Virtual Book Tours: What NOT to do

Virtual book tours can be a great way to help spread the word about your books. They do need to be done right though or you could end up wasting your time and even damaging your author brand.

Search engines like fresh, unique, content. Readers like fresh, unique content. Bloggers like fresh, unique content. So we're all agreed then. We all want fresh, unique content. So why is it that authors doing virtual book tours often send out the same information to all/ most of their hosts? 

We've all seen those virtual book tours that "blast" your book on numerous sites. Maybe you've even done one yourself. Copy and paste posts with your cover, book blurb, links, and maybe an author bio, are easy content for you and your host. It doesn't involve much time or effort for either of you. What you need to ask yourself though is "what is it actually doing for me and my book sales?"

A blog that posts the exact same content as other sites will be damaging their ranking with Google and other search engines. Search engine providers want to provide customers with a varied group of results, not 10 or 100 pages all with exactly the same content. You can find out more about duplicate content penalty here) Host sites like Blogger and Wordpress both dislike this "copy posting" method are are cracking down on blogger that post duplicated content. Many blogs have been suspended or even blocked permanently for this reason. Not good for the blogger.

This video by Google talks about their take on guest blogging:

Authors that do these duplicated posts are offering nothing new to readers. Whilst you might argue that each site will have its own audience (which is of course true), readers who happen to see the same post on different blogs will associate that author with spam. Not a good thing for your author brand.

A virtual book tour is about spreading the word about your book but it's also much more than that. It's about growing your fan base, strengthening your author brand, and building your reputation within your niche. (You can find out more about virtual book tours and how to carry out a successful one in my book Virtual Book Tours: Effective Online Book Promotion From the Comfort of Your Own Home).

Spotlight features are great but they need to be personalised where possible to keep them fresh. Guest posts should be unique to a singular site. Interviews should be as original as possible... even when answering the same questions. 

When I do a virtual book tour, I always include some sample questions and answers in my media kit. I try to include a variety. Some about my book, some about my writing process, some more personal "get to know the author" ones. Hosts can then do copy and paste but pick and mix so it's not the exact same interview others have posted. I also provide various images to help make each post different from the others. 

By making my media kit as complete as possible I know I'm offering more material than can fit into one blog post. This means that even the few hosts that want to copy and paste, without putting their personal spin on the post, have a wide choice of material to pick from and lowers the chances of them posting the exact same content as another site.

You can, of course, re-purpose content and therefore get more mileage out of it. Create an infographic or record a video based on an article you wrote for another site. Develop one of your interview answers into a guest post in its own right. 

Virtual book tours are a lot of work. They require time and effort. If you're not prepared to put in that time and effort it really isn't worth you doing one as you won't get the results you're after. 

If you don't have the time to put together a big virtual book tour, try a smaller one instead. It's much better to have a week of fresh, unique content, on targeted sites, than to pump out a month load of duplicated content that doesn't nothing to build a connection with potential readers and fans. 



  1. Excellent advice! I'll admit I had to learn the hard way about trying to make sure the content was all different in some way for virtual tours. I actually prefer not to do as many spotlights because of the duplicate content issues.

    1. Spotlights are good fillers for a virtual book tour but are much less effective than other types of posts. Finding a way to make them unique isn't the most simple of tasks, because at the end of the day the information is what it is. Limiting the number of spotlight features and creating a different format for each one can help.


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