How about a virtual book tour? | india | Hindustan Times
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How about a virtual book tour?

If you?re a would-be writer, you probably know that in these days of big buck marketing hype you need to plan an elaborate launch, writes Sanjay Trehan in Life In Cyberia.

india Updated: Dec 14, 2003 01:00 IST

If you’re a would-be writer, you probably know that in these days of big buck marketing hype you need to plan an elaborate launch., chalk out plans for a book tour and spend oodles of money on advertising and publicity.

Thanks to cyberspace. I recently discovered a fascinating website which undertakes the virtual book tour (VBT) at www.kevinsmokler.com. It strives to bring together the world of web logging and the world of publishing, which is waking up to the idea of the personal web to connect readers and books.

Now pray, what is a VBT? Simply, it consists of an author ‘stopping’ at a given number of websites in a given amount of time, getting interviewed there, taking over the site for a day and generally hanging out with the surfers (potential readers). Basically, it’s like a traditional book tour, except that concrete cities are replaced by neon-lit websites. It is essentially cost-effective and you don’t need to book flights, hotel rooms, rental cars and all the paraphernalia that a young author or a publishing house may find difficult to manage.

The VBT is the brainchild of Kevin Smokler, who is a writer and a performer, specialising in literary and popular culture and personal story telling. He also founded CentralBooking.com—an online community of book lovers.

Incidentally, Kevin regularly tells stories and monologues at www.frayday.com and The Edinburgh Castle at www.castlenews.com. Though a brilliant writer, Kevin is humble about the success of the VBT. He says he got the idea from Ben Brown (www.benbrown.com) of the micropublishing house, So New Media (www.sonewmedia.com).

So New Media is an ultra-micro-mini publishing house whose goal is “to seek out, publish and promote new authors.” There are thousands of authors worldwide who will never publish a book, not because they lack talent, but because the gates to the publishing world have grown too high.

Whether it’s an issue of money, courage, or marketability, hundreds of brilliant pieces of writing go unseen every year.

I browsed through Ben Brown’s site and experienced its cutting-edge feel. Ben says that at a young age, he developed strange and wonderful powers. He wishes he could “shoot webs from his wrists and swing through the concrete valleys of a major metropolis.” He's not too sure about the crime fighting bits, though. Ben also edits a daily webzine called Uber (http://uber.nu).

Thanks to these enterprising guys, you needn’t let that novel stay put in your hard drive anymore or that killer idea remain sitting in your brain. If you’re an author interested in receiving a virtual book tour or a publicist/agent/publisher representing an author or even a website owner keen on being a stop on the VBT, get in touch with Kevin.

Carry on surfing!

strehan@hindustantimes.com