A traditional media tour is a tool used to promote books. It involves a promotional blitz by authors and their publishers to reach readers. This kind of tour includes in-person radio and TV interviews, and bookstore appearances in big chains and independents. It also includes interviews by reporters from local papers. Authors often travel to numerous cities. These tours usually coincide with large conferences including BookExpo America (BEA) and the American Library Association’s yearly conferences. These events bring large numbers of book-o-philes to one place at one time and provide built-in audiences for traveling authors. Authors with regional books may take abbreviated tours of specific areas. Most traditional media tours are planned by publishers’ publicity departments or by companies specializing in media tours. If you self published and don’t have a traditional publisher assisting with publicity remember that you can hire publicity companies to assist you in setting up this kind of activity. There are even publicity firms out there that specialize in helping authors and other creative individuals.
The nuts and bolts of a tour work like this: a tour lasts one or two weeks with multiple scheduled appearances per day. A driver picks up the author and takes her to her hotel or to her first media appearance, depending on the schedule. Tour stops will often involve hours of driving and events that last 30 to 45 minutes. A savvy author will utilize social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and blogs to enhance the media tour. She will be tweeting about the beauty of the city she is visiting and the great hospitality she has received during the trip. She will never complain. Even though a book tour is a very tiring activity, it is gravy for an author, and a time to celebrate success. A gracious and thankful author will get more tours; complaining will turn off interviewers and bookstores. The author will seem petty, even if some of the events were not well attended, and even when some of the events were not well planned… a wise author keeps it all upbeat.
Traditional media tours offer value to authors. First, it gets the word out there about the book. Getting an author press in local media reaches untapped readers. A tour stirs up a lot of press at one time. This sort of frenzy gets people interested and creates a groundswell of support. It can turn a book into a meme. News of a book spreads like wildfire. A tour can help facilitate propagation of a book to many readers who will hopefully propel that book onto bestseller lists. A tour provides a personal connection between an author and her readership. Readers like to know the story behind books. They like to feel they know who wrote the book they love. They enjoy having a book signed by a beloved author. They are likely to buy a signed book for special friends. All this book buying spreads knowledge of the author’s work.
Traditional media tours are costly enterprises and often need underwriting from corporate sponsors and publishers. Their effectiveness has diminished in this age of Internet connectivity and publishing companies diminishing budgets, but they still have a place in the author’s promotion toolbox. However, if the traditional path isn’t for you or isn’t an option with your budget… or even if it’s just one part of what you’d like to do for publicity…. check out another article, “Media Tours: An Overview for Newbies”, “How do you organize a traditional media blitz in your hometown?”, and “Media Tour_ What is a virtual media tour exactly?” here on the Author Learning Center. It includes other options and some great ideas for book events and venues.
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