it's paying off for your book.


Cheryl said...

Thanks Mayra.

Aw, Marilyn, you're making me blush. Looking forward to our tour next month. I know you have an article talking about VBTs too.

Thanks for the comments ladies.


NancyCL said...

I am so impressed and wish you nothing but continued success. Keep up the great work!

Cheryl said...

Nancy, you're so sweet. Thanks for your support.