Bouchercon 2009, coming this Thursday and lasting through Sunday, marks the end of my September Fair book tour. Those who know me, particularly those who rely on me for love, food, and shelter, refer to my book tours as "Mom's Crabby Time," a period where I’m so busy I forget what my kids look like and what my nice voice sounds like.
Yet despite the personal and financial cost, I continue to go on book tours. Here’s why:
- I want my series to do well.
- I value my publisher, Midnight Ink, and I understand the risk they're taking by publishing my novels and what they expect of me in terms of pushing the product.
- I like to see people who like my books.
But because I have a full-time job, two kids, and a partner who likes it when I occasionally acknowledge him, I now specialize in the "Work Smarter not Harder" style of book touring. It hasn't always been this way. With May Day, published in March 2006 and the first in the series, it was more of a Monica Lewinsky approach, where I was trying to please everyone. Not anymore. And I’d like to share with you the nuggets of efficient book touring I’ve picked up:
- Choose library engagements rather than bookstore booksignings. Libraries pay and in my experience, draw a larger crowd. And they always let you sell your books.
- Plan multiple booksignings in a single day. Three in one day, nine in a weekend is my record. I totally gave that weekend over to booksignings, which was exhausting but allowed me to schedule family time the rest of the week. And once you’re in signing mode, I say go for it.
- Contact local media at least three weeks before each signing. If you don’t have a great publicist like me, do this yourself. I’ve done it before, and they’re almost always grateful for a light news story. Only one signing in my two-month tour was not accompanied by a newspaper article or radio or television interview.
- Support your indies. Not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because they are the people who will handsell your books. A tiny store in northern Minnesota sold over 40 copies of September Fair the month it came out, and it’s because I connected with the owner. In my experience, booksignings are as much about making friends with the staff as they are about landing a new reader or two.
- That said, I always hit a couple B & Ns and Borders. It’s easier to get publicity for those, and B & N CRMs are some of my favorite people out there.
- Put writing on hold while on book tour, and keep the book tour to a limited span. You may disagree with me on this one, but I think writing and promoting run counter to each other, and it’s best to focus on one or the other. That’s why I keep my book tours to two months and turn down almost every request that doesn’t fall in that time period.
That’s about all I know for sure. Let me know if you have any questions about the above, or tips of your own to add. Hope to see you in Bouchercon!