Sunday, May 19, 2013

Are Virtual Blog Tours Worth the Money?



Like many authors, I'm constantly searching the web for new opportunities to promote my audio books. I decided to try something called a virtual book tour. I found several companies who offer these tours, most of them at a very low cost.

The first thing I discovered is that it was my responsibility to provide content to the websites that signed up for the tour. This entailed me composing five lengthy blog pieces on subjects not necessarily related to my audio book. In addition, I was required to fill out a Q & A form that had twenty items. Although this was a lot of wok on my part for a service that I was paying for, I do understand the need for blog owners to pick and choose what they put on their websites.

For the sake of comparison, I booked virtual book tours with two different companies. I was treated differently by both groups, but ended up with pretty much the same results. The first company was headed up by a woman who obviously books a lot of tours. I was attracted to her company for this very reason. Sadly, I came to realize that while my audio book was indeed listed on several websites, most of them were just places to “shelve” information. Several of these sites appeared to be run by the same person and didn't even offer contact information or ways to comment on the content. This tour required me to mail 10 copies of my audio book to the owner which would have been alright except that I don't think she shared any of my products with blog reviewers or readers. Adding insult to injury, the owner of the tour company dealt with me in a very impatient manner which bordered on rude.

The second company I tried was run by a wonderful lady who appeared to be genuinely interested in helping me spread the word about my audio books. The websites my information was posted on appeared to be hosted by actual bloggers. Sadly, though, I didn't receive any feedback from anyone even after numerous postings over a one month period.

I never know who will stumble across my content on the web, but I'm fairly certain the virtual book tours did little to help me promote my audio books. My advice to any author who goes this route is to look at the blogs they will be posted on before they book the tour. If the blogs appear to be generic or even run by the same person, it's probably not going to increase your visibility on the web. Bottom line: it's probably better to find blogs that relate to your subject and contact them individually to ask for a review.   

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