Today veteran romance author Kate Walker shares valuable insight about her own recently completed VBT for her book THE RETURN OF THE STRANGER.
How did you decide that a VBT was right for you and your book, Kate?
A friend of mine and another Harlequin Presents author, Christina Hollis, mentioned she was considering a VBT and she posted an interview with Nas on her blog, Romance Book Paradise, that sounded interesting, so I was intrigued. I thought about considering a tour for my next book coming up, THE DEVIL AND MISS JONES, because this will be my 60th title, but I was looking for some way of promoting THE RETURN OF THE STRANGER—particularly because it is a rather different and special book. STRANGER is one part of a four-book mini series inspired by the classics of romantic literature, and as my book was inspired by Wuthering Heights, which is a real favorite of mine, I wanted to mark this publication. A blog tour seemed a great way to do it.
When I first started writing—my first book was published in 1984—there was no way I could reach the many wonderful readers who are all over the world. I live in a small town in Lincolnshire, England, and for many years I was never able to reach, let alone talk, with readers from America, Australia and all the other 160-plus countries that I've had visitors from on my Web site and blog. So it's a thrill and a delight to have this way of connecting with them and chatting in spite of miles between us and time zones, etc.
Are certain sites better for VBTs than others?
To spark off interest on a tour and create a following that leads to lots of comments—and giveaways!—you want a busy, active site where there are often plenty of commenters. There's also a different balance to create between the sites where the visitors are mostly readers and those where they are mostly writers or interested in learning the craft of writing. But of course would-be writers usually are interested in reading published authors, so they will contribute too.
What topics do blog followers seem to most enjoy on VBTs?
Followers want to know about the book you've just had published, and THE RETURN OF THE STRANGER was a gift in this way. Being that bit different, it created a lot of interest, and people wanted to know how I'd approached creating it with the foundation of the original novel behind it. I also could talk about how I first found out about Wuthering Heights, how I loved reading it from the time I was young, how I studied the book at university, etc.
Readers love to know about the "seeds" that create a novel, how you build the characters of the hero and heroine of the story. But they also want to know more about you, the author. There were sites on the tour—Romance Bandits, Minxes of Romance, etc.—where I had visited before and followers knew about me—while on some sites I was a complete unknown, so posts about my life as a writer, how many books I'd published and how I'd come into writing were all interesting as introductions.
There were also the specialist writing sites where people wanted advice on the craft of writing and to find out more about writing romance in particular. Sometimes these sites knew me as the author of the 12-POINT GUIDE TO WRITING ROMANCE and sometimes this was new to them too, so I had that to talk about and how and why I wrote my guide to writing romance.
The obvious answer is when you have a new book out and something to talk about, whenever that might be. But I was lucky. THE RETURN OF THE STRANGER was out in September in the United Kingdom/October in the United States, and I think that's a good time of the year. People aren't away on holiday and so not reading blogs/looking at their computers; any later, when you get to December, etc., everyone is so very busy that they don't have so much time for blogging. I also think that around Christmas lots of sites and blogs have special celebrations and giveaways, and the blog tour could get lost in all that, so it's perhaps best to avoid that time if possible.
Oh, I think that depends on the author's stamina, interest—and ideas! I think I did about 33 posts in about three months, and it was hectic! But there was a lot of variety in the blogs I visited and lot of interest in the comments I received. I'll add that some days some blogs where they were really busy and buzzing it was hard to keep up—especially as I had lots of other things to do such as writing a new book! I think perhaps half of that would have been more manageable, particularly if I wanted to do it more often, but I was so surprised to see how many blogs wanted me to visit that I felt I would visit as many as I could to get to know new people and make new friends. And of course RETURN OF THE STRANGER was a rather special book for me. I would probably do a big blog tour again but for some special book. My next one out is actually my 60th, but I think I've run too short on time to be able to manage another big tour right now, and I wouldn't want people to get bored of seeing me—or, even worse, to think I was out there doing the hard sell.
What is the best tip you learned as a result of your RETURN OF THE STRANGER VBT?
I learned to go and check out the sites to see what sort of posts they had regularly. Some places wanted craft- and writing-focused posts, ones that would inspire and encourage their writer audience. Others wanted light-hearted and amusing posts, while still others wanted specific interview questions answered. So I went to each site and read up on past posts to get the "flavor" of the site.
I also learned—though I happened to think this was important already—how important it is to go back to the places where your blog has been posted and chat with the commenters, join in a conversation with them, and respond to their comments and questions. Not to do so is just plain bad manners in my book; the owners of the sites have given you hospitality and publicity on their blog, and the commenters have taken the time and trouble to post a response. If you don't share in the conversation yourself, it's like going to a reception that someone has laid on for you, making a brief speech and then leaving without talking to anyone. People will remember if you stopped, smiled and said hello—even if only briefly—and they'll also remember if you ignored them!
Personally I think that there is nothing worse or more off-putting than the hard sell where you basically say, "Hello, I'm Kate Walker, and I'd like you to buy my book." To me, that's rude and makes you look like a door-to-door salesman! I've met a lot of readers/bloggers all over the Internet who are very soon able to spot someone who appears only to sell, and I know that it puts them off completely. It's far more likely to make them react in the opposite way and not want anything to do with you or your books then or in the future. A VBT should be a way of getting to know more people in countries and on sites you don't normally reach.
Right now I wouldn't plan to do a tour for THE DEVIL AND MISS JONES, as I think it's too close to the big tour I've just done and I think over exposure can be as bad as too little. So now I'm probably going to wait till the next "big number" book. Hmm, that would be 70 titles! And that might be too long before I reach—maybe 65 titles then! One thing I would do is prepare for a tour farther ahead than I did for RETURN OF THE STRANGER so that I could write some posts well in advance and not be trying to catch up so much. It did end up as a bit too much of a dash at times!
Sorry, no, the Powerful and the Pure was a four-book series only, and that mini series is now finished. Of course I can't say that my editor won't ever ask me to be part of another series, and then we'll see what challenge she comes up with!
THE DEVIL AND MISS JONES is a stand-alone novel featuring a sexy Argentinian hero, Carlos Diablo Ortega—that's where The Devil comes from—who has turned his back on a life that he no longer feels is his anymore, an identity that he finds out isn't actually true as he's not who he thought he was. Struggling to come to terms with what has happened to him, he unexpectedly meets up with Martha Jones, who is on the run from her own demands. They meet in unexpected and astonishing circumstances, and the results of that one meeting force them both to totally change their lives. Of course this takes them on a new and unexpected emotional journey!
Thanks so much for inviting me back to chat again, Michelle. I enjoyed visiting your blog in the past. And special thanks to Nas Dean for organizing such a great blog tour for me. I'm still getting comments from readers about how much they enjoyed it.
Thank you very much, Kate, for taking time to provide such detailed and helpful information. I can't tell you how many times I turn to your reference book, 12-POINT GUIDE TO WRITING ROMANCE.
WHERE READERS CAN FIND KATE
In her 25 years as a romance author, Kate Walker has written best sellers that have been published in 50 countries, and she's sold more than 15 millions titles worldwide. She frequently is asked to be a guest speaker at Romantic Novelists' Association conferences in the United Kingdom.
Kate's online presence includes her: