Yesterday, we talked about targeting your audience when you’re out on a book tour. Today, we discuss Planning.
Plan ahead. Don't just show up and hope for the best. Send out your own press releases. Work with the store's CRC (Community Relations Coordinator), either in person or via the phone. Send the CRC an advance copy of your book. Store clerks can do amazing things hand-selling your book, but they're more likely to do that if they've read it. Make sure there will be copies of your book available to sign and sell (yes, I've seen signings where the author showed up, but no books did). If the store will provide a big poster of your cover with information about the signing to promote the event, as well as to stand close by during the signing, that's great. If not, make your own or prepare something else to pull in buyers -- something that will draw over people who might otherwise avoid the scary-looking person sitting at the table (you). But check with the store to make sure it’s okay. (Some stores may not want you handy out candy to kids who then handle books with their sticky hands, for example.)
Some authors, when possible, visit the store a week or so ahead of time. They introduce themselves to the CRC and leave bookmarks or postcards that can be put in customers' sacks.
Also, Ray Bard with Bard Press recommends that you give all the information about your tour to your sales rep. It'll help her promote your book when she goes to bookstores to sell it.
As part of this "plan ahead," consider teaming up with other authors. Find others who have books coming out about the same time as yours and go together. That not only saves time and money, it can be a good gimmick to help with promotions and convince stores to book your event. Look for authors who have a common theme, either via genre or time frame or setting or whatever.
Once you know your schedule, try to set up radio and/or television interviews to coincide. Send newsworthy press releases to local papers with a release date that converges with the day or week you'll be in town. Work with the bookstores to get invitations and announcements sent out.
Book tours are a lot of work - and take a chunk of money. To make them profitable isn’t easy.
3 months ago