Virtual book tours are a relatively new concept, but they have some resemblance to their traditional ancestors. Before the Internet, a common way to get the word out about a book and make some sales was to tour the city, state, or country with a pile of books and do signings at every book store that would have you–that is, if your publisher was willing to spend the money. The nice part of this was you would get the chance to meet your readers, and they would get to meet you and get the book signed. The negative was that it could cost a lot of money in travel expenses, shy authors would be overwhelmed, and sales might not warrant for the time, money, and effort involved. Virtual tours eliminate some of those problems.

What to Expect from a Virtual Book Tour

So, what is a virtual book tour? It simply means that, instead of physically driving around from place to place, the tour takes place “virtually”, or on the Internet. It usually involves “appearances” on different book blogs and websites in the form of reviews of the book, interviews with the author, and sometimes guest blog posts. This takes the place of sitting at a table in a lonely corner of a bookstore, smiling at people who avoid eye contact, or doing a reading of your book in front of an audience of three. It is much cheaper alternative to more old-fashioned ways of promoting a book.

Of course, sales are not guaranteed with a virtual tour any more than they are for the more traditional version, but virtual tours cost much less and take way less time. The author might put in an hour or two of effort answering interview questions and doing other prep work for the tour, but then their part is done and the tour provider takes over. They will coordinate the tour stops, set everything up, and promote the tour.

Advantages of Virtual Book Tours

One big advantage to virtual tours over traditional ones is longevity. Once the author leaves a bookstore after their signing, they leave little behind to let anyone know they were ever there. Books generally only stay on the shelves for a limited time before they’re replaced with something newer. When a book review or author interview appears on a website, it stays there for as long as the site is active. In many cases, that will be forever, or at least long after the author is gone. Prospective readers browsing the web can stumble upon the book’s tour stops weeks, months, or years later and decide to buy the book.

Virtual Tours Create Buzz

Virtual book tours help to create a buzz for the book and author, because there are suddenly a lot of references to them all over the Internet. With the author, their friends, the tour company, and the participating bloggers all posting links to promote each tour stop, the book and author get a lot of exposure to different people. It usually takes multiple exposures before someone decides to make a purchase, and this is a great way to promote the book over and over.

While traditional book tours have their purpose, especially for well-established authors that will draw a large crowd into every store they visit, virtual book tours have a lot of the same benefits and more, with fewer of the disadvantages. Particularly for new authors who are just starting their career and trying to make a few sales, a virtual book tour can be a good start.