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Virtual Book/Product Tours
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What is a Virtual Book/Product
Any time an author gets to talk about his or her
book without being physically present, but doing it via phone or webcast, can be considered a “virtual book
An author can or
more podcasts, for instance, and that can be considered a “virtual book tour.”
A radio blitz campaign can be considered a
virtual book tour. Some PR companies set these up for authors, often at launch time, when the book first comes
out. The idea is to hit as many places as possible in a short period of time to create
A similar thing can be done with blogs—authors
writing about their books on other people's blogs.
Note: I add the word "product" here as well, because this does not just work
for a physical, print book. Nowadays, your message can be delivered in an audio course, an ebook, an ongoing
online course in which you get lessons at regular time intervals, a teleseminar event, etc. So when I say
"book," it also applies to any information product.
The Ask Campaign Teleseminar VBT
There is another kind of “virtual book tour” that
was created by . This is a specific kind of campaign in which an “ask the author” page is set up on a web
site, the author is interviewed by a host who asks the submitted questions on a live teleseminar, and the
book is offered for sale (sometimes with extra bonuses). People have to sign up and ask a question to gain
access to the live call and/or recording that is usually made available afterward.
The beauty of this latter kind of VBT, from an
author’s point of view, is that not only are you selling books–you are able to gather names so that you can
begin a relationship with your readers. In most other kinds of “virtual book tours,” such as radio interviews,
the author just explains the book, the listener buys the book (or not), but still there is no way to start an
ongoing relationship with readers.
Of course, if the author is smart, on the podcast
or radio interview or blog vbt, he or she will have some kind of free offer so that the all-important
relationship with the reader–or prospective reader–can begin.
This teleseminar Ask campaign is the kind of
Virtual Book Tour that will be described henceforth.
What will a VBT do for an author and/or publisher?
- Save time and money compared to a physical book tour. A Virtual Book Tour is much less expensive to set up than an in-person appearance.
Unless an author is already a best-selling author, bookstore signings do not engender many sales. In-person
signings also cost time and money for transportation, lodging, food, etc. The only costs for a VBT is the
one-time fee for setting up the site and doing the actual tour.
- A VBT is not a one-time event, but a perpetual marketing
system. Once it's done, a VBT need only be promoted
in order to sell books. Most promotion methods cost little to nothing, and are extremely
- A VBT begins a relationship with readers/potential
readers. This is one of the key advantages. When a
person signs up, the author has the email address and can begin building a relationship. This benefits both
the author and the reader. Enables reader to feel connected to author, and author to continue to promote
other books/products to reader. Also, if the subject matter is something that needs updating, this is a way
to keep the reader in touch with the latest information.
- A VBT caters to today's time-starved society. It can be listened to any time, any place (recording is downloadable). This means
the author gets added exposure.
- The VBT engenders a sense of intimacy between author and
reader/listener. Roy Williams, "the wizard of
ads," said, "If you want to persuade the world, use the human voice." When a reader hears the author
explain his or her book, there is a greater feeling of closeness to the author.
- The VBT fosters word of mouth. It's been said this is the Age of Recommendation. Visitors get to refer friends to
the page, forward emails, etc. If they listen and like what they hear, and/or buy the book and love it,
they're likely to tell their friends. The VBT replay page is a natural place where people can send
friends. This does in fact work; here's a quote from someone (Ann), who attended
the Dinesh D'Souza VBT and returned to the Ask page: "I just want
to hear again. Thank you very much--I've been sharing the info
- Uses the tried and true "sample before you buy"
principle. By talking about his/her book, the
author gives people a good taste of what's inside. If the host and author do their jobs, people will be
very motivated to buy at least one copy. The VBT urges them to buy more than one—one for themselves, one
for a loved one at least. The interview gives compelling reasons for people to get and read the book, yet
in a natural way (again, in the spirit of recommendation).
- It's a no-pressure way to promote the book for the author. It's easy to say, in an email, in
person, or other ways, "You can go here to listen to an interview in which I talk about what's in the
book." People like to be invited; here's something an author can invite someone
- The Ask approach keeps an author in touch with what his or her audience thinks and
wants. This can be invaluable for knowing how to
market, as well as a rich source of ideas for future books (e.g., 101 most-asked questions about [topic]).
The VBT helps eliminate much of the guesswork authors and publishers previously labored under, in terms of
testing whether a concept actually has an interested market.
- The author gets access to the questions people ask. After the VBT, and periodically after that, the author will be sent the database
that includes the questions people ask and the names/email addresses. In this way they can stay in touch
with what their market wants, continue to interact with them, and build a growing list of people to whom
they can promote other products. This in ongoing market research that is priceless!
- The author can leverage the interview with the media. The VBT replay becomes an example of how the author shines when being interviewed
and can be put on the media page of the web site/blog. In addition, the author can continually glean
questions from the Ask page, and emphasize to the media that there is interest in the topic by mentioning
how many questions were asked to date.
How does an Ask VBT work?
here to print out a copy of the VBT Flow
Chart to refer to as you read on.
You can also . (15 minutes 32 seconds)
A special page, called the Ask Page, is set up that contains certain specific elements. There is a photo of the author, and an audio of the author welcoming the visitor
to the page and inviting them to answer the question, "What is your most important question about [promise of
the book]?" Underneath the question on the web page is a box
in which the visitor types in the question. Then they fill out their first name and email
Purpose of this
page: Mentions the promise of the book, captures email
addresses to build a targeted list, asks for content (keeps author in touch with audience), and may offer
bonus gift(s) in exchange for email address.
When visitors submit a question, they are sent to
Page, which again has author photo and audio asking if this is the
exact way they want to word the question. Purpose of this page: Confirms the "promise" of the book, distills the
"content," maintains dialogue with customer, and amplifies rapport (mirroring is a classic communication
After visitors either change or affirm their
question, the next page is the Thanks Page. The audio and photo usually feature the
interviewer (host) on this page. Here the dial-in information is given (for a live event),
gift is delivered (if applicable), they are invited to buy the book, and referrals are encouraged via a Tell-a-Friend
The above process takes the visitor 1-3 minutes
The Ask Page is the page that is promoted before
the live event, in whatever way possible: emails to lists, press releases, direct mail, the author's own
Phase 2: The Live
The live event usually takes place in the evening (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday are best). The
call is 60 minutes long. The host interviews the author, asking some key setup questions, and then the most
frequently-asked questions from those who signed up. The host may also interview the author on key ideas, giving
page number or chapter, to spark interest in the book. Much content is delivered, but of course the goal is to
whet the appetites of listeners to buy the book. There is a tested and proven format for doing this interview
that includes three Calls to Action (to buy the book) at set times during the interview. The interviewer is
usually the one to urge people to buy the book, and the place to buy it is mentioned very explicitly. The host
may also tell people how to call in with a testimonial, if appropriate.
Shortly after the live event,
page replaces the former Ask Thanks page. Emails are sent out to
all who signed up, plus a promotion to other lists, telling people about the event and how they can listen to
the replay if they missed it.
On this page, the replay is offered, the bonus gift(s) delivered, request is made for people
to buy the
product—preferably more than one—and referrals are
encouraged through a Tell-a-Friend form.
Phase 3: Post Live Event
A new Ask Page is set up, slightly different from
the pre-live event. This page explains the promise, asks again for content (the
question), offers bonus gift(s). The only difference is that when visitors ask their question, and confirm it on
the Mirror page, they are sent to the Replay page, where they get to hear the recording and download the bonus,
if any is offered.
This is what sets this VBT approach apart from
anything else. This kind of Virtual Book Tour is not a one-time
event, but a perpetual marketing system that works 24/7 to promote and sell the book. The author can continue to
promote the Replay page via any number of vehicles.
Here's a partial list: the back of a business
card; online articles submitted to ezine directories with a resource box pointing to the Post-Ask page; press
releases; blogs; Squidoo lenses; social network sites; other teleseminars done by author or affiliates; authors
web sites/blogs; public speaking; package inserts; book "starbursts" (VBT recording offered as bonus gift upon
purchase); podcasts; author's email signature files. Note how many of these are no-cost promotion
avenues! See below for some results of Diane's
promotion of a VBT using only these free means.
Where can I see some examples of how this works? What were some
Virtual Book Tours:
campaign for , which became a #1 amazon.com best seller in 8
categories since June 2010, including General Books. Ask campaign set up before specific date.)
(Virtual Product Tour for DVD set. As of 5/25/10, in post-Ask phase. Great
attendance--43% attendance when average is 25-30%.)
(Example of a VBT with
book and product, free chapter giveaway, link to site with coupon code. Started almost from scratch, got almost
200 signups, 35% attended live. Now in post-event stage.)
(Example of limited time offer of free audio
book with or without purchase of the book. Nearly 100% of attendees responded either by buying the book or
downloading the audio. List continued to build by 81% with no extra publicity--just the "viral loop" of
the tell-a-friend feature on the replay page. Overall response in replay stage: 33%--phenomenal in direct
pre-event stage. Unfortunately, Billy Joe Dougherty passed away suddenly before the event could be completed.
Somehow, with no publicity but Diane's own methods--outlined in the post-VBT training every client gets--176
people signed up for the event and people are buying the book!)
(Example of two authors
(Virtual Book Tour with best-selling author
Dinesh D'Souza on , November 18, 2008. More
than 800 questions submitted. Now in Post-Ask phase 3.)
(Virtual Book Tour
on with Nancy Ortberg, done for the
publisher, Tyndale House Publishers. Took place on March
18, 2008; currently in Post-Ask phase 3.)
Book Tour on with authors Frank Viola and George Barna,
done for the publisher, Tyndale House Publishers. Took place on October 28, 2008; currently in Post-Ask
phase 3. Still getting signups, two years later.)
on by Mark Levine. Currently in Post-Ask phase
Eble's VBT for Abundant Gifts—124 books sold in 6 days. List still growing, sales still coming in. This is now
in the "Post-Ask" phase 3.)
(Example of Ask campaign with set
date & AskThanks page. Note that this is an ongoing campaign; depending on when you look at it, it might
be in the replay phase.)
(Example of an interview that sells both
a book and a service. See the replay page.)
(Example of Post-Ask page with two authors. This was done quite awhile ago and is an example
of an "evergreen" promotion to sell the book and build a list.)
(This one is
interesting--it's an example of a post-Ask page, once the VBT is done, that gives access to a
podcast and get free chapters, and asks for an email address to build a list.)
(Another example of how to do a post-ask page and replay--all on same page. Sold CD program,
not book. Note, this does not use the web page design Diane uses.)
Many best-selling authors, such as Mark Victor
Hansen, Jack Canfield, Michael Gerber, Seth Godin, Tim Ferris and others use this to sell their
Does this work only for promoting books?
No! The beauty of this system is it can work for
any product or even service. See above sample links, especially , which
sold a service, and , which was for a DVD
What about fiction—will this work?
It depends on whether the author and/or publisher
have a list to promote to. If they do, then a VBT could work for fiction as well. For instance, if the publisher
has a newsletter they send out to people who are interested in fiction, they could promote the VBT in that way.
In fact, it could be a regular feature of the newsletter, with snippets from the interview or even a short,
pre-interview audio that people can listen to right away, then sign up for the VBT. In the same way, a
newsletter can promote a podcast.
The issue with fiction is that there's usually
not a "hook," a felt need that would get the reader to feel compelled to listen to the author interview.
However, a VBT can work for a popular author who is promoting a new book to the current list. There are also
creative ways to team up with nonfiction "experts" to talk about a subject the novel
Incidentally, the author and publisher could
cross-promote each other, i.e. those who sign up for the VBT could be offered the publisher's
VBTs would probably not work well for children's
books or poetry.
When is the best time to do a VBT in terms of the book's
Again, one of the beauties of this is that you
can do a VBT at any point in the publication process—even when a book is going out of print, as Diane did for
One can do a
VBT for an ebook version before the print book comes out, another for
the hardcover edition (if there is one), and another for the softcover edition. However, even if the book has
been out for a while, a VBT will give the book new life. The main requirement is that there be some way to
promote the VBT, before and after. If the author does not have a list, we can work with him/her to build that
"platform" first. Then, the VBT itself becomes an effective way to continue to build a list.
What does a VBT entail for the author (and/or
When you hire Words to Profit to do your VBT, we
set up the whole system for you: all the Web pages involved, before, during, and after. We host it on our
server, so you don't have to worry about that or any other technical aspect.
We send the author the scripts to record each
audio (Ask page, Mirror page, and Post-Ask page). All authors have to do is call the number they will be given
and record their message from the script. The host will go over the questions shortly before the live event,
either the day before or the day of the event. The host will also then send the author the script for the
interview. The only other thing the author has to do is show up on the evening of the VBT for the
60-minute interview. He or she does need to make sure of calling from a quiet place, and use
a land-line .
The author/publisher is also responsible for
providing a photo of the author and any needed links (e.g. to the order page or to any bonuses
We even send you suggested email copy and a
timing schedule for sending out pre- and post-VBT promotions. For an added fee, we will write and distribute
press releases online. We can also give a suggested list of appropriate social network sites and blogs on which
to promote the VBT, as appropriate.
You will also receive the database containing the
questions and the names and email addresses of those who submit questions. We will periodically send you the
updates, and can sort the results for you by, for example, most frequently asked keyword phrases. (Note: We will
also send guidelines as to the use of this list. Please abide by them, so as not to unintentionally alienate
those who asked a question and cause possible legal repercussions.)
After the VBT, the author/publisher is urged to
maximize the potential of the VBT by promoting it in as many ways as
possible. Every client gets a copy of the document, "What
to Do After the VBT to Promote Your Book and Build Your List,"
which outlines 26 strategies for making the most of the post-Ask phase.
We also offer a post-VBT promotional package designed to promote
the Ask page. We provide personalized training in how to create "multiple presences on the Web" in ways that fit
the author's natural strengths and abilities. (For instance, if they love to write, they can concentrate on blogs
and ezine articles, both proven effective in driving targeted traffic to sites. If they prefer to speak, podcasting
and teleseminars would be ideal. Words to Profit coaches can train them on the extremely cost-effective ways to set
What qualifies you to do these Virtual Book Tours?
Diane Eble has received intensive, personal
training from Alex Mandossian, the creator of the Ask-type VBT, and from those who created the supporting
structures of the Ask VBT (such as the Ask Database). She is on Alex's private list of preferred vendors as an
Interview Expert and part of the VBT faculty.
Diane is currently a book publishing
coach/consultant who helps people find the best ways to publish and promote their book or other information
product so that they are "well heard and well paid for what they know and love to do."
Diane has been interviewing authors in one
way or another since 1978, first for the InterAction radio program (which would nowadays be called a podcast)
with InterVarsity Press, and then for 13 years as the editor of Tyndale's PageTurner's Journal/Fiction First
(print and online newsletters). She published a book based on her interviews,
called Behind the Stories: Christian Novelists Reveal the Heart
in the Art of Their Writing (Bethany, 2002).
Diane's interviewing skills are acclaimed by
those who know how to spot a good interviewer. Alex Mandossian, who himself has interviewed hundreds of authors,
told her after she :
"You are a great interviewer!
Here's what Cecil
Murphey, coauthor of the best-selling , wrote to Diane after she interviewed him for
"Thanks so much for the highly professional interview. You handled it
so well it's easy to realize why you do this: You’re good at it. You asked good questions and you didn't jump in
before I finished answering them. It was fun ... such an easy half hour."
And here's what Nancy Ortberg said after
"It was a fun
conversation because of the pre-work you did. You knew what questions to ask, where things were in the book, and
actually knew what was in the book! That makes such a difference, thank you again for a great
Diane is an author herself (11 books and more
than 500 articles) who has studied effective online marketing (including copywriting) for the past four years.
She has hosted several of the new Ask-type VBTs, and she set up her own , from which she got 117 signups and sold 124 books in less
than a week. Note: these figures come from a promotion to a list of only 600 people, proving one does not
have to have a large list, just a targeted one.
As mentioned, Diane will help authors and publishers not only
set up and do Virtual Book Tours, but promote them to the max utilizing the "many Internet appearances" strategies
that have proven successful for her own business and those of her clients. She is also available for
additional coaching in this area, should the author or publisher choose to avail themselves of the additional
What do I do if I want to set up a VBT with Words to
Call Diane at 630-665-0843 (if no answer:
630-779-2718) to discuss the particulars of your situation. We can customize your package depending on what pre-
and/or post-VBT promotional elements you may want to do.
We usually need at least 4-6 weeks lead time to
maximize the exposure, set things up, and schedule your VBT at the best time.