Fear in Writing: Book Touring

Today in Literary History

Today in Literary History...December 14, 1907: Rudyard Kipling receives the Nobel prize for literature, the first English-language writer to do so.ud

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Book Touring

No stranger to most of you, L. Diane Wolfe joins Southern City Mysteries today.  She is an accomplished author and speaker, and draws on those talents to help us all with something that can be a little frightening: the book tour.  Have your pencil handy and enjoy.

Thank you for inviting me to share with your readers today, Michele!

Book tour. For some, that’s a scary word!

However, done correctly and with the right preparations and attitude, it can be a blast!

There are two ways to do a book tour - physical and virtual.

In the past six years, I have made about 300 appearances in bookstores, libraries and other locations. And there’s a lot a learned along the way! For those about to embark on a physical tour, let me provide these tips:

· Sharpen your people skills. This is a must! Learn the proper way to communicate. You don’t have to be a dynamo - just friendly and approachable.
· Make a list of all potential locations.
· Call the store or library and ask what they require in order to consider you for an appearance. Some will set a date right then and there. Others will request information, so be sure to have promotional information such as a sell sheet, author bio, and bookmark ready to send. (Call first before sending information, as it often doesn’t reach the decision maker the first time.)
· Send the business promotional materials such as flyers, posters and bookmarks - at least a month in advance.
· Contact local media and organizations. Post your appearance online and in event listings. Send out invites to all local contacts.
· Call two weeks in advance to confirm! (Nothing worse than showing up and find they forgot you were coming!)
· The day of your appearance, arrive early! Bring extra books just in case. Bring a table display and material to hand out. Introduce yourself to the staff.
· During your appearance - don’t sit! Roam. Meet and greet. Hand out bookmarks to everyone that passes. Engage in conversations. People need to get to know you first! Bring a small camera and take pictures of your display, the staff, and those who purchase your book.
· After the signing, offer to sign a few copies and leave more bookmarks. Once you are home, hand write a thank you card to the manager or owner. So many forget this important step!
· Ultimately, even if you didn’t sell a lot of books, if you were fun and engaging, the staff will remember and be more likely to invite you to return.

I’ve also participated in five virtual tours - with another big one planned this March! Virtual tours are a great way to compliment a physical tour. And for those uncomfortable appearing in public, it’s a good alternative.

Tips for a successful virtual tour:
· Get involved online. (That’s why it’s called networking!) You can’t just throw up a blog or Facebook page - interact with others and build a following.
· Plan ahead - months ahead! Many websites book author appearances as much as six months in advance.
· Consider all options - websites, blogs, and social sites. Make a list of potential sites.
· Send an email requesting a virtual stop. Let the site owner know about you, your book, and if you’re willing to do a guest post, interview, book giveaway, or can supply a review copy. (Or your publisher can.) Let them know the dates you are available. Let them know what you will do to promote the tour.
· One to three weeks before your appearance, send them the information - short bio, book synopsis and information, guest post/article/interview, jpg image of book cover and your promo pic, and all important web links. If you have reviews, include short blurbs as well. Better to send too much (letting them know to use only what they need) is better than not sending enough.
· Promote your tour dates! On your website, blog, journal, newsletter, etc.
· The day of your guest appearance, participate! It’s a two-way street. You are relying on the host’s readership and they are relying on yours. Encourage friends and fans to participate. Check in several times during the day to respond to comments and questions.
· Just as with physical signings, be sure to thank your host!

These are just the basics, but it gives you an idea of the commitment, involvement, and work required. You will get tired - even if you’re sitting at home in front of your computer! But the rewards are tremendous. You’ll gain readers, friends, and experience. You’ll grow as a writer and as a person! You’ll help and inspire others. And hopefully along the way, you’ll sell some books!

- L. Diane Wolfe, Professional Speaker & Author
Thank you, Diane, for all of this information.  Those of us working on novels will stow it away for future use.  Those of us embarking on tours--you can't say you weren't informed!

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  1. Thanks again for the opportunity to share, Michele!

  2. These are some great tips, Diane!

    You've done a lot more touring than I have. I'm going to print out your helpful hints. Thanks!

    Mystery Writing is Murder
    Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen

  3. Awesome tips, thank Diane.

    I think the physical tours sound less intimidating that virtual tours. I need to really get computer savvy.

  4. That's some good stuff there. I've bookmarked this post for future reference.

    Thank you Diane!

  5. Virtual tours are new to many people, and somewhat surprising in their success. I trust the recommendations of my blogging friends much more than a write-up in a newspaper. You all READ books, not just get paid to review them! I highly recommend book tours and will be glad to host any of you when you embark on one.

    Thank you, Diane, for these wise words. I certainly enjoyed the book signing I attended, and would enjoy one of yours!

  6. Yes, I am a road warrior! Don't do as many bookstores as I used to do because it's simply not as lucrative. I enjoy doing both online and offline appearances, though.

    Glad everyone found this useful!
    And don't be scared, Alex!

  7. Diane- I have heard writers say they have sat in the front of empty rooms. And I have heard others speak of standing room only. What has been your experience? Both? Or do you only go to events you know will be attended?


  8. LOL! That's why I don't like library events as much - there's a much better chance you'll be facing an empty room.
    I have people come specifically to see me, but I'm just as focused on the foot traffic and acquiring new fans.
    And we only went to events we knew would draw a crowd, we wouldn't get out much!

  9. This is fantastic information! I haven't seen much about this topic and loved reading about it. Thanks, ladies! :-)

  10. Great post Diane. From the standpoint of a journalist, you have given authors some very valuable information that will assist them in getting must better press when they are doing a physical book tour, as well as a virtual one. This information will help the press provide much better coverage for the tour.

  11. Wow - what a ton of super information! Great advice :)

  12. Excellent info for my "someday" plans. Fantastic advice. Thank you!

  13. Anyone planning any book tours? Virtual or real world?

  14. Can't wait to plan my book tour....many years from now, I'm sure. LOL :0)

    Great advice! I've definitely kept this one starred for future reference

  15. Thanks, everyone! I really condensed the info, too. (I have a full article on store signings on my website.) But I was worried it was too brief!

    Thank you again, Michele!

  16. Thanks for hosting Diane. She always has great advice.