This is an excerpt of Kathryn Trueblood’s Q&A in Everyday Book Marketing, in which she talks about virtual book tours, a.k.a. blog tours. For more book promo information, and to read Kate’s complete Q&A, check out Everyday Book Marketing.
Kathryn Trueblood’s most recent novel is The Baby Lottery, a Book Sense Pick in 2007. Other awards include the Goldenberg Prize for Fiction, judged by Jane Smiley, and the Red Hen Press Short Story Award. Her stories and articles have been published in Poets & Writers, The Bellevue Literary Review, The Los Angeles Review, The Seattle Review, Glimmer Train, and Zyzzyva, among others. She is an associate professor of English at Western Washington University.
Q: How do you get ready for a blog tour?
A: The first thing you want to do is find the constellation or neighborhood you belong to on the Internet. This is a form of market research. In the words of the great poet Robert Frost in “The Road Not Taken,” “way leads on to way,” and nowhere is that more true than the Internet. So if it means you start at Powells.com or Amazon.com looking for titles similar to yours or writers you especially like, that’s fine. The next step is visiting the websites of these other titles and authors. I’d also advise going to the New York Times archive and putting in your subject + blogs because the top blogs often get written up.
What you’re looking for is what I call “a matrix blog”—in other words, a site that links to a large collection of blogs. When my book came out in 2007, Joan Blades, the co-founder of MoveOn.org, was publicizing a book and documentary film titled The Motherhood Manifesto that became the catalyst for a political movement called MomsRising.org, which is dedicated to lobbying for the rights of working women and families on Capitol Hill. Since I believed my novel, The Baby Lottery, would appeal to politically conscious working women, this was an ideal matrix site. It contained a huge list of blogs I could link to from the site. This was what I needed to get going.
After that, I got obsessed. As far as I can tell, that’s what research on the Internet means: getting obsessed! I spent some very absorbing hours visiting the blogs and websites listed on the MomsRising.org page, and from those blogs, I found other blogrolls, and I could also see which blogs came up repeatedly, i.e., had high visibility. I started making lists, and I found that tiered lists were helpful: my first choices, my second choices, etc.
Another thing you’ll want to be sure you have on your website is a downloadable press kit. This means that any blog writer reviewing your book or interviewing you has immediate access to the publicity materials they might need—they don’t have to e-mail and request them, and you don’t have to e-mail back and send them. My downloadable press kit included a press release, a background to the book article, an author’s bio in several lengths (long, short, and shortest), and most importantly, PDF files for my book cover plus an author photo. Having a downloadable press kit on your website shows that you’re professional and ready to go. Blog writers were able to grab what they needed, and it meant that my book cover appeared every time someone reviewed the book on their blog, sometimes even the cover for my first book as well.
Q: What is the best way for an author to approach a blogger who might be a good fit for a tour stop?
A: Send a short query letter, accompanied by your web release. Whether your book is fiction or nonfiction, you need to figure out the angle of social relevance that your book offers and articulate it. Why is this a topic that needs to be part of the cultural conversation or that enlarges a conversation already taking place? That’s your pitch, and it belongs in your query letter. If the book serves a niche audience, you need to make a strong case about what your book offers that others do not.
To read Kate’s complete Q&A, check out Everyday Book Marketing.