Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Getting Ready to Tour

Keith here.

My nephew flew in yesterday to begin grad school at Stanford, and he and his roommate came over for dinner last night. The roommate is an aspiring novelist and was asking about life as a writer. All he wanted to hear was how great it was. Of course, a lot of it’s not. I tried to explain. What I love best of all, I told him, is writing the first draft of a book. Part of it’s the challenge, the climbing up the rock face. An even bigger part is the chance to lead a life, have an adventure, as another person in another universe. I’m addicted to the rush those two elements provide. (How do I know I’m addicted? Because of the post-partum depression I feel when the draft is completed.)

I then spent some time recounting what’s the downside: the editing, the waiting for comments, the research, the deciding on topics, the finding an agent, the waiting to hear back from publishers, and much more. Oh, yes, then there’s the publicity. Setting things up for publicizing a new book isn’t fun. But the results of that work, being out on tour, definitely is for me. Probably the high point of my writing experience was seeing a long line of readers waiting for me to sign Dot Dead, my first book, at Book Expo America. (That's me at BEA to the left. Margery Flax of MWA likes to tell people she was there when I lost my signing virginity.)

I love meeting readers and coming across what I’ll immodestly call fans, people who tell you that they can’t wait till your next book is out or who buy an armful to give away as holiday presents. It’s not all sweetness and light though. Five minutes before my event at Kepler’s last time, my dear friend Barbara was shaking with nerves because there were fewer than a dozen people. Three hundred seconds later another 50 had poured in. Saved from humiliation by the cavalry. At another bookstore no one showed except for my in-laws. I guess a little humiliation keeps one humble.

As far as my next book, Smasher, goes, the work part of the publicity is mostly complete. The tour is set and begins next month. I’m chomping at the bit. Cynthia at Kepler’s challenged me to a bet on how many people would show there on October 20. (Help! It will be expensive to both wallet and ego to lose.) I’m trying something different, too. For half the tour, I’ve joined forces with the wonderful Libby Fischer Hellmann, whose newest, Doubleback, is out next month, too.

C’mon out. It should be fun. Help me win a bet and stave off humiliation.

Click here for the schedule or on the link below.



Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I *love* the title of your book. That's got to be the best thriller title ever.

I'm not wild about signings. The ones with lots of people are great, but the others stink. I've got one this weekend--we'll see how it goes!

Mystery Writing is Murder

Paul Lamb said...

Good luck and best wishes with your tour.

So did you scare away the aspiring novelist, or did he walk away wiser and more determined?

Lisa Bork said...

Wow, Keith, that's a great signing schedule. Congrats and best of luck!

Alan Orloff said...

Sounds like you've got a very busy Fall planned. Best of luck with the tour!

I hope to see you when you appear on the East Coast leg!

G.M. Malliet said...

This is awesome. Break a leg!

Cricket McRae said...

Busy, busy! I remember your signing for Dot Dead in Seattle -- lots of people were there and you were a natural, engaging speaker. Looked like you were having a lot of fun, too. Best of luck with your upcoming appearances!

Keith Raffel said...

Elizabeth, fingers crossed. Paul, youth cannot be deterred from making their own mistakes, can they? Lisa, Paul, Alan, Gin, and Cricket, thanks for the good wishes. One can hope.