While there is debate over the worthiness of a book tour due to its expense, low turn outs and minimal impact on book sales, I'm of the opinion that there is an enormous benefit to connecting with readers, creating word of mouth book sales and doing whatever I can to let readers know about my book. And the teacher in me can't resist sharing my tips for making book tour successful--and fun.
Before you hit the road
- Confirm the details of the event with your contact at the agency or book store. Offer to send along anything else they need to promote the event.
- Plan to stay with friends or family to reduce any expenses you'll incur. (Reality check: Your publisher isn't likely to pay for the full tour.) This will also increase the likelihood that they will come to your events and bring friends.
- Pack clothes in the same color family and those that don't wrinkle--this allows you to pack light and sleep as late as possible because you don't have to get up to iron.
- Bring along healthy snacks so you won't be hungry or forced to eat junk or fast food.
- Ask a friend or family member to check your email and phone messages while you are away. You won't always have the time or the WiFi connection to do it yourself.
- Leave a copy of your itinerary for your family so they know when they can call you or expect you to call them.
- Always arrive early for any book signings or events; being late is unfair to the people who organized your events and it makes you begin your talk stressed.
- Have water and mints available for the "dry throat while speaking" phenomenon.
- Be prepared for anything. No promotion, no books, no turnout? While I haven't run into these things yet, thank goodness, I'm prepared for anything. Don't take it personally; even though this means the world to you, to others it may be just another day in the life.
- People want to meet and talk with you--make the time to answer questions, personalize your signing and thank them for coming or buying a book.
- Be positive and smile, even if you're exhausted. Word of mouth happens when you write a good book and make a nice impression.
- Every single person you meet is important. Whether you talk with one person or one hundred people, each one made the time to come and hear your message--be grateful.
- Stop in at bookstores in the area you're visiting. Bring bookmarks to leave at the stores where you sign stock and an over-sized postcard of your book information at places where your book isn't on shelves. (This drop in method of book tour has resulted in several events for me--Read how to, by J. A. Konrath)
- Always read a snippet of your book, even if your audience is small. People want to know what they will be buying. (In my case, I ask participants the ages of their children and their biggest struggles and then read a section that would appeal to them.)
- Politely ask staff if you can place your books in various--appropriate--places within the bookstore. If you are nice and did a good job at the event, they are more than pleased to give you prime real estate. And don't forget to offer to sign remaining copies.
- Sleep, eat well, walk where and when you can, and limit alcohol. Book tour is nothing short of exhausting--staying healthy is critical to finishing strong.
- Write thank you notes to organizers. Relationship building is key and it's just good manners to thank anyone who's assisted you on your journey.
- Catch up on email and phone messages. Leaving them longer than a few days isn't good for business or friendships.
- Squeeze in time off or more sleep before you head out again. (Can you tell I love my bed?)