Thursday, September 25, 2008

Coffee, Tea and you want me to host what?

Virtual book tours (or blog book tours) are the wave of the future. With the economy as it is and finances dropping (as well as some institutions on the verge of collapse), doing a live book tour is getting near impossible. The travel alone is the biggest expense an author has to incur to do a book tour. You have to spend your time schmoozing with the managers of the bookstores or wherever you happen to want to set up a book signing with no guarantee that you will make enough sales (that's of course sales for the store and receiving royalties months later which amount to pennies on the dollar; most authors make less than $1 per book, even priced at $25 for a hardback copy), then either book a flight or drive to your destination, book a hotel for the number of nights you plan to be in the area and then of course eat out or on the run. Then you pack up and head out either to the next destination or home. Expenses are racking up with no definite income based on the sales or lack of sales you may have.

So what's an author to do? Well, a simple solution is to do a virtual book tour. This is done online and if you don't have a regular day job that you have to get dressed for, you could actually visit all your tour stops in your pajamas. But I wouldn't recommend it since someone told me before that if you want to feel the part, you need to dress the part. At least put on comfortable clothing just in case you need to run out during the day for that cup of coffee or you need a break.

I have hosted several tours of late and have been a poor host. That is until the recent tour on my JGDS blog with Trockle. No, I wasn't the best host for the tour but I was more active and participated in the tour more than I have other tours. Why? The difference could have been that I am writing children's books now and felt that promoting a child's book would help get my blog noticed and hopefully boost sales for me as well as the author of Trockle, or maybe it was because Vivian (my publisher) was the one putting it together and since it was a fellow author in the same publishing house I felt obligated to do a better job than previously.

Most of the other tours I have hosted have been from a professional service and it was kind of "here is the tour we are doing now and would you mine posting something on such and such day" and then it was over and done with - not much contact with the author (if any at all) nor the people putting on the tour. I felt distant, like I didn't really need to worry about anything. I would post my obligatory article, that I volunteered to do but there would be nothing in return. I didn't see much change in the hits or comments on my blog during a tour stop than before. I was a bad host. You have to stay active, authors in contact with hosts and keep things out there in the public's eye in order to have a successful tour.

I am about to host three more tours, one on the JGDS blog and two here and because of the guidelines Holly and Vivian have come up with, I believe I will be a better host and having been more active in the most recent tour doesn't hurt either.

If you are a fellow writer and want to have your book hosted, it is fine but remember to stay involved with the tour all the way to the end. Post responses on your host blogs as the comments build during the day on a particular spot. Promote yourself like crazy everywhere you have connections. Your blog should be very active during the time of your tour. Your hosts need to make sure they talk your book up during the tour as well, not just for the day they host you but all the stops you plan on making during your tour. Try to offer your hosts something. Maybe have contests and have door prizes, doesn't have to be anything that costs a lot, but offer something. Your hosts and followers will participate more if you have something to give away.

For more guidelines on what makes a good host, email me at eeldering@gmail.com and I'll share with you the list Holly and Viv have come up with and are willing to share with future hosts.

So, yes, I will host book tours and I will be a good hostess and promote your book to help you out.

2 comments:

Holly said...

You make some very good points. When I get around to writing guidelines for authors, I intend to include the part about dressing the part, even if it's only to establish your own attitude and demeanor during the tour. Good advice!

And being an active participant as a host is truly a must - you're a host (feels weird to ask someone to throw a party for you!) and that means throwing out the welcome mat and making visitors to your blog feel welcome. That's true every day, whether you're hosting or not, but during a book tour it's even more critical.

I thought you were a great host, E. I wouldn't have said yes to your offer of hosting the upcoming Trockle Trick-or-Treat tour if I hadn't thought so!

Holly Jahangiri

elysabeth said...

Holly,

I know we aren't all "professionals" and sometimes just having fun is part of what the doctor ordered. Writing for children is fun because you don't have to be all stiff and stuffy - you can let your hair down a bit and still be professional about it. I think I tend to work better if I do actually get dressed. I'm sort of seeing that in my actual work. I think it's a mindset. If I stay in my nightgown all day, I tend to be sluggish and just do the work as I can and if I get dressed, I tend to work a bit harder (not much, hahaha) but it makes a difference.

Guidelines for authors - woohooo - let me know what I can help out with - E :0