Friday, August 8, 2008

Oh, the fun places you'll go!

Last Friday's guest, author Michelle Gagnon, just wrote a funny post about her recent book tour over at the Kill Zone. Now that I'm preparing to launch my own book tour for A KILLER WORKOUT, which hits the bookstores on October 7th, I'm in the mood to anticipate and do a little neurotic worrying ahead of time:

. Yikes! Gas is nearly five dollars a gallon in LA! It puts a pricey pall on those long drives to Phoenix, Las Vegas and points north. If I wind up running out of gas and hitchhiking down a lonely stretch highway, don't worry--I won't climb into any pickup trucks or white panel vans.

Book signings. You just never know what to expect. Some bookstores promote your appearance and assemble people for a discussion--others stick you in the "gilded cage" to the side of the front entrance,where you basically collar anyone coming through the door with a pitch. Sitting quietly does not sell books, so I've developed a special smile and greeting that makes me feel like an airline stewardess. The funny thing I notice is that there are two types of people--those that engage with you easily, and those that avoid eye contact and actually do a flanking maneuver around my table to avoid interacting. The second group are the people who hate a hard sell. But they sometimes sneak back and shyly buy the book on their way out.

Bringing goodies
. I always bring cookies and water with me to hand out. I don't know if that helps me sell books, but I'm a hit with kids and homeless people.

Being a trooper
. I hate canceling things at the last minute. One time I was scheduled to do a signing, but I woke up that morning feeling sick, and getting sicker by the minute. Twenty minutes before the signing was supposed to start, I was sitting in the car with my husband, projectile vomiting into a plastic bag. The appearance went off flawlessly. I had a surge of adrenaline that magically suspended the illness for precisely one hour. The instant I got back into the car after the signing, I resumed vomiting, and continued do so, all the way to Urgent Care.

Maximizing family
connections. I combine book tours with as much family interaction as possible. Fortunately, I have family spread all over the east and southeast, so I can combine book stops with mini-reunions. My husband is used to chugging along in my wake, and he tries not to fall asleep as I give the same talk or sign books. I suspect this year, however, he may chug off in search of a golf course while I'm doing my book thing.

Being zen about what you can't control
. Things I can't control 1) the book retailing model, 2) the publishing business, 3) the fact that people who can't find my book in the bookstore, because they've sold out, wind up buying them at deep discounts online.

I just have to smile, show up, and keep on writing no matter what.

What about you? Are there any things you most like, dislike about pitching your book on the road?


Linda O. Johnston said...

I enjoy combining promotional events with personal ones, too--like attending the Printers Row Book Fair in Chicago a couple of months ago on the same weekend as my future daughter-in-law's bridal shower. Plus, I enjoy meeting people, especially those who actually know my books. Each event is an adventure, and I've learned the art of standing up in bookstores and getting people to say hi at signings... and, sometimes, buy books!

Camille Minichino said...

I just got in the door from a "sit and sign" at a local B&N, so I could relate to all!

One thing I do to draw people to the table: I take my mini knitting with me. I use very small (000) needles and thread, so it draws attention. AND even if they don't buy a book, I come home with a couple of mini afghans made!

I also have a digital frame that cycles photos of my scenes and that's another draw. The guys think it's a tv.

Sheila Connolly said...

Excellent advice!

A few small additions:

--If you're shy, get over it (I know, easier said than done). You're the star here. You're proud of what you've done, right?

--Combining events: if you don't have family in the neighborhood, is there any research you can do? Make each trip worthwhile in some way.

--Food: I feel guilty giving away (non-wrapped) food at bookstores, even though bookstores often include coffeeshops these says. I think (this is unproven to me) that giving people something is good, and they are pleased (and we hope they feel obligated?). But don't break the bank on cute but expensive giveaways.

And try to enjoy the process!

Kathryn Lilley said...

I'm with you, Linda--I love it when people buy books! Camille, I'll have to bribe people with food rather than wow 'em with craft, since I can't even sew on a button (grin). And Sheila, it may be my compulsive-eater brain, but it never occurred to me to feel guilty about handing out food goodies! Maybe I should just stick to handing out my refrigerator magnets, lol!

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

It really thrills me when I meet someone who has received my ezine, or read my books, and they thank me. That means all the world to me, really. It keeps me going. Whatever happens in between those visits pales when I meet a reader. I've been blessed with the loveliest, kindest, most thoughtful readers anyone can imagine.

Betty Hechtman said...

I have been combining any trip out of my basic area with a stop at a bookstore where I offer to sign books. So far, other than the stop at Printers Row in June, I haven't done an actual sit down book signing for Hooked on Murder. But I am definitely thinking about doing some for Dead Men Don't Crochet.