Thursday, November 15, 2007

Setting The Record Straight

As I imagine most authors do, I routinely Google my name to see if any new reviews of SILENCED CRY have been posted that I am not aware of. A few weeks ago, a link to the November 2007, Southern Review of Books blog http://www.anvilpub.net/november.htm mentioning my name in an articled titled: “Authors seeking publicity turn to virtual blog tours for attention” written by Noel Griese. It naturally caught my attention. The article criticized authors who conduct virtual book tours by stating: “While best-selling authors tend to regard book tours as passé and a waste of time, others less successful, desperate for attention, are turning to virtual tours of blogs as a less expensive alternative.” He made examples of two recent virtual book tours; mine and that of a fellow author friend, Marilyn Meredith. Marilyn was on of several who graciously agreed to sponsor and interview me as part of my August tour. I chose to ignore Griese’s comments and took it for what it was, his opinion.

This morning, I received a Google Alert that led me to Frank Creed’s post on http://blog.lostgenreguild.com/ referencing Mr. Greise’s comment. This time I was more than curious. After reading Creed’s blog, I wrote the following comment, but as yet, more than eight hours later, it has not yet been approved by the blog’s author.

My comment:
Since neither Mr. Griese of “The Southern Review of Books” nor Frank Creed contacted me for information, readers should know that the comments made in their blogs relative to my virtual book tour were not based on facts, but assumptions made about this author and the goals for her August virtual book tour.

This author doesn’t measure success by sales alone. Had they asked, I would have gladly told them my purpose in conducting the August virtual book tour was not increased sales, but to reach a diverse target audience and create name recognition for myself and my novel, SILENCED CRY (released on April 23, 2007 by BeWrite Books, UK). Griese didn’t measure the response from readers, the increased traffic to my website, or list a summary of the reviews; all these things would have given his readers an opportunity to reach their own conclusions, but they were conveniently omitted from his “study.” Had he asked, I could have also informed him of the number of reviewers who contacted me and asked to review the book, the number of new interviews the tour generated, or the number of offers I received to be a guest writer on other sites. Further, a true case study of book tour vs. sales would have also included an interview with my publisher who would have been glad to inform Mr. Griese that sales went up in August and September, not only as a result of the exposure the book received via the tour, but due to all the other marketing efforts I had been involved with over the span of several months.

For the record, SILENCED CRY has been internationally reviewed and is available in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Asia, South Africa, and Australia. Since I launched my website on March 12 of this year, it has received over 25,000 hits from visitors in 77 countries. To post an opinion based solely on the US Amazon ratings over 4-8 weeks is a meager attempt to manipulate the information to fit a one-sided view.

What is truly unfortunate about these articles is that aside from being slanted, they discourage new authors to use virtual book tours as a networking tool. News flash, call it what you want, but every time an author posts an article or a commentary anywhere on the web, they are in essence promoting their writing and books. This is no different than what an author does when conducting a virtual book tour.

Sales are the results of continued, consistent marketing efforts and to imply that a book tour is akin to sending out a resume on the net followed by the comment, “ah, my résumé (or in this case, book tour) has reached millions of people, now I can sit back and reap the benefits.” is to accuse authors of being naive and uninformed individuals who think that a single marketing strategy will generate long-term sales. This is the biggest fallacy I’ve read thus far.

One final note, after quoting Griese, Creed wrote: “COMMENTS on story above:” implying that I wrote the comment to Griese’s article. I didn’t – it was written by Griese’s other targeted author, Marilyn Meredith. This is one more example of another misleading bit of information written to fit the author’s agenda.

Now, I am curious to know how Mr. Griese found me in the first place if not through my virtual book tour which, of course, makes my point. It caught his attention.

Keep in mind that once a comment or article is posted on the web, it will be available to readers for years, long after a site is shut down. Don’t believe me? Google my name or better yet, Google your own. And that Amazon rating? It has been dropping steadily over the past several weeks. Yesterday it had dropped to around 145,000, I had a rating of 88,000 at B&N. Today they're both up a bit, but I can't stress over this. I write for my readers, and what they have to say about my work. Success to me is knowing that I've touched someone's life and that my writing has given someone pleasure.

If you are so inclined, please read the latest review I received this week by Aaron Lazar on this blog. All other reviews are available on my website, http://www.martastephens-author.com/. To read all my virtual book tour articles, please visit the August archives on this blog.

10 comments:

Sassy Brit said...

Oh my goodness!

Well, how many best selling authors, from major publishing houses need to advertise their books? hmmm?

Virtual book tours are a wonderful idea, and should not be mocked.

I am sorry you got caught up in all this. Any response yet?

Marta Stephens said...

Thanks Sassy,

I agree, with your comment about virtual book tours. I am not as concerned about what was said about me, any mention of my book is free publicity, right? However, it's disturbing that people write about things they know nothing about, don't research it, and pass it off as fact.

Virtual tours do have the potential to open doors that authors may not know exist and I hope many more will plan to conduct one.

I'll be glad to host authors interested in doing a VBT. Please check out my "How-To" in this blog's August archives.

And no, no response yet. ;)

TWCP Authors said...

As owner of the Lost Genre Guild blog, I apologize for the miscommunication of information on the blog Virtual book tours, Are They Worth it?

Yes, some of the information did come straight from the Southern Review as was indicated. Unfortunately, the author didn't attribute the comment to Marilyn Meredith.

The whole point of this blog was to question the usefulness of virtual book tours as relates to immediate and on-going sales -- to start discussion on a marketing technique that many authors assume is the end-all and be-all of promotion.

Companies make big dollars off of authors who haven't researched the validity of blog tours. This is reprehensible. Big blog tour organizations measure their success on Technorati ratings, which is indicative of how many members on the tour are active on each others' blogs, not sales and this is misleading to authors.

Now, if the author is looking for exposure, name recognition -- long term results, then the book tours may be more successful, depending on the audience of the blogs.

Virtual book tours are a great idea. I set them up for all my authors as one more promotional tool to add on to advance reviews. Mr. Creed's works have been toured twice this year, in fact.

But, the question remains: are they worth the effort?

TWCP Authors said...

Ran out of room . . .

I have discussed the concept of virtual book tours with my authors. Mr. Creed is one of the authors who did not see the value in the tours, but was convinced otherwise -- or to at least give it a shot! However, at the same time I also caution authors that the VBT concept is just one of many marketing activities they need to be involved in.

The use of your example was just that, an example. It wasn't intended to be disrespectful and on behalf of the Lost Genre Guild, I apologize for this. If any of the data contained in the Southern Review was false, I also apologize for the use of such data.

By the way, as owner, I also moderate comments. Since we have been receiving a lot of spam, anonymous comments are automatically deleted, unless accompanied by an email address and/ or website URL. There is a note at the top of the left sidebar that indicates this. I will have to ensure that the font is larger so all will see it.

Please feel free to return to the blog post and leave another comment -- if you use your blogger ID, it will be added!

Cynthia MacKinnon

Marta Stephens said...

Cynthia,

I truly appreciate your post, thank you. I did tried several times to respond directly to Mr. Creed’s comments using my valid e-mail and blog ID, but for some reason, the site wouldn’t take it.

Your question remains, is a virtual book tour worth it? For me it most definitely was. Not only did it give me wonderful exposure, but have sales continue to increase. As with anything else, authors will get out of it what they put into it. A person can't post once or twice and expect to get attention in any site or blog, especially the mega ones like Authors Den, Gathers, etc. The key word for me is “network.” It's also all about building relationships with other members—getting to know them and sharing in their interests. Eventually, they'll start sharing information about you with their network of friends and readers.

I’ve given several examples in my previous comments of the benefits I’ve encountered as a result of the tour. I belong to several author/reader groups and my articles continue to pop up on other sites and I’m asked to repost them. Three months later, I’m still reaping those benefits now in the form of increased sales.

Are virtual tours for everyone? Each author needs to make that decision based on their experience, networking know-how, time. The first thing an author should ask him-/herself is, “How much effort am I willing to put forth?”

Will virtual tours generate as you indicated, “immediate and on-going sales … be the end-all and be-all of promotion.” Absolutely not. Virtual book tours should be viewed as only ONE COMPONENT of the author’s marketing campaign.

The second question should be, “Is it necessary to pay someone else to run the tour for me?” It depends on the individual. I don’t personally think so. Then again, I relied on my public relations background to set it up. Another thing to consider is the personality. I’m not shy about approaching others to sponsor me, I post on numerous blogs and sites every day, am never shy about writing to others—especially if I’m particularly moved by their articles, etc. However, not everyone is comfortable with the Internet. I know numerous authors who, outside of their website, shy away from Internet marketing. So for them, allowing someone else to assist in the effort may be their only solution.

Another aspect of the virtual book tour is what an author will learn about him-/herself and/or their characters. It’s one thing to quote the blurb from their book, but when an author must answer interview questions, it’s quite another to sit down and analyze the how, where, when and why of writing it and present it to readers in a concise manner.

At any rate, it’s all a learning process. I would never discourage an author from considering a virtual book tour as one marketing option or from thinking outside the box. I hope many more will consider their options!

TWCP Authors said...

Thank you for responding and for posting this also over at the Lost Genre Guild. I believe it was Frank's intent to start a dialogue about marketing techniques since it is his passion and he frequently encourages authors to be more promotion savvy. Alas, so many are reluctant to become involved in this important component of the writing business.

On another note, I am relieved that I am not the only one who encounters difficulties signing in with their blogger ID! I just attributed it to poor vision while reading the word verification.

And, to add to your information about web visibility . . . the reason I saw your blog post was because I was invited to join a ning network. I was perusing the site and came across an interesting post -- yours -- and was much surprised to see our Lost Genre Guild mentioned. The web is indeed a wonderful tool.

Cynthia MacKinnon

Marta Stephens said...

Hi again Cynthia,

I wouldn't know how to act without the internet. I'm so glad you found my post in the NING group and have had a chance to exchange views.

I look forward to many more chats with you!

Dorothy Thompson said...

I guess you know I just had to comment on this. As CEO and founder of Pump Up Your Book Promotion, virtual book tours are our specialty. And the reason why virtual book tours are our specialty is because it is the most useful tool I have found to get the results we are looking for for our clients. Immediate sales? You josh, right? If you went out and bought bookmarks and passed them out to every reader in Manhattan, how many would actually buy the book? Some? A few? A virtual book tour is simply a method one uses to promote books. The only method that will make people buy books is through what they've heard from other readers or read in other publications. That's where the virtual book tour comes in. If you have an interview, or even say five interviews out there with different bloggers, you might hit a few hundred readers. With the virtual book tours my company produces, your information is in front of millions of readers. Out of those millions of readers, if that book isn't what they want, nothing will make them buy. Not bookmarks, not virtual book tours, not Oprah. So see, it's just a method to get your book in front of those millions of readers. And the great part about a virtual book tour is that they are perpetual. Long after your tour is over, people are still finding you in the search engines and that's what we specialize in. I could go on and on but I'll stop there. I can't give the big picture because it's a method we use that no one else uses, but I will tell you this much. There is no better way to PROMOTE your book than through a virtual book tour. None.

Marta Stephens said...

I second that, Dorothy. Thanks for your comment.

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