Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Virtual Book Tour

The older I get, the more I experience the science fiction of my childhood. The latest occurrence of this was the virtual book tour I participated in last month.

Traditionally (meaning: in reality), an author travels from bookstore to bookstore to meet readers, promote his work, and sign books. There's nothing like interacting with your audience face-to-face, right? But in today's world of Facebook and Twitter and online dating, just how much face-time do we ever actually engage in? From the dozens of tweets I get everyday, I know more about people I've never met or seen than I do about the woman I run in to at the mailbox each afternoon. For all I know there's a computer in a warehouse somewhere posting algorithm-induced messages, and none of those so-called "followers" actually exist! (Hmm...Story idea?)

I know I'm not saying anything new here. Social media's degeneration of human relationships, "cat fishing," the 2002 Pacino film Simone or the more recent Her, blah, blah, blah. It's all old news. (Okay, scratch that story idea.) And should we add the concept of virtually taking a book tour into the mix?

Over the course of a month, twenty-six literary blog sites generously sponsored my book. Some posted interview questions which I answered via email, or I was asked to submit a guest post of a topic of my choosing. A few even reviewed my book. (Favorable, flattering, and greatly appreciated reviews, I might add.) I connected with countless readers around the world and, in turn, they learned a little about me and my writing, all from the comfort of my home.

Or not.

The tour generated a few sales, and I gained two more followers on Twitter and Facebook. Otherwise, there was no feedback. I can't honestly say how many people visited those blog sites. It was more like running an ad in a magazine or on a random cable network. For all I know, thousands viewed my postings, but my lack of notoriety, marketing skills or something couldn't engage an audience. In the end, my virtual tour was exactly that: virtual.

Would I do it again? Yes. It's yet another way to present my work to the public. And even though the tour is officially done, my book and pertinent information can still be viewed on those sites. Building a readership via word-of-mouth takes time. All I can do is continue to put myself out there, keep writing my next novel, and the next, and eventually those readers, my audience, will become very real.

(Oh, man...what the hell will I do then?)