Yolanda M. Johnson-Bryant

A native of Colorado, Mrs. Yolanda M. Johnson-Bryant, aka That Literary Lady, currently resides in the Piedmont Triad area of North Carolina, with her husband. Mrs. Bryant is a published author, freelance writer, novelist, editor, ghostwriter and a literary, marketing and entrepreneurial consultant and advocate. She is the founder and owner of LW Media Group, Bryant Consulting and That Literary Lady. She is a columnist for Examiner.com, EzineArticles.com and other literary venues. Mrs. Johnson-Bryant is a member of The Nussbaum Entrepreneurial Center, Women of Leadership and Learning (WELL Women) and Toastmasters. She is also a member of Junior Achievement, the Women’s Resource Center of Greensboro, the Volunteer Center of Greensboro and other community organizations. Visit her at www.yolandamjohnson.com, www.lwmediagroup.com, www.bryantconsultingonline.com, and  www.thatliterarylady.com

Bryant Consulting


Pack Your Virtual Bags!

I remember the excitement that built during 1984 when Michael Jackson and the Jacksons announced their Victory Tour. Although, I was unable to attend the concert, I was equally excited and treasured my Victory LP and Michael Jackson paraphernalia.

Last year, the famous music group U2 had their U2 360° Tour that spanned the world and included places like Johannesburg, Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Denver, Salt Lake City, Winnipeg, Nashville, and Minneapolis. The members of this long-running guy band endured the daunting regimen of living out of luggage and sleeping at various hotels as they flew from venue to venue, getting very little rest. Through their hard work, determination, and dedication, they were able to reach audiences filled with thousands upon thousands of fans. Can you just imagine what kind of sales they pulled in? Can you imagine how many fans they reached?

Although you may not be, or never will be, as famous as Michael Jackson and the Jacksons or U2, you can use the same tour concept when selling your books: blog tours, book tours, virtual blog tours, and virtual book tours have been around for some time now. But not everyone understands the value of the concept.

Wikipedia defines a virtual tour as “a simulation of an existing location composed of a sequence of videos, music, narration or text.” It is also one of the greatest ways for an author or writer to get the word out about his or her work. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have money lying about that will allow me to jump into a plane and do a twenty-seven city tour in twelve different states. Imagine the costs associated with something of that magnitude: air fare to each location; if driving, you need vehicle maintenance, and $3.65 a gallon for gas. On top of that, you have to pay for hotel, food, and other related expenses.

At the beginning of the social media and blogging fascination, authors or writers may have been a guest blogger where they wrote about their work and promoted their books. Now, with the explosion of social media and blogging, the number of readers an author can reach is limitless. There is literally no cost in doing a blog tour, although some sites do charge for them.

The number one benefit of a virtual tour of sorts is cash flow. The mighty dollar is always the top reason for almost any career, and writing books is no different. Yes, many of us write books for therapy, to touch someone’s life, or because we have this magnificent story to tell; however, I dare you to tell me that you wouldn’t mind getting paid to do what you do—paid a lot. Many of us write full time, so it is important to make money doing what we do. Some people are doctors, actors, customer service reps—we just happen to be writers.

In addition to promoting your work, virtual tour stops leave links at the virtual stop and is almost permanently imbedded into Internet SEO (search engine optimization). Depending on the links provided, they will lead back to your Website and places on the Web where your books can be purchased.

There are many ways to create and travel via a Virtual Tour. At the Author’s Hideaway, we are the top stop for many blog tours. Christian Fiction Online Magazine is also another top spot for blog tours. In addition to blogs, let’s go over a few creative ways to conduct a blog tour.

Blogs: On a certain day and time, an author will show up at a certain location and talk about his or her book to an audience of thousands. An author can choose to provide prerecorded information like videos, podcasts, radio interviews, or preanswered questions. A blog host will post them on his or her site and either have a specific time to allow an audience to ask questions or simply talk about the author’s book. Or a tour may be an all-day event. This option gives the author broader coverage. The average reader works nine to five, so having an all-day stop allows those readers who would otherwise miss the tour the ability to attend once they get home. There is so much that can be done on a virtual stop, but I want to move on to some other exciting ways to conduct a virtual tour.

Twitter: Did someone say party? How about a Twitter party? Yes, you can make a virtual stop at your very own Twitter party! You or your tour host can create a hashtag, i.e. #thatliterarylady, and all of your media can be posted via Twitter using that hashtag. If you don’t know what a hashtag is, do a Google search! Videos, audios, podcasts, photos, and comments can be live-streamed during a party and will be available via the Internet almost indefinitely. Many think that once you delete a tweet, it’s gone forever. Think again—if you watched CSI or Law and Order, you’d know this. Now, there are even Twitter clients that will allow you to create a “venue,” i.e. chat room, to have your party.

Facebook:You or your tour host can set up a group or fan page on Facebook that will allow tour-goers to participate and make instant comments that are more refined than those on Twitter. You can post photos and videos and confine your comments to one particular post. Another benefit to a Facebook group chat is that if your book or writing is a bit risqué and you want to make sure it doesn’t reach those under the age of twenty-one, you can create a private closed group. The downside is that you won’t garner as wide an audience as you would with an open group or page, because in a private group, people have to be invited. Unlike a page or public group, a private group is not discoverable in Facebook’s search engine.

Google Plus Hangouts: Currently, you can meet with only ten people at a time in Google Hangouts, but don’t let that discourage you. From the comfort of your office, couch, or kitchen table (just make sure dirty dishes can’t be seen in the background), you can schedule thirty-minute- to one-hour segments with various book clubs. Again this is an option for a smaller group of attendees, but it can still have the same impact. And how cool is it that book clubs, your audience, get to see you via video chat?

There are so many more options and variations to a virtual tour, or whatever you choose to call it. I hope these few options open up a world of creativity for you to reach thousands of readers and potential sales for your work. So pack your virtual bags and set off for virtual destinations of your dreams.