Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Booking Book Tours

Hey peeps - just wanted to give a plug to my friend, Kristy Kiernan, whose book, Catching Genius, goes on sale next week!! Yahoo!! For more on the book, check out Larramie's Seize a Daisy blog this week.

I've had a lot of people write to ask if I'm doing a book tour, so I thought I'd pass along some info that I've gleaned about book tours.

It's interesting, just after the comment, "You have to get on Oprah!," (Well, gee, really??? Doesn't every author on the planet - save for one or two - want to get on Oprah?? Not as easy to do as people seem to think.), people say, "So, are you going on a tour?"

So here's the deal with book tours: publishing houses rarely pay for debut authors to go on tour. There are definitely exceptions, such as my fab friend, Laura Dave, but for the most part, the house isn't going to shell out money for an unproven author. Which actually makes a lot of sense to me. I mean, who is going to show up to buy a signed book from someone whom they've never heard of? And to further this point, how many of you guys would show up for a book signing of a random Joe Schmo? Actually, how many of you guys go to book signings period? See where I'm going with this? The numbers aren't high.

That said, debut authors often have signings in places where they know they can generate a decent crowd, and to that end, I am doing a small tour, albeit in cities where I have built-in connections. My publicist told me that bookstores really don't want to waste their time if you can wrangle 50 people to show, so that's our barometer. But the publisher doesn't pay for my travel, I do. I'm fortunate to be in a position where I can do this, but some authors can't, and so they don't. And truthfully, I don't really think this is a big ding in their promotional plans. The jury is out on if tours really bolster sales - a lot of authors and publicists don't think they do - so touring is really a question of how motivated you are. One way that a tour may help is that when an author visits a city, the publicist (if she's good) will alert all the media outlets and you might get a lot of coverage in the papers and such. I believe that this is how a few of my author friends hit bestseller lists in various cities that they visited.

So...how effective do you think touring is? And why is the tour-question so common?

3 comments:

Kristy said...

Thank you, Allison!! :-D Only a couple of days away now!

Mia King said...

I have heard over and over again that it isn't worth it to tour (at least not on your dime!). I hear this mostly from published authors who have been through the routine a few times. As a totally naive debut author with a marketing background, I do believe there are more productive ways to spend an afternoon drumming up publicity for your book, and a traditional book signing isn't it. Going after print media or a small radio satellite tour makes sense, or hosting a workshop where you can make some money and help people at the same time (ie I just did a publication workshop), but sitting behind a stack of books or tackling potential readers as they walk in the store does not. And then to go on "tour" and do it in several stores and several cities ... ugh. It's painful even thinking about it!

That being said, I did have my first signing last week in a coffee shop where they made scones from the recipe in the back of my book, and we had a blast. The store sold 25 books and this was with no publicity in our small town. I think if you can create an event around it that's creative and you have friends supporting you, it can be a lot of fun. If you're going to an unfamiliar city and an unfamilar bookstore and have a modest print run (10-20k), it's hard to say.

But I think the whole tour question is common because people equate that with publication success. If your publisher sends you on tour, they believe in you and your book.

Gosh, I guess I had an opinion about this after all!

Allison Winn Scotch said...

Mia-What wise insights. I agree with you 100%. Thanks for chiming in.