Bookstore events are the fantasy for many authors. The reality is, it’s getting harder and harder to find an audience. I’ve been advised by pros that book tours aren’t worth the effort. It’s unlikely that travel expenses would be covered by the profit of at-event sales, even if you get a good turnout. And getting a good turnout is iffy.

So why am I doing a book tour? Oh, stubbornness. And as a celebration. And, as an experiment. I think there’s value to be found in this, and I’m giving it a go. Our kids are homeschooled and my husband works from his laptop and phone, so what’s to stop us from having an adventure? We, with my mom along to help with the kids, are crossing the ocean and hitting the road for the entire month of June.

Over five weeks, we’ll visit 10 states: New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, Ohio, California (northern and southern), and Washington DC.

This is my strategy:

1) My six bookstore events are the pillars of the tour. I feel honored to have been accepted for events at these fantastic stores. It can be hard to get a bookstore’s attention; having my publicist involved really helped.

2) I purposely arranged only one “public event” per large area, in the hope of having one great event rather than a handful of sparsely attended ones.

3) I’ve lived in all these places, or otherwise have close ties. While I hope that my publicist will get media attention for the events, and that the bookstores have their own regular clientele who will come, I’m counting on myself to provide a core audience for each event.

4) In between these events, I’m meeting with book clubs and presenting at private book parties. I’m in the lucky position of having lived several different places in my adult life, and having friends from many different social circles. Even in the same area, different friends of mine have completely different invitation lists. I’m going to get to meet a lot of people.

My expenses are pretty low:

1) For all but one city, I’m staying with family/friends, not at hotels.

2) My husband travels so much for business that we had enough air miles for ALL of us–that’s five people, folks–to fly from England and then all over the US. Our only transit expense is car rental and gas.

3) We return home to the US at least once every year, so part of this is a “normal” expense for us. We don’t usually do a trip this broad or long, of course, but still: this isn’t an expense from out of nowhere.

The relatively low-cost of this trip makes a big difference when asking whether it’s “worth it.” Lastly, directly attributable sales are not the extent of a tour’s effect:

1) Booksellers who become more aware of my book because of my visit (whether event or drop-in) may put it in a better position up front and recommend it to customers.

2) My events may get media mentions, which expose my book even to people who don’t come to the event itself.

3) Some of the book clubs I’m meeting with will likely be small groups. But “book club people” tend to be the kind of people who recommend books to others and are likely to be vocal about books online.

4) Even before the tour begins, it been a great conversation-starter. I’ve been able to make contact with readers’ groups with an offer of “What can I do for you while I’m in town?” Some are interested and some aren’t, but I wouldn’t have felt comfortable making contact without something to offer, like visiting with their group of presenting at a private event, during the window that I’m in their area.

I’ll be reporting here on the effectiveness of the various events and what kinds of marketing/invitations/cold contacts were most successful.

This is where I’ll be! Join me 🙂 is a great resource for organizing author events. It will even automatically replicate the info onto your Amazon author page! This is my book tour page.

New Jersey:
Friday, June 04, 7:30 PM
Words, Maplewood’s Bookstore
179 Maplewood Avenue, Maplewood, NJ 07040
(Just a 40 minute train ride from Penn Station, New Yorkers!)

Tuesday, June 08, 5:00 PM (ETA: 5pm start, not 6pm)
The Learned Owl
204 N. Main Street, Hudson OH, 44236

Northern California:
Thursday, June 17, 7:00 PM (ETA: 7pm, not 7:30!)

Books Inc. in Mountain View
301 Castro St., Mountain View, CA, 94041

Southern California:
Tuesday, June 22, 7:00 PM
Vroman’s Bookstore
695 E. Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena, CA, 91101

New Hampshire:
Thursday, June 24, 7:00 PM
RiverRun Bookstore
20 Congress Street, Portsmouth, NH 03801
(This is the wee bit of New Hampshire, squeezed between Maine and Massachusetts, that touches the Atlantic. Only an hour north of Boston or an hour south of Portland!)

Rhode Island:
Friday, July 02, 4:00 PM
Other Tiger Bookstore
90 High Street, Westerly, RI, 02891
(This is the southwestern coastal corner of the state, right next to Mystic Connecticut. Providence and Hartford area and southern Massachusetts–this means you too!)

Let me know if you can come!
And if you have any funny book event stories for the comments, so much the better.