Blogger: Wendy Lawton
I just returned from accompanying one of my clients, Lauraine Snelling, on her five-state, twelve-day FaithWords Wake the Dawn book tour. Several times I was asked by book store events coordinators or librarians if most authors traveled with their agents. No, I’d answer, most agents couldn’t possibly go with each of their touring clients. But I have to say, I’m so glad I went. For me it was a refresher course in building readership.
Since the day after Labor Day is the traditional back-to-school day all across the country, let me spell out some of the things I learned or some of the things that were refreshed for me on this trip:
- A successful tour is always a partnership between the author’s effort, the publisher’s work and the preparation and publicity done by the event location. One store we visited did little to publicize the event but they were bolstered by the publicity the author did on their behalf. All those who came had heard about it through the author’s publicity. The stores and libraries that were standing room only happened because of work on all fronts.
- Libraries were the big surprise for us on this tour. Those libraries that are gathering places for their communities blew us away with what they were able to accomplish. The library in Detroit Lakes, MN ended up with close to 150 readers. Every chair was filled and the bookstore that had been enlisted to sell books sold nearly every book they brought. The friends of the library made traditional Norwegian food–rosettes and lefsa, along with fruit trays, punch and coffee. The head librarian, Mary Haney, had been on radio and television for the week preceding the visit and filmed an interview with Lauraine to air post-visit.
- Speaking of libraries, I am more convinced than ever that more of our energy needs to be poured into marketing to libraries. They are the ones who build loyal readers for us. Check out our own Library Insider-- a proven way to market to libraries. Lauraine did a Library Insider mailing before this trip and had email after email from librarians throughout the whole time on the road. This is a place to invest some time and energy. I loved what I saw happening in libraries.
- Don’t give up on big box stores. The biggest event of the tour happened the last night at a Barnes & Noble in Fargo, ND. More than 200 readers showed up. It was probably closer to 300 because they ran out of chairs and people crowded each side aisle as well. It took Lauraine well past closing time to sign all the books. The store sold out of many of the books.
- Was it worth it for me to take two weeks away from my desk, fly to Detroit and then drive 2000 miles before flying home again? Yes! Besides the fact that I was able to have a meal with four other clients along the way, stop at two publishing houses and spend time with some of the smartest retailers and librarians in the book world, the tour provided me with much time to analyze the books on the shelves and wander through the stacks at the libraries. There is no better way to get an overview of our industry.
- What about book tours? Are they still viable? Yes, but only for authors with a solid reader base. The author has to be able to bring readers into the events. Very few publishers are doing book tours because they are costly, time-consuming to set up and very often don’t net results. But when the author is well-loved, articulate and already has a large reader base, there is nothing better.
- Lauraine worked hard on this tour, speaking for forty minutes at each event, answering questions and signing books until every last reader had a chance to speak with her. But as Lauraine said, Faith Words put their promotional dollars behind the tour. Her part was to connect with the readers. Besides, she loves this.
- Lest you think it all glamor, picture changing hotels each day and lugging suitcases in and out of the car at each stop. *GROAN*
- Well, I’m still tired from this grueling trip but. . . ask away. What would you like to know about author tours?
Are book tours still a viable way to promote a new release? Click to Tweet
Five states and 2000 miles driven– what I learned about book tours. Click to Tweet
On the road again. Are book tours worth the time and cost? Click to Tweet