|Me, chatting with a fan before a reading.|
Friday, January 4, 2013
Arranging Your Own Book Tour
Authors' book tours, at least those sponsored by publishing houses, have become a relic of the past, along with fountain pens, white-out and the proper use of the word “issue.” It is a pity, because there really is no substitute for seeing and hearing an author read from his or her own work. For authors, it is even more of a pity, because meeting people who have enjoyed our work is a real thrill. Webinars, virtual tours, blogs, and all the rest of the vast sea of vicarious contact in which we frequently find ourselves floundering simply do not compare to the shining eyes of a fan.
When my first middle reader novel was published, I knew there would be no tour. So, I scheduled one myself. I did book signings at bookstores, fundraisers, and various book events across the Northeast. I did readings at libraries, schools, and restaurants. I gave talks in public schools. There was no venue too small. On the whole, it was a tiring, time-consuming experience, and I reached very few people in comparison to a single well-placed ad.
And it was well worth it.
Book events draw a select crowd. These are people who love you. You cannot survive without them. They will buy your books, and what is even more important, they will visit your website and blog. They will “like” your Facebook page and send it to everyone they know. The teachers at schools you give presentations to will recommend your book as summer reading. Libraries will put your book in a prominent place. Bookstore owners will display your book in their windows. And each and every event you hold will appear in the local paper, often with a photo. Even if nobody comes (and that never happens), you've achieved a media presence just by holding an author event.
You can post all of these events on your website and Facebook page, accompanied by pictures and testimonials. (Ask for these!) These events are now part of your platform. And if you bring a sign-up sheet to get email addresses of those who attend your events, you can add them to your contact list.
How do you arrange your own book tour? If your book is released in print, call all of the bookstores within a two hour's drive from your home (or as far as you are willing to travel). Offer to do a free reading at their store, as a local author. The owner/s will want to see a press kit, so make sure you have one ready. Let them know how they may order the book. Then arrange a time. Alert the local media.
If you have written a children's or YA book, even an electronic one, contact all the local schools. English teachers will be especially interested, so find out who they are and offer to give a free presentation about the process of writing to their classes. If your books are for an older audience, contact the appropriate instructors and professors at local colleges and universities. (Prepare your lecture before you contact them.)
You can also offer to give a free lecture at any institution that is connected with your book's topic. Fundraisers for local charities (especially around Christmas) and public radio drives are great venues. If you participate in a book signing for a public radio drive, your name will be mentioned on the airwaves.
Best of all, if you hold an event, or are invited to one, people will remember you. And that is the definition of fame.