Thursday, October 25, 2007

Ins and Outs of Book Tour

By Lynne

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.
On the Road
  • 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.
After you return home
  • 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?)
For those of you who have recently published, please share your tips for a successful book tour. And feel free to post questions in the comment section today. I'm happy to share more details.


Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Lynne, these are all spot-on. Excellent advice. I'd add (or second) be prepared for anything. Be felxible. One thing I do, whenever I am out of town, for anything, I stop in at bookstores, introduce myself and offer to sign stock.

And just be nice and friendly.

So glad the tour is going well.

Carleen Brice said...

When signing at an indie book store, I always buy a book or something (in one case a pair of earrings) to support the store. Which means leaving room in my bag for the stuff I'm going to buy while I'm on the road. Builds relationships and provides retail therapy!

ORION said...

I love going to libraries!!! They totally rock.
The events are well publicized and usually well attended.
Before I was published I always thought tours were crucial to selling books but my publicist pointed out that going to a city makes it more likely media will cover your book and that's one of the big reasons for doing it.

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

Hi Judy,
Yes, even on vacation it is important to promote. Are there wonderful bookstores in wine country?

Yes, Carleen, I agree. I buy something in every independent bookstore I visit--and my husband will tell you I did so even before I was published!

Hi Pat,
Libraries are indeed a wonderful venue. And the in town publicity buzz invaluable. Glad things continue to go well for you.

Thanks all--Lynne

Larramie said...

Enjoy your bed, Lynne, you're certainly earning your share of frequent early lights out.

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

Hi Larramie,

Whether the lights are on or off, I shut down early these days. A contented sleep earned through hard work is the reason. Hope you enjoyed your trip!