Digital Book Tours: A New Frontier

March 20, 2020 by Jennifer Willcock

Write novel. Check. Market novel….?


You’ve written a novel and it’s been published! What a thrill to see that labour of love, sweat, and tears in print form. The joy and pride last a few minutes and then on the heels of excitement comes the question, what now? You want to let the whole world know about your book, but how?

I was asking these very questions as my YA adult novel, Exit Stage Right, was releasing in November 2019. A friend and fellow author told me about online book publicity tours. It’s exactly what it sounds like—a book tour on social media. It’s quite possible the book review you read on that blog or the Bookstagram you saw was part of a book publicity tour. They’re very popular and there are several companies to choose from to run your campaign. Book publicity tours consist of bloggers or social media influencers, who act as hosts for your book. They read and share reviews, cover reveals and promotion on their blogs, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and other online forums. Their followers, who generally like the same kind of books the hosts are promoting, get news of new releases and authors, which is a win for everyone.

My friend recommended justreadtours.com
and after doing my research, I hired them to promote Exit Stage Right. Since this is my debut novel, I wanted it to have as much exposure as possible and that meant getting word out beyond Canadian borders and into the US. This is when social media is our friend.

Why did I decide on JustRead Publicity Tours?
It’s a US based “full-service publicity tour company for published works in the Christian genre or books that are considered a ‘clean read’.” Exit Stage Right is a loose retelling of the prodigal and is clean which means it has no cursing, sex or graphic violence. It is a romance targeted for teens, young adults and those of us who are young in heart but may no longer be young in years. It fit JustRead Tour’s criteria for promotion. There are several companies out there so do your research. YA fiction is not promoted by every company so I had to make sure I found one that included that genre.

Most companies have all the information you need to do your homework on their website. They list their policies, terms and conditions for authors, and hosts, as well as the different kinds of campaigns they run. Read it all and then make the choice that best fits your book, budget and time frame.

JustReadTours.com do everything from cover reveal tours to blog and Instagram tours and much more. There are pages for both hosts and authors which answer a lot of questions you may have and outline your responsibilities as the author. You do not need to have a big writing contract to book a tour.

Customer service was excellent at JustRead Tours. This was my first time doing anything of this nature and Carrie, one of the co-owners of JustRead Tours, was incredibly helpful whenever I had a question. And I had lots.

How do you go about booking a campaign?
These tours are very popular so it’s important that you think ahead. Many companies book several months in advance so you can’t wait until the book is published to arrange a promotion. By the time I looked into booking a tour in the fall of 2019, all their spots had filled up until January 2020. Fortunately, this worked out for me since Exit Stage Right was going to release November 30, 2019. It was close enough to the publishing date that I decided it was still a good marketing move to draw attention to my newly released book. JustRead Tours has a form to fill out online to book a campaign and then they get in contact with you.

The only drawback I experienced was the Canadian-US exchange rate. Since most companies are US based, prices are in US currency so you’re paying the exchange rate on top of the price of the campaign. If hard copies of the book are required than the cost of shipping to the US and Canada should be taken into consideration as it can get very expensive to ship anywhere. E-books help to divert costs however, I didn’t have an e-book version that was acceptable. One more thing to research as you consider book tours. The women at JustRead Tours were extremely helpful and flexible in working out a custom tour that would fit my budget and limitations with not having an e-book. We kept the blog tour small so I only had to mail out ten copies internationally (US). My book tour consisted of twelve stops over a five-day period. So, twelve hosts spotlighted Exit Stage Right on their blogs. Some added excerpts from the book which I supplied, some did reviews and a couple did interviews with me. All included the cover of the book, the back of the book blurb, my author photo and bio.

What does a book publicity tour do for you?

Brings attention to your book!
“A successful blog or social media tour should result in more attention directed specifically toward your book.” – Carrie from JustRead Tours, Tips for a Successful Blog Tour: What Authors Need to Know

For me, that meant getting word out beyond my own sphere of influence and into the US. I was pleased that at least one of the hosts/reviewers was in my target audience of YA.

Graphics!
JustRead Tours create graphics for the hosts to use to promote the books. I really loved the graphics they used for Exit Stage Right. I felt they really captured the nuance of the book. It was also appropriate for the target age group of teens and young adults.

They do all the work!
As an author you’ve done what you do best—write! Now it’s time to leave the promotion and marketing up to the pros! YAY!

Reviews!
It’s what we all want as authors and it’s like pulling teeth to get readers to write them. As I’ve already stated, part of my tour had two reviews scheduled and another host voluntarily wrote one on their blog. The hosts also may write reviews on Amazon. Many did for which I’m grateful. Readers are more likely to write a review if others have already done so. At least we can hope.

Bookstagrams!
This was one of my favourite parts of the tours. You can book a tour made up of these fun promotions of your book. I didn’t have it in my official tour but again some of the hosts went above and beyond and posted Bookstagrams of my novel. The hosts are very creative and they really did a beautiful job of creating pretty pictures of my book!

What are the responsibilities of the author?
Carrie, in her blog, suggests reposting the hosts original posts, which I did. I shared on Facebook and reposted using the Repost App on Instagram. I used Twitter to share as well. This is one way the author can help out the hosts by opening your audience to their sites. This might seem obvious but it’s easy to forget and I read it more than once as I did my research; thank the hosts for spotlighting your book. They take time to read, create posts and write reviews so it’s a good idea to say thank you.

If you get a less than good review, take the high road and let it go. Hopefully you’ll only get good ones but as we all know, not everyone has the same tastes in books. That’s okay.

Hiring JustRead Tours was such a great experience and I wouldn’t hesitate to do so again. It was an enjoyable and exciting experience for me as an author and I believe it exposed Exit Stage Right to a much bigger audience than I could have done on my own. I also got to meet online some other book enthusiasts and hopefully have started to cultivate relationships in the book world outside my own little sphere.

If you want to read more advice from Carrie at JustRead Tours on how to have the best possible book tour check out this link:

seekerville.blogspot.com/
justreadtours.com

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About this Contributor

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Jennifer Willcock is a writer and speaker, and she’s thrilled that her English degree is finally being put to good use. Jennifer spent some of her best hours at the dance barre. She is the author of Exit Stage Right, her debut YA novel, which released in November 2019 and Whole: Hope for the Broken Pastor’s Wife, about her struggles as a pastor’s wife (2017). She lives in Ontario, Canada with her husband, two sons, and their pet dwarf rabbit, Whiskers. You can find her on:

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jenniferwillcock.com