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The Benefits of the Virtual Book Tour

Book signing and informal chat with Julian Dibbell, author of "Play Money"

A (literal) virtual book tour. Image Credit: Flickr - John E. Lester

The DIY book tour has become more and more popular (or should we say, necessary?) as publishers cut funding for traditional book tours and as self-publishing becomes more feasible for emerging writers.
For the author arranging his or her own publicity, the most obvious route is old-fashioned in-person bookstore visits, which we’ve discussed quite a bit here at FWR over the past year—a sign that writers increasingly need to act as their own marketers, perhaps.

But while the internet era makes life harder for writers in some ways—the increased challenges it causes for traditional publishing, for one—it also gives the writer new tools for self-publicizing. Last week, for example, Lee posted about the DIY-book-tour resource BookTour, which helps writers arrange those good old-fashioned in-store visits. And a new route has opened up for authors to promote their books without logging a single frequent-flier mile: the virtual book tour.

damn_sure_rightBack in 2009, FWR hosted debut novelist Bridget McNulty for a stop on her blog tour. More recently (as in, right now!) FWR contributor and editor of The Practicing Writer Erika Dreifus arranged a virtual book tour for her debut collection, Quiet Americans and offers some tips for planning your own tour. And in our features section, Lee has an interview with Meg Pokrass as part of Pokrass’s virtual book tour for her flash fiction collection, Damn Sure Right.

Given the economic state of publishing, the virtual book tour is an increasingly popular option for emerging writers because of its low cost. But there are huge benefits for readers as well. The book tour “stops”—usually on writing or lit blogs—are archived, meaning that interested readers can still access them months or even years in the future. And a virtual book tour lets writers express themselves in the way that is often most comfortable for them: through writing. Not all authors are performers, and in a bookstore crowded with strange faces—or worse, a bookstore that’s mostly empty—an author may feel awkward or overcome with stage fright. On virtual book tour stops, you can get to know a writer and his or her personality (eloquent, witty, passionate, quirky) a little more closely.

Check out Erika Dreifus’s and Meg Pokrass’s virtual book tour stops, and tell us: how do you think the virtual stop compares to a face-to-face bookstore visit?

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