Sunday, February 5, 2012

Plan a Book Tour: Attract Followers

Plan a Book Tour: Attract Followers
By Karen Cioffi

Your book will be released soon and you decided to have a virtual booktour, and you decided to do it yourself. You did some research and took the necessary steps to garner hosts for the tour stops. And, each host knows what will be presented on his site: an interview, or a review, or an informational article.

You also created a Word doc or spreadsheet with the schedule and details.

Now you want to take it up a notch to ensure readers will be motivated to follow your booktour, actually comment, and hopefully buy your book.

Offer Book Tour Prizes

While there are some readers who are interested in learning about new books, for the majority of readers you will want to offer an ‘ethical bribe’ to follow along on your booktour.

An ‘ethical bribe’ is a freebie, gift, or prize that you will offer to entice readers to follow along, and just as important, to comment, and most important, to buy your book.

There are a number of prizes you can use: books (not the one you are promoting though, the chance of winning a book will discourage readers from buying the book), gift cards (to Amazon, Target, etc), informational e-books, or items related to your story. If your book is about a child wanting to learn how to fly, you might have a toy plane or puzzle as a prize.

For my middle-grade virtual booktour I choose two $10 Amazon gift cards – they can be purchased and emailed directly to the winners. I also offered three copies of a 100+ page ‘writing for children’ e-book, and four copies of another e-book. So, you can see the gift can be of value, but doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive.

It’s also advisable to make your prizes enticing to the market and reader you’re aiming at. If you’re promoting a children’s book, your marketing efforts should be aimed at parents, grandparents, teachers, school librarians, etc. So, offering gifts that kids will appreciate or are helpful to the potential purchaser in some way will be beneficial.

Just remember that for merchandise (physical gifts) you will need to mail them to the winners. This will be an added expense. Gift cards on the other hand can be purchased and emailed directly to the winners. So, take this into consideration when deciding on the prizes.

Spread the Word About Your Book Tour Prizes

Be sure to add information about the prizes in your promotional content, your tour schedule, and in your press release. Explain that the winners will be chosen randomly and will be emailed within a week or two after the tour ends.

Usually, the prizes are given randomly at the end of the tour to those who comment on the tour stops. Create a Word doc or spreadsheet to keep track of their names and the stop they commented on. This will help you later when you have to pick the winners and contact them.

You can also choose to have prizes awarded at certain intervals throughout the tour, or even on a daily basis. It’s your tour, your rules.

Make Your Book Tour Unique

Author Kathy Stemke planned an amazing booktour. She promoted her newly released children’s picture book, Sh Sh Sh Let the Baby Sleep in June of 2011 and added interesting and fun contests with ‘add your input’ questions that amused and engaged the visitor/reader.

This marketing strategy was successful in bringing traffic to the tour stops and having a good number of comments, not only on the tour stop sites, but on the social media and group sites she promoted them to.

So, check out other tours, read articles about virtual booktours . . . do your research. Be sure to think it through and plan it out carefully, so you too can have a unique and engaging tour.

Learn about writing and marketing with Karen Cioffi at Sign up for her free newsletter, A Writer’s World, and get TWO free site-related e-books for subscribing, and ONE more just for stopping by.


  1. I need to have a book tour for Pony Strings & Critter Things. I can think of lots of fun prizes for that one.

  2. We can use this newsletter, and I'd host a stop on my personal blog if you wish.

  3. Great article, Karen. I learn new things all the time, even though I've been working in the online book promotion business for over four years now. I spent a good deal of money on the giveaways for my Little Shepherd book tour, but I wasn't thrilled with the number of comments. At some point I realized what you said here: they have to be attractive to your target market. I would do things differently the next time around.

    Thanks for sharing your wealth of experience.