Book Tours: Finally, Someone Makes It Easy For Everyone

July 19th, 2007 · 1 Comment
by Kassia Krozser

Sometimes something comes along and you think, “Why hasn’t this been done already?” Or maybe you think, “I’m so glad that someone is finally doing this right” Or a combination of the two. And it’s always a joy when the good idea builds upon other good ideas by people you like.

A multi-pronged approach increases the breadth and depth of information for readers.

When I last saw Kevin Smokler, it was a crowded, smoke-fill–okay, the last time I saw Kevin Smokler was at the O’Reilly Tools of Change Conference. But the room was crowded. Kevin handed over his new business card, telling me that he was part of the new venture BookTour.com. Technically, his job title is Chief Evangelist and Community Director.

A few years ago, as you will recall, Kevin started a concept called the “virtual book tour” — where he hooked up authors with various websites. Day- or week-long tours of blogs showcased the author’s writing and ability to meet a crowd. BookTour.com is a similar concept with a twist: in-person appearances (note: the site is still in Beta).

Shocking, no? Yes, there is a finally a service that connects authors and audiences. Or, to put it in their words:

BookTour.com, a free online service connecting authors and audiences, announced its public launch today. In private beta since June 1, BookTour.com has been showcased at Book Expo America 2007 and the first O’Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing Conference, where company chairman Chris Anderson (Editor in Chief of Wired Magazine and author of The Long Tail) was a featured presenter.

“BookTour.com uses what’s best about the Internet—decentralization, low barrier to entry and universal access—to create a one-stop tool for book promotion,” said Anderson. “For authors, BookTour makes locating speaking venues totally painless. For the community at large, there’s now a single site for information on when a favorite author is coming to town.”

Yes, kids, thanks to easy-to-use, modern technology, you can get out the word about your appearances. But wait, there’s more! By combining authors, books, and places, you get personalized content. Like, oh, a weekly newsletter telling you about author appearances in your neighborhood and, once you’ve registered, the home page gives you a listing of upcoming appearances (dates would be helpful here).

Kevin described BookTour.com as a sort of Pollstar for authors. This is either handy shorthand or an indicator of great future ambitions. If the latter, here’s why. There are multiple ways for fans to connect with authors: email (still cool after all these years), RSS (hallelujah!), you can add dates to your calendar (adding an option for the Google calendar would be lovely, even via a widget that can be embedded in your website; also I didn’t notice if I can get a specific venue via the calendar or RSS option — if so, yes!, if not, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t have a wish list).

Authors, if you haven’t already abandoned this post to hit the BookTour site, add your information, and embed the widget on your home page, what, pray tell, are waiting for? Do you really want to continue to continue to code this stuff in HTML?

You can also request visits from authors. Now, don’t be fooled. Not every request will be fulfilled. However, lots of individual requests might make an author think seriously about visiting new and different places.

As noted above, there are many ways to connect fans with authors. Meaning that you don’t have to be the author (or publicist) to add upcoming information. You don’t have to be the bookstore owner to add upcoming tour dates (yes, there are controls in place to make sure information is accurate). By taking a multi-pronged approach to getting author appearance information into the database, this increases the breadth and depth of information for readers. Since they’re the ones who matter, this is very good indeed.

Please recall that the site is in live Beta and there are — as is always the case — bugs being worked out. The best way to help the BookTour.com folks help you is to tell them when you encounter something that doesn’t feel right. Read the FAQ. Check out the bells and whistles. And, please, add your data. It’s your good deed for the day!

[tags]booktour, booktour.com, book tour, kevin smokler, chris anderson, publicity, authors[/tags]

File Under: Marketing For Introverts

1 response so far ↓

  • BostonBookEd // Jul 20, 2007 at 6:27 am

    BookTour seems like a great idea, and I’ve already signed up after reading your post. You should get a commission! Here’s hoping it connects and works for people….