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.
2 thoughts on “The Mail I Get”
Excellent advice. I did some major tours with the marketing vice president of my publishing house, who spent his life on the road and knew how to do it. One good idea was to use the lobbies of luxury hotels as resting places between appointments. Excellent seating, quiet, and amenities. They are also a good place to meet friends or do interviews.
We visited wholesalers and distributors. They are busy people and might not welcome a lengthy visit, but many buyers and warehouse people were delighted to receive a signed book. For them, authors are celebrities.
Go for the little places. I have walked into hole-in-the-wall bookstores and found the proprietor amazed to see a real author. The smaller the store, and the more obscure the town, the more likely you can achieve something of value by stopping by and leaving a signed book or signing stock. In some rural areas office supply stores sell books as a sideline. Go visit them.
The same holds true of small newspapers and shopper-type papers. You may be able to get an interview on the spot with a “Thrifty Nickel” paper.
I have also used tours to do site research on my next novels.
Richard, thanks for adding your advice! I’m taking all this to heart (it was my question).