Guest post: Why Online Marketing is important for Authors

By Lori Culwell

By Jo Linsdell

virtualbooktoursJo Linsdell is  a best selling author and illustrator and internationally recognized marketing expert. She is also the founder and organizer of the annual online event “Promo Day” (www.PromoDay.info) and the Writers and Authors blog (http://WritersAndAuthors.blogspot.com). Her latest release Virtual Book Tours: Effective Online Book Promotion From the Comfort of Your Own Home is now available from Amazon. Find out more about her at her website www.JoLinsdell.com

In the past, book promotion involved authors traveling around to do in-person book signings and readings in bookstores. It was generally only the big name authors that would make it onto TV or radio for interviews or guest segments. To even get a look in, you needed to have an agent and be with a traditional publishing house. It was costly, time consuming, and only for the select few.

Since then the publishing industry has under gone a revolution and with it the process of marketing books. The birth of ebooks and the increasing use of the internet (and the continuous growth of smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices), has made books and book promotion accessible to everyone. Competition is tough though. There’s a lot of books out there and more being published by the minute. You need to make sure your book stands out from the crowd.

So what methods can authors use to optimize their online marketing efforts? One popular strategy is to do a virtual book tour. This basically involves being hosted on various websites, blogs, and social media platforms over a set period of time to promote your book.

The benefits of doing a virtual book tour are numerous. A virtual book tour helps create a buzz about your book and strengthens your author brand. Depending on the type of tour you carry out, it can also help you collect more reviews and even reach best seller status.

From a personal point of view, I’ve done several successful virtual book tours for my own books and each one has resulted in the books reaching best seller status in at least one category (just to clarify, that’s in both the free and paid lists). With each tour I’ve also gained new followers on all of my social media sites and seen an increase in reviews. As I tend to do tours with a mixture of stop types I have plenty of opportunities to engage my target audience in conversation. Sometimes it’s an interview. Sometimes it’s a guest post. I also do a lot of social media chats and take part in internet radio shows and video chats via Google hangouts. For me, virtual book tours have been the most effective marketing strategy I’ve used.

People can’t buy your book if they don’t know it exists. A virtual book tour puts it on the virtual map and, if done correctly, in front of your target readers. It starts a snowball effect to get people talking about your book. It can also do wonders for kick starting Amazon’s algorithm so that they promote your book to potential readers too. Not to mention, increasing your rankings on Google.

The results you get will of course depend on the goals you set for your tour, the sites you get hosted on, and the effort you put into the promotion of (and engagement on) each stop. Like most things, you need to work it to make it work.

Have you had success through virtual book tours? What has been your most effective marketing strategy so far?

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