Tuesday, June 23, 2009

What I Learned on My Virtual Book Tour by J.W. Nicklaus

I don't honestly recall when I first contacted Dorothy with questions regarding Pump Up Your Book Promotion. Frankly, that part is inconsequential to me because what I gained from her and my resulting tour has been far more important than such surface details.

One thing of importance I do recall prior to my involvement was a day in mid-February 2009; I'd received a package from my publisher. I'd waited anxiously for it for quite some time, and yet even as I held it I had a mild sense of trepidation. Gently, carefully, protectively I held her, hands encased in cotton gloves so as not to outwardly soil her skin. My eyes drank in every detail: her size, her gentle heft, her color. She is now and always will be my first. After indulging in a few profoundly quiet moments with her I knew I needed to begin planning for her future.

I'd done some research into virtual book tours and they seemed perfectly suited to a society which increasingly gets its information from online sources—myself being one of them. Why not avail myself of the innumerable, faceless users who blog, or simply read and follow blogs? The decision was a no-brainer for me. I honestly believe that I was somehow guided to Dorothy and her crew. There are other VBT entities, assuredly, but PUYBP—as I'd told Dorothy early on—provided me with something I hadn't expected, but hoped for: The Human Touch.

I learned there are people whom you may never meet that still care not just about your product or their service, but about you. These same people will go to great lengths to help you out or make things right if events go astray.

I learned there are people in the Great Cloud who, while faceless, embody all things human. They laugh, they love, they get frustrated, they rant, they suffer heartbreak and celebrate love. Perception by many blog/internet initiates seems to border on sterility and cold objectivity. In my experience the complete opposite is true. You, sitting there reading this, perhaps sipping your tea, coffee, or soda, are equally flesh-and-blood as I. The only thing sterile between us is this text, and even the words themselves carry power in their static state.

I learned that I'm never too old to make friends.

I learned that in doing a VBT the work doesn't stop when you turn in all your interviews and such . . . the fun really begins when you get to interact with the hosts and blog readers. They're the lifeblood of your tour. Go back to your host blogs, repeatedly. Do your best to interact with those folks, even offline if you can. Walk on the beach instead of using the boardwalk, know what I mean?

I learned that the coordinator's job is far more involved than I ever imagined. These people are on your side, playing to win, but they have teams in other leagues too, not just yours. They're frantic behind the scenes. But month after month they pull off small miracles with the success of each tour.

Speaking of success, I learned that it's a two-way street. I never had the expectation that one blog tour would be my ticket to fame and fortune. NEVER. It's a vehicle for getting name recognition, for getting your name to come up big and bold in the big search engines. They can do everything possible on their end to fulfill all the stops and make sure hosts are prompt, but their promotional efforts only extend just so far. You have to be an equal partner in the success of your tour. Blog about it, send e-mails about it, Twitter about it. Do everything in your power to drive people to each of your stops if you can. Believe me, if you do your part as a writer in keeping the stops interesting there will be those who follow you the whole way. And that's a lot of following, folks! If you build it, they will come.

As an author there are times I may feel like I'm an island unto myself, but I'm not blind enough to accept that as truth. On my tour I had support, guidance, and in the end—I believe—success. It wasn't my doing entirely, rather it was very much a team effort. My coordinator was the best cheerleader and coach I could have wished for. My tour is long over, but the efforts of everyone remain for anyone to search and read online. Ultimately that's the goal.

Friendships and solid business relationships are possible from keyboard-to-keyboard. I learned that both extend far beyond the boundaries of a page . . . and both are worth far more than the initial cost.

J.W. Nicklaus
Author - The Light, The Dark, and Ember Between

J.W. Nicklaus maintains his own personal space between the soul and soft machine in the arid southwest amongst the snowbirds and the Arizona Diamondbacks. After graduating with an Associate of Arts in Journalism and Photography and a B.S. in Telecommunications he’s spent the better part of twenty years experiencing life and working in trades as varied as a small advertising firm to a litigation service bureau. Born and raised in Arizona, he has been fortunate to have seen and experienced parts of this wonderful country, West coast to East.

He maintains a small website at www.avomnia.com and a blog found at avomnia.wordpress.com.

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