I recently got an email from a debut author looking for some touring advice. She wrote, in part:
My debut novel is coming out in May, and I'll be spending all of June traveling around the country, visiting bookstores and book clubs. My schedule is anchored by reading/signing events at key bookstores, with private parties and book club meetings in the local areas around them. As I finalize my schedule, I notice I have a lot of downtime on weekday daytimes. Obviously, most people are at work then, so there's not much to do […] Besides bookstore drop-ins, what are ways for a traveling writer to make productive professional use of those weekday daytimes?
Write. Or relax. If you haven't done a book tour before, you will find that it is exhausting. If you want to be at your best for those evening signings, talks, etc., you need some down time. I also find that writing keeps me mentally "centered" when I'm traveling, especially if I'm hitting several cities over a very few days. It can become a blur. It's also nice to do a little sight-seeing…it might spark ideas or scenes in your next book.
But if you are intent on maximizing your promotion time, try to call ahead to each city and arrange a lunch or breakfast with a newspaper reporter or local blogger. Or try to arrange a radio or tv interview with a local station. If all else fails, you can help spread good will (and positive word of mouth) by offering to talk to a local high school or college English class…or at a local library.