Do’s and Don’ts of Virtual Book Tours to Promote Social Causes

Today we welcome Lolo Smith as part of her Virtual book Tour. I highly recommend virtual book tours as a way to position yourself as a leader in your field. Therefore I invite you to support Lolo by following her on tour. Also, why not add a virtual book tour as part of your marketing mix? I’m sure you’ll get some great ideas as you follow the tour. Once you’ve read this article, click the image to the right to download my free gift: Expand Your Reach. How to Attract Your Ideal Readers Who are Ready to Buy From You and discover the secrets of lucrative tours.

Welcome, Lolo and thank you for visiting us as part of your tour. Thrive.

When I heard book-marketing expert, D’vorah Lansy, introduce the idea of a virtual book tour, I was intrigued. Previously, I had purchased a press release done-for-you service to market our bullying prevention books for

Marion, LoLo & Gerald at Jarmal Harris' Fashion Show

Marion, LoLo & Gerald at Jarmal Harris’ Fashion Show

children. The press releases went out to all kinds of news outlets across the country, yet no book sales came out of it. The press releases were a waste of money because they targeted the wrong audience. The bullying prevention books, Stand Up Against Bullying Like a Superhero by Carla A. Nordé and Be a Superhero By Saying No to Bullying by Gerald S. Nordé, Jr., target an urban audience, and the news outlets did not reach those markets. So, I purchased a list of 200 children’s book bloggers. That brings me to…

Don’t #1: Don’t cold call or email bloggers you don’t know to ask them to host a guest article.
I hired TechDoneForYou.com to manage my virtual book tour, because I run a busy literacy nonprofit in Washington, D.C. called Do the Write Thing, and did not have time to contact potential hosts myself. However, once we started contacting potential guest bloggers on that list, we quickly found that nobody replied to our emails. Instead, we decided to run a Facebook ad that reached our target audience better.

Do #1: Analyze your target audience, and find creative ways to engage with them via Facebook ads.
I took the advice of Gina Decker, the Virtual Book Tour Manager whom I hired, and ran a targeted Facebook ad to urban audiences: specifically to grandparents in impoverished cities who might have children who have been bullied. The ad was a hit! It reached 3,972 people, received 241 reactions, gained 113 likes, 11 comments, and 106 shares. We targeted women, ages 50-65+ (the grandparents of children who possibly might be bullied). We also ran the ad to 13 locations: Birmingham, Oakland, Washington DC, Atlanta, Chicago, Boston, Detroit, Jersey City, New York, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Memphis, and Brownsville.

Don’t #2: Don’t skip adding security protections to your Virtual Book Tour website.
Living Story Books BannerInitially, I had TechDoneForYou set up a WordPress website on GoDaddy, where I had my two other websites hosted. However, the site got hacked, and my non-profit sites went down. We’re required to keep the sites up under the non-profit conditions, so I switched to BlueHost and we installed a plugin called Limit Login Attempts that you can set to shut out hackers who might log in to the site multiple times. We also set a strong password with a combination of random letters, numbers, and characters to prevent future hackings. Our Virtual Book Tour website, www.livingstorybooks.com, hasn’t been broken into since.

Do #2: Set up an opt-in with a free gift.
Initially, I did not have an autoresponder set up on my websites before the Bullying Prevention Virtual book Tour started. TechDoneforYou set up my account in AWeber so that we could automatically deliver free “Say No to Bullying” posters via the website. That way I was able to grow my list. List building is a long-term strategy, but since I didn’t have a system set up before, I was giving things away for free but not collecting the names and emails and lost out on future follow-up opportunities to teach readers about the activities our non-profit provides. We included the Virtual Book Tour Bullying Prevention articles directly in the autoresponder sequence in case folks missed the tour stops.

Don’t # 3: Don’t forget to inform your readers about your social causes.
Doing a book tour led to people interested in learning more about our non-profit. One of our tour hosts, Connie Dunn, asked us about our programs after she hosted one of our articles. That was an opportunity to give her more information about our non-profit. For instance, Do the Write Thing customizes books by taking photos of children in super hero costumes during a green screen photo shoot. We also translate books, if necessary. We have an English-Spanish version of our book about community workers.

Once the books for elementary children are customized with their photos, the files are uploaded at Createspace.com, which is owned by Amazon.com. Students in middle and high school write poems, which are published in a book through Createspace.com. Middle and high school students participate in a publishing workshop and learn every aspect of self-publishing through Createspace. The youth are divided into groups to carry out all the functions necessary to prepare the files and upload them to Createspace: (a) proofreading/copyediting, (b) editorial (front matter: copyright page, title page, dedication page, foreword, introduction, epigraphs, acknowledgements) (back matter: back cover of the book); (c) front cover design using canstockphoto.com, istockphoto.com or Google images, (c) marketing – the students write and email press releases about their book to local newspapers and their school newspapers and arrange for a book signing.

Do The Write Thing is a tax exempt 501(c) (3) organization that applies for and is awarded grants by foundations and government agencies to carry out its programs with a paid staff of subject area experts. We sponsor programs after-school from 4-6pm at public schools through grant funding. We operate daily 6-week programs during the summer through grants or contracts. For the first time during the summer 2016, Do The Write Thing will offer a summer camp and ask parents to pay for their children to attend. The camp will be offered at a private school in an exclusive area of the District called Georgetown. The profits will be used to underwrite a FREE summer camp for youth in poorer neighborhoods.

There is a kiddie play based on the book about community workers that is presented as a demonstration performance or a musical (if funding allows). During the current school year, the students were taught the choreography to a NO BULLYING song and went to 5 different classes and performed. During the current school year, the students were also involved in a Black History Month production.

In many instances when human beings interact, there is a bullying culture where some individuals use force, coercion, abuse, aggressiveness, and threats to dominate others. The same issues occur among children and teaching them kindness is essential for reducing instances of bullying. As illustrated in books like “Stand Up Against Bullying,” various forms of bullying such as verbal, physical, social and cyber exist among children and demand remediation due to their mental, physical, and psychological implications on victims. Among the proposed strategies is teaching children to be kind to each other since it has proven an effective tool for reducing incidences of bullying.

Our research on bullying has indicated that when children are taught how to be kind to one another it reduces the incidence of bullying significantly. We are going to partner with ThinkKindness.org and have them engage our youth in a kick-off assembly to challenge them to participate in 15 days of kindness. We have a partnership with an organization that focuses on fashion for high school youth. We will fuse fashion, fashion show production and writing in a bullying prevention program that focuses on kindness. Youth will create, digitize, then hea- press anti-bullying and kindness messages onto tee-shirts, jeans, sweats and other clothing (“Kindness Is Always in Style,” “Kindness Is Always in Fashion,” “Fashion Against Bullying,” “Be A BUDDY Not A Bully,” etc.). Youth will sell these items online and present them to the public in a fashion show. Youth will write poems and stories about acts of kindness that made them feel better about themselves. Do The Write Thing will publish these poems and stories.

Do #3: Use multi-media, such as interviews, to bring attention to your cause.
For one of our tour stops, we broadcasted an interview or Carla A. Nordé, the author of Stand Up Against Bullying Like a Superhero. The book indicates why it is vital for parents, teachers, friends, and families to teach their children kindness so that it can be used as an ultimate tool for reducing bullying. Kindness should be taught as it is the defining aspect of civility that prevents victimization, violence, and other hurtful behaviors associated with bullying. You can catch the interview at http://www.livingstorybooks.com/events/

If you liked this article or know anyone who has been bullied, please join the bullying prevention cause! You can download your free “Say No To Bullying” posters by visiting www.livingstorybooks.com where you can also find more information about the book “Stand Up Against Bullying.”

LoLo Smith
StandupAgainstBullyingLikeASuperheroBookcoverLoretta (LoLo) Smith is an educator, writer and founder of Living Storybook, a literacy program. She has written four books: Mr. Jordan Goes to Washington (for adults); Sista CindyElla Mae (the African-American re-telling of the Cinderella story); The Tale of the Gold Medallion and I Know My Community Workers. She was raised and educated in St. Louis, Missouri but has lived in the District of Columbia for 40 years. She has one adult son.

CarlaNordeCarla A. Nordé was born and raised in the District of Columbia. After graduating from Wilson Senior High School, she worked for several years then matriculated at Trinity University for three years. She now provides consulting services to non-profits that use the arts to enhance the life success of children and youth. She is the single mother of two children. She has written one book, Stand Up Against Bullying Like a Superhero, in response to her son being bullied at school.

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