Blog Highlights: What Happens on Book Tour, Stays on Book Tour
For the grand opening of this blog, I’m spotlighting some of my favorite blog posts and moments from over the years throughout the month of June.
Week Four: Marketing and Promotion
WHAT HAPPENS ON BOOK TOUR, STAYS ON BOOK TOUR
First posted on April 10, 2012
See the original post at: http://marissameyer.livejournal.com/278769.html
Except not really, because here I am writing a blog post about it! I just couldn’t resist the clever-yet-misleading blog post title.
I’ve been officially finished with my first book tour for almost two months now, so I figured it was high-time for me to let you all in on my experiences, before I forget about them! Like most authors, I went into the book tour experience with plenty of fantasies about what book tours were all about. Some of them proved to be very accurate; others, not so much.
Fantasy #1: I will be surrounded by book lovers and YA fans and I will win them all over with my zealous charm and I will sign a gazillion books and it will be awesome!
Assessment: Fairly True! People who come to book signings typically want to be won over, and many have already read the book and enjoyed it. Meeting so many book people was fantastic!
My event turn-outs ranged from 10 people to 125 people (the latter in Vancouver, B.C., and yes, I officially L-O-V-E Canada). Most of my events were in the 25-40 attendees range, which is amazing for a debut novel, and I was thrilled and flattered by every single person who took time out of their lives to come see me.
A typical signing would look like:
- Someone from the bookstore or library introduces me to the audience.
- I get up and talk for 10-15 minutes about my writing history/how I got the idea for Cinder/writing it and getting it published, etc.
- Sometimes I’d give a short reading, depending on the bookstore’s preference. (I personally HATE doing readings, so I would try to avoid it when possible. Yes, I realize I should probably get over that.)
- Q&A that lasted anywhere from 20-40 minutes.
- Signing! Books were available for sale at every event for people to buy, and I would often sign whatever stock was left also so the store could continue to hand-sell it.
My first-ever tour event! Joseph Beth Booksellers in Cincinnati.
Fantasy #2: I will have tons of FREE TIME in between signings and I will explore new cities and see cool sites and become a brilliant world traveler!
Assessment: Bwahahahaha, how quaint and adorable of Younger Me to think this.
Often, any “downtime” in between events was spent driving around to every bookstore in a 30-mile radius and meeting their staff and signing their stock. (Tip: Have plenty of pens and bookmarks handy!)
Sure, there is some real downtime between events, but it’s very little, and I was usually exhausted during those times. My husband and I (yes, I was lucky enough that my husband got to travel with me!) ordered room service many a-time during the tour, because we were too tired to even venture out to the hotel restaurant. (However, see also Fantasy #4.)
Because I was never sure when we’d be doing stock signings or how long they would take, I was never exactly sure when I would have free-time—it would just sneak up on me and I’d be looking at my itinerary and thinking, oh, wow, I have four whole hours with nothing to do right now! Which was usually too late to make plans or buy tickets to anything, so that time was normally spent just wandering around whatever town we were in. Which was lovely too, but not exactly “seeing the sights.”
Fantasy #3: School visits? What are school visits?
Assessment: School visits are things that you will get very good at because you do a lot of them. Even more than regular bookstore signings.
I had never heard an author talk about doing school visits, and I can’t remember authors ever coming to my schools growing up, so this was news to me. It turns out that on tour, children’s and YA authors go to a lot of schools. We give presentations. We answer questions. We become very adept at working around strange audience layouts and technology failures. We appreciate awesome teachers and librarians EVEN MORE than we did before.
When I learned that I would be giving school presentations, it was easily the most nervous-making part of the whole tour for me. Because if there is one audience that can be difficult to impress, it’s teenagers!
However, for me, the school visits became the most rewarding part of the tour. 95% of my visits were great, with the students being very curious and enthusiastic about my book and the life of a writer, and I almost always got a few laughs during my presentation. Afterwards, there was at least one student at every school who came up to me and confessed that they, too, want to be a writer and/or are working on a novel and/or write fanfiction. I <3 those students so much.
The two things I learned in doing the school visits, for authors who expect to be doing them in the future:
1) Have visuals. I used a picture-heavy PowerPoint Presentation, and followed with my book trailer when technology allowed. It gives the students something to look at and holds their attention.
2) Have giveaways for the Q&A part. It can sometimes be difficult to get the students started on asking questions because nobody wants to go first. So I started offering 3 signed bookmarks to the first 3 students to ask questions. After that, Q&A usually went very smoothly. I plan on putting together “swag grab bags” for future events, which I think will work even better.
My very first school visit! I eventually learned that if they laughed at my first Sailor Moon joke, the rest would go well. If not… it was going to be a long presentation. Luckily, this group laughed!
Fantasy #4: I shall be wined and dined and gain 8 pounds on all the amazingly delicious food!
Assessment: I’ve been told that this is a laughable fantasy for most authors, but… for me, it was kind of true. We went to lots of lunches and dinners and even a couple breakfasts with booksellers and librarians and bloggers. We were more-or-less treated like Very Important Guests. It was all very lovely!
However, there were those days when food wasn’t even factored into the schedule and you’d just have to grab a snack at whatever bookstore café you passed. Many of our media escorts (the people that drive authors around during tours) would also have snacks and bottled water on hand. So finding food never felt like an issue.
And that’s pretty much what my book tour was like! Any questions?