Book tours are a traditional promotional tactic for authors when launching a new book. With the COVID-19 crisis making in-person promotional events unsafe, authors have been finding creative ways to circumvent the pandemic’s challenges and interact with fans. One tactic helping them connect with readers is virtual book tours!
To help you plan and publicize your own virtual book tour events, we’ve compiled a list of strategies we’ve seen authors use when launching their virtual tours. While missing out on IRL tours might be a bummer, there are many benefits of online events beyond just saving on travel expenses. Going virtual provides greater accessibility, allowing more people to tune in than ever before and leading to great opportunities for fan engagement.
We hope the following examples provide inspiration for your book marketing and reader outreach approach when launching a new book, both during the pandemic and beyond.
1. Add the event schedule to your author website
Many authors add their complete virtual tour schedules to their author websites. Making the full schedule easy to find helps them keep their tours organized and helps readers see which events are the best fit for them — both in terms of timing and interest in topic or co-speaker.
Yamile Saied Méndez added her virtual tour schedule to the Events page of her website. She has a drop-down filter for event type so someday readers can distinguish between in-person and virtual events.
2. Post the virtual book tour schedule on social media
Announcing virtual tour stops on social media has been another popular tactic for authors promoting their book events. Various social media platforms enable writers to share their most important news directly with fans.
Jodi Picoult shared her schedule on Twitter, tagging all the authors making appearances at her events. Tagging those you collaborate with helps their names stand out to your audience and makes it easier for them to reshare your news!
Julie C. Dao announced her virtual book tour by posting her event schedule in front of a spooky graphic on Instagram.
Meg Cabot shared her virtual book tour schedule on Facebook, linking fans to register on her website. Meg’s tour included a variety of events, including a watch party for a movie based on one of her previous books!
3. Answer fans’ logistical questions
People are still getting used to the new reality of virtual events, so it can be extra helpful to answer questions fans might have about the logistics of a book tour.
V.E. Schwab answered many questions about her virtual tour in her announcement post, including those about the format, international tour dates, and more.
At in-person events, readers had the option to buy books on-site. When one reader commented on Alyssa Rosenheck’s virtual book tour announcement with a question about purchasing her new book, the author promptly responded with a helpful answer.
4. Host a virtual book club
Some authors looking for a conversational atmosphere have hosted a book club series or joined book club sessions. These events provide them the chance to interact closely with fans and hear their thoughts on their book.
Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi hosted a digital club to discuss their book on antiracism. In this series, Reynolds and Kendi engaged with a different chapter each week. These authors used Eventbrite to organize their book club.
Ruta Sepetys took part in a series of virtual book club gatherings to discuss her new novel. When people purchased the book through a participating independent bookstore, they got an exclusive discussion guide with behind-the-scenes insights, photographs, and recipes inspired by the book as well as the opportunity to talk directly with Ruta.
5. Share recaps from early tour stops to build buzz for upcoming ones
While authors might not be able to pose for photos with fans anymore, there’s still plenty they can share from virtual events. Many authors have posted fun photos and anecdotes from past appearances, which could get readers excited for upcoming tour stops.
Australian author Kate Mildenhall shared a screenshot of her speaking the night before an event, along with a picture of her customized drink, which matched her book cover!
Middle grade and YA author Aisha Saeed thanked readers on Instagram for tuning in to her virtual book tour event and let her audience know where they could buy a signed, personalized copy.
Health care reformer Rosemarie Day shared a screenshot of her first virtual book tour event. She highlighted the success of the session, declaring that it indicated “distance socializing” could work well!
6. Host a virtual party
Several authors have added festive elements to their virtual book tours to make their events more interactive and celebratory. While one can’t host in-person parties right now, digital parties let authors and their readers engage in fun conversations.
Christina Baker Kline hosted an after-party following her main book tour conversation. The event page advertised the party as an intimate chance to ask Christina “everything you always wanted to know but didn’t ask during the event.”
Former prosecutor and legal thriller writer Marcia Clark hosted a virtual happy hour to celebrate her new release. She encouraged fans to bring a drink to the discussion.
She posted a lively event photo on Instagram along with a link to the recorded event so fans could join in on the party even if they missed it the first time around.
7. Ask fellow authors to help launch your book
Many authors recruit help from other writers to interview them for their book launch events, creating an extra draw for people to tune in to virtual tour stops. Additionally, when well-known authors in conversation with newer authors share event details with their own audiences, it can help attract new fans to the newer author’s writing.
One of J. Courtney Sullivan’s book tour stops was a conversation between her and Lily King, who shared event details on her own Twitter. Accessing Lily’s audience gave additional exposure to Courtney’s new release.
8. Team up with another author to discuss both of your books
Some authors have partnered with a fellow author on virtual book tour events to market both of their books. A major perk is that a fan of one author might leave the event a fan of both authors.
9. Partner with bookstores
Virtual book tours provide a fabulous chance to support independent bookstores. Many authors have organized online events with independent bookshops and encouraged their fans to buy their books from them.
Lindsay Ellis supported independent businesses by having her virtual tour with all the bookstores she originally planned to visit. In her announcement, she expressed happiness that people from all over the world would be able to attend her online events.
Christopher Paolini planned virtual tour stops at numerous independent bookshops in the US and UK. He highlighted the involvement of these businesses in his website tour announcement, noting that his fans can see him at their “favorite bookstore” while staying safe at home.
10. Add virtual book festivals to the tour
Virtual book festivals offer a great chance for authors to get their names out there, network with fellow authors, and reach new audiences. Now that many book festivals have moved online, they’re more accessible, without prohibitive costs and travel requirements.
Tiffany D. Jackson spoke at the Salem Literary Festival as the first stop of her book tour.
This year, the Unbound Book Festival rebranded as “Housebound Unbound” because of the need to cancel in-person gatherings. Historical fiction author Alex George organized the virtual book festival and discussed his new book at one of the digital events.
11. Host an online book signing
Some authors have created virtual book signing events. Readers can watch as the author adds a personal touch to their books while listening to insights they have to share about their work.
Educational writer Danica McKellar hosted a live signing of her new math guide, during which she autographed books while chatting about STEM and learning.
Singer-songwriter Tori Amos hosted a digital book signing on Facebook Live to celebrate the release of her memoir. She answered questions as she autographed copies of her book.
12. Write out answers to fan questions
Book tour stops don’t all have to involve video! Several virtual tours have involved written-out answers to reader questions as a method for authors to engage with fans and publicize their books.
N.K. Jemisin’s publisher announced on their website that N. K.’s first digital tour stop would be answering reader questions through Goodreads’s “Ask an Author” feature.
N.K. wrote out thoughtful, personal answers to over 100 questions.
Gene Luen Yang went on an Instagram book tour as a cartoon version of himself. He discussed topics he would have delved into at in-person events and wrote out answers to fan questions, with an amusing cartoon twist.
13. Post book tour videos on YouTube
Some authors have posted one-off book events or a full tour series on YouTube. Some benefits of this approach are that YouTube content stays on your channel so fans can tune in anytime, you can monetize these videos if you have a sizable following, and all tour videos can be in one easily accessible location.
Jenna Moreci streamed live on YouTube and answered fan questions about her book series and writing tips.
Cookbook author Gaz Oakley gave YouTube viewers a look into his new vegan cookbook.
To help his fans navigate the video, he included timestamps for different topics in the comments section.
Science writer and historian Amy Shira Teitel posted a series of virtual book tour events on her YouTube channel. Each video had a different discussion topic, such as this one covering details that didn’t make it into her book.
14. Thank fans for participating
Thanking those who came to your virtual book tour stops is a fantastic way to show appreciation to fans. Many authors have expressed gratitude at different points in their virtual book tours.
The band Tenacious D went on a virtual book tour for their new graphic novel. At the conclusion of their tour, they posted a fun compilation of digital meet-and-greet moments to their YouTube channel.
Sarah Henning warmly responded to numerous fan comments, expressing her happiness at their participation in her virtual events.
What other ways have you seen authors promoting their books virtually? Let us know in the comments below!
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