Interview with Cheryl Malandrinos of Pump Up Your Book

Cheryl Malandrinos is a freelance writer and editor. A regular contributor to Writer2Writer, her articles focus on increasing productivity through time management and organization. A member of Musing Our Children, Ms. Malandrinos is also the Editor in Chief of the group’s quarterly newsletter, Pages & Pens.

Cheryl is also a Tour Coordinator for Pump Up Your Book, a book reviewer, and blogger. Her first children’s book will be released in 2010 by Guardian Angel Publishing. Ms. Malandrinos lives in Western Massachusetts with her husband, two children, and three cats. She also has a married son.

You can find Cheryl online at http://ccmalandrinos.tripod.com/

Cheryl, could you tell us about yourself and what Pump Up Your Book does for authors?

Thanks for having me as a guest on your blog today. I’m honored to be here. I am a freelance writer, copy editor, and perhaps by the time this interview appears, I’ll be able to add published author to that list. My first children’s book, The Little Shepherd Boy, is due out this month.

My main source of income, however, is as a virtual book tour coordinator for Pump Up Your Book (formerly Pump Up Your Book Promotion). Authors contract us to set up blog tours to promote their books. Whether the books are new releases or the authors are looking to draw attention to an older release, they hire us to send them on a journey around the blogosphere to create an online buzz for their books.

How many blogs can an author expect to be on during a tour, and how long does the average tour last?

This differs per company, but Pump Up Your Book offers a variety of tour packages at affordable prices. Authors can tour for two-weeks, which would be stops at 10 – 12 blogs, or they can tour up to two months, which means they would appear on 30 or more blogs. The most popular package I sell is the Gold package, which is a one month tour with 20 blog stops.

At what point in the book’s publication should a writer be thinking about setting up a blog tour?

While it is an excellent idea to research virtual book tour companies months before your book’s release, approximately two months before copies of the book are available will be the time to sign up for a virtual book tour. By this time you should have an idea of who you would be most comfortable working with, what is expected of you and what the company will provide. This should also give you time for bloggers to receive copies of the book to review. It takes a minimum of 4 to 6 weeks to put together a successful virtual book tour.

What are the advantages and benefits of a blog tour as opposed to a book store tour?

I’m not an either or type of person. I feel authors need to look at their marketing budgets and decide where their money is best spent. I have three events planned within the first few months of my book’s release, and I am coordinating a virtual book tour to expand my reach.

That said, virtual book tours allow authors to easily find readers beyond their local area. In our current economic situation, one of the largest advantages of a virtual book tour is that you don’t have to spend money on gas, a new set of clothes, and hotels. No one knows if you’re checking your blog stops from your kitchen table in your robe with your hair sticking out like you just jammed a fork in an electrical outlet.

Consumers are busy people. Many people buy more products online than in stores. Amazon is my best friend between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I rarely step into a mall during the holiday season. Authors need to go where the buyers are. A virtual book tour gets you and your book into search engines so potential readers can find you. Bloggers have loyal followings. If they recommend your book, it’s just as good as their next door neighbor telling them how wonderful some new product is.

The other great advantage to a virtual book tour is its longevity. Readers can find out about your book months after your virtual book tour is over. Tours are also an excellent way to network. Bloggers are some of the nicest folks out there. If they like your book, they’ll tell everybody about it!

How can an author judge a blog tour’s success?

Obviously, authors are looking at sales numbers. If I don’t sell a boatload of books while on a virtual book tour, then it can’t be a success. Right?

The objective of a virtual book tour, like any marketing tool, is to help you create a brand and let people know about your product. Virtual book tours do this by splashing your name all over the Internet, putting you in touch with markets you wouldn’t easily reach unless you’re online. If you can type your name or the book’s title into Google and have your blog stops come up within the first three pages of results—the only ones most readers look at—then your tour is a success. If you’ve gotten some reviews you can post on your website or use blurbs from in a press release, then your virtual book tour is a success. If you’ve networked with bloggers who are willing to help you promote your next release, then your tour is a success. Yes, the ultimate goal is sales, but spending time to create that brand must come first.

How can an author get in contact with your company?

Authors can visit our website at http://www.pumpupyourbook.com If they go to the “Book Your Tour” tab they will find our current offerings and fee schedule. There is a contact form on our website. I can be directly reached at cg20pm00(at)gmail(dot)com.

Thank you so much for taking the time!

Thanks again for letting me discuss virtual book tours with your readers. When I began working for Pump Up Your Book three years ago, virtual book tours were the wave of the future. Now, like cell phones and social media, it seems we can’t imagine life without them. Like e-Books, they aren’t half as scary as they seemed when they first came out. They help put authors in touch with readers all over the world!

Just a note: Cheryl will be on A Writer’s Jumble this fall when her first children’s book is released!