Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Whose Kids Are Those? by Jess Lourey

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!

9 comments:

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Great tips, Jess! Sounds like it's been a successful tour for you. Have fun in Bouchercon.

Elizabeth
Mystery Writing is Murder

Lisa Bork said...

Love the cartoon and the tips! Looking forward to meeting you at Bouchercon!

Jess Lourey said...

I have a hard time measuring success on the tours, Elizabeth, but I did feel like I used my time better in this one than previous ones, where I took any engagement, all year round, and didn't have the publicity to go with the events. Of course, part of it is that it's easier to get the publicity the more books you write, but still...

See you in a couple days, Lisa!

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

LOVE the cartoon! Fabulous tips, Jess. I heartily agree, esp. with library events - they ROCK!

I continue writing while promoting because I promote almost all year long, but, like you, have someone to manage my events. But I do block out certain months, usually the month before a book is due. Unless I'm travelling far and wide, I only take one weekend day for book events, leaving the other for writing, housework, connecting with folks and relaxation. It's my sanity day. I will book events during the work week, but only if they are easy to get to in after work traffic.

Everyone have fun at Bouchercon. Raise a glass for me!

Jess Lourey said...

You are The Juggernaut, Sue Ann!! An inspiration to us all.

Keith Raffel said...

Can't wait to discuss with you Thursday.

Cricket McRae said...

Great suggestions, Jess. Thanks for sharing!

See you soon ...

Julia Buckley said...

Jess, I'm glad you'll get to slow down now and have all the holidays with the family. You do an amazing job of juggling it all, and you are a role model for us all.

G.M. Malliet said...

Whole-heartedly agree about libraries.