Book Tours – Survival of the Fittest

I’m Darlene’s assistant, Kathy Porter, and as Darlene explained in her last posting, I am going to do my best to keep up her Blog. Today, I thought I would give you a little background on how we put together Darlene’s book tour – without collectively having a nervous breakdown.

Although a book tour seems like a an easy task – get to the bookstore, talk to your readers, sign books and leave. Simple, right? Wrong!

Let’s start from the beginning; first you decide what cities are the best potential for a signing and where you have a fan base (where most of your books have sold). Darlene’s wonderfully, supportive husband, Jack, located the cities and made a list of bookstores in each city and the surrounding areas. The major cities were what I call “fly in” cities, but there were also cities where Darlene and Jack would drive through, such as while on route from Minneapolis to Chicago.

Several weeks prior to the actual tour these cities must be in place. Airlines, hotels, and rental cars need to be arranged. Here’s the hard part – each bookstore needs to be called. We needed to decide how many Meet & Greets or Book Signings in each area there is time for and contact CRM – Community Relations Managers, Events Managers, or Store Managers to arrange these events. Some stores are too small or unable due to space to accommodate an author event, however they are very open to stock signings. So make arrangements with them to order books ahead of your arrival so you can stop in and sign the books available in their stores. This gives your book signage as well as an “author signed” sticker on the cover of your books. These calls take time, several calls back and forth and of course sending press kits and review books if requested.

Once the bookstores are set, you need to get the cities, dates, bookstores and contacts on a calendar along with flights, hotels, car rentals and personal entertainment. In Darlene’s case this all needed to be sent to her publicist so they could schedule TV, radio and any author appearances they set up around this schedule. Sometimes, while scheduling a book tour/TV/radio/print ads/speaking engagement, we forget the  author’s needs for sleep and travel time – adjustments, shuffling and more adjustments.

So what’s the upside? You are in touch with your readers, booksellers, store managers, and in-store café workers who will remember you, and your book, and hopefully recommend it to more readers. This is a very exciting proposition since sometimes even with the best advanced coverage you will stand before empty chairs once in awhile. But if you do your best to impress the managers etc. you will find this could be one of the best stops on your tour.

Whether you’re working on booking your own book tour or helping someone else you need to coordinate with others and be prepared to sell, sell, sell, yourself or the author you represent. Be prepared with a great short explanation of the author’s book and some compelling reasons why, if they don’t have it in their store, they should.

When you’re working with an author like Darlene Quinn, you have the excitement of scheduling a talented, award winning, well spoken and charming author who handles any situation with ease and grace. If you are making arrangements for your own book tour – you have to believe in you and your work. If you believe in your book enough to attempt this grueling process – we believe in you too. Good luck!

~Kathy Porter

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