Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Successful Book Tour

I know there are authors who feel like book signings in stores are a waste of time. There are just as many that swear by them.

Malcolm Jones in _Newsweek_ said that touring is "as much about selling the author as the book." He also said that a successful tour is "still more about chutzpah and glamour than literature." I think that's true. You have to sell yourself as well as each particular book.

I also think it's true that it's easier to do if you're a big-time author with a big publisher and a well-paid publicist. But most of us are not only the writer, we're also the editor, the publicist, the tour bus driver, and everything else. We couldn't afford to pay someone to do all that we do!

A writer has to have more than chutzpah to sell books. He (or she) has to be organized and relentless. And he has to be frugal -- most of us don't have the $2,000 a day that publishers estimate it costs to send an author on tour.

First of all, target your audience. This means going to the cities that will net you the most sales. Certainly, visit all your local stores. You're going to sell best there. Do some research and find out which stores elsewhere have a record of good sales. Big independents in cities like Denver, Seattle, and St. Paul are known for their author promotions. They're not the only cities or the only stores that have good track records, though. Decide where you're going and target the stores on your route. Targeting your audience also means aiming your promotional time and money on the people most likely to buy your book. If your book takes place in an officers' club, then why not sign at stores close to military bases? If your book involves a librarian, then make sure press releases and posters go to close-by libraries.

Next Thursday, Step 2.

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