Interview with Cheryl Malandrinos, the Tour Coordinator of Pump Up Your Book Promotion

Cheryl Malandrinos
Cheryl Malandrinos
We are honoured to be presented with the opportunity for an interview (or Q-and-A session, to be exact) with Cheryl Malandrinos, the Tour Coordinator of Pump Up Your Book Promotion, regarding her virtual book tour business.

In my opinion, Cheryl’s niche PR business is one of the examples of how you can ace competition and economic situation by serving a niche within a niche – That is, virtual book tour in an online PR industry. I’m sure you and I can learn a lot from her business idea and model from this interview.

Q: Please tell us about your business.

A: Thanks for asking me to be at Noobpreneur today, Ivan.

Pump Up Your Book Promotion is an online PR firm specializing in virtual book tours for authors in a variety of genres. From self-published authors to authors published by small presses and also those writers with big New York publishing houses, Pump Up has anywhere from 15 to 21 authors touring the blogosphere during any given month.

We contract bloggers who act as hosts to our clients, offering authors an opportunity to be interviewed, get reviews of their books and be featured on Internet radio programs.

Once considered the wave of the future, everyone is realizing the potential power that virtual book tours offer to create an online presence for an author and his work.

Q: How can you stand out above your competitors?

A: Considering how many return clients we have, I believe we stand out quite well. While there are a number of virtual book tour companies out there, and new ones pop up all the time, the formula we’ve used since Pump Up began works and we stick with it. We also review our process from time to time and add things to the mix that increase our clients’ reach. Twitter and Facebook have made a huge difference in online book promotion. It’s even easier to reach a wide audience than it was a year and a half ago when I started with Pump Up.

In addition, our tour packages are affordable. Pump Up provides outstanding service for an excellent price. I’ve had clients tell me they’ve queried other companies that want to charge them thousands of dollars. While it’s not always comparing apples to apples because virtual book tour companies might offer a different mix of blogs and/or radio interviews than we do, is the author going to come even close to seeing a return on his investment when he spends thousands of dollars on a virtual book tour? I don’t see that happening for the average writer.

Q: How do you market and promote your service?

A: Like most businesses do. We have a website and a variety of blogs that we use to promote our tours. I’ve been interviewed at a few blogs, as have other members of our five-person staff. An interview with me and an advertisement for a 10% discount off our Silver package for tours booked by September 7, 2009 will appear in the August issue of Christian Fiction Online Magazine. I also had an interview with Denny Griffin on Blog Talk Radio where we talked all about virtual book tours””or as we call them VBTs””and I answered callers’ questions. Denny is an author and former client of Pump Up.

Client referrals have been important in getting the word out about Pump Up and its services.

Q: How’s the recession changing your business, if any changes present?

A: I have to admit that the end of 2008 and into the first couple of months of 2009 were tense moments. A new administration was on its way in, people were losing their jobs and consumer confidence was low. While Pump Up continued to have a good number of clients, there might have been a few less than the same time last year. But by March things started picking up again and we’ve had several record-breaking months where we’ve toured more authors than ever before.

Q: Any tips for our readers who want to have their book promoted or start a book promotion business like yours?

A: The first thing all authors need to do is set up a website””not one that looks like their ten-year-old nephew slapped it together on the way to his baseball game, but a professional looking , well designed website that is picked up by search engines. That website needs to be in place before a book launch.

Authors need to reach out to bloggers and their local media to let them know they have a book coming out. It’s a good idea to have a media kit and make it as easy as possible for people to interview you.

Many authors are busy writing and don’t want to spend all their time on book promotion. Publishers don’t have the budgets to put together large marketing campaigns for all their authors. That’s where Pump Up comes in. We do most of the work, leaving the author more time to write.

Having a virtual book tour company set up your first VBT can be a great idea for a newly published author because many don’t even know how to get started in promoting their books. There’s no shame in that. We all need to crawl before we learn to walk. Participating in that first virtual book tour gives authors an idea of what they need to do in order to promote their books online.

As with any business, if you want to start a VBT company, it would be smart to check out the competition, have experience in your field, and know who you are going to pitch your business to and how you are going to reach them.

Thanks again for allowing me to discuss Pump Up Your Book Promotion at Noobpreneur today, Ivan. Your readers can visit our website if they are looking for more information on our services. In addition, they can feel free to contact me at cg20pm00(at)gmail(dot)com””replacing the words “at” and “dot” with the correct symbols””and I would be happy to discuss how we can create an online presence for their books.