Monday, October 23, 2006

Report from the Front Lines II

Today I sent out a call on my newsletter for more book tour tales, along the lines of Sally Nemeth's Virgin Voyage in Book Tour Land. Book Promotion 101 alum Micah Nathan, author of Gods of Aberdeen, immediately obliged with the assessment below.

Overall my tour was a blast. I had a couple very small (4 people) crowds, but even those were fun because I turned them into writing seminars. My Italian publisher flew me to Milan for a whirlwind press junket, and that rocked. The Europeans treat authors like celebs, even no-names like me. I was the David Hasselhoff of Italy...minus the chest hair, of course.

Once my book came off the shelves to make room for the next wave of hopefuls, I decided to start marketing myself to local colleges. (I live in Boston, so the choices are endless.) My approach: contact the college's creative writing club (usually they publish the college literary magazine), flash my credentials as a published author, and offer to speak for free in exchange for being allowed to hawk my books.

Thousands of books sold? Not quite, but a box at every gig, and a chance to remind myself why I got into this crazy career in the first place: connection with one's audience. I'll spend 2 hours lecturing, fielding questions, and riffing on the publishing world, and by the end I'll have sold my product without emphasizing the product itself. Because at those types of events, the author is the product. On the shelves, your book jacket is the voice. In person, it's all you.

I'm really into the public speaking thing so maybe that approach won't work for everyone. But it's so damn fun.
[Note: Micah is such an engaging and funny speaker, he could sell shoes to snakes.]

No horror stories I can think of, but at a signing in Buffalo a gentleman came to my table with a stack of about nine books and asked me to sign them. Great, except not one of the books was mine. Clancy, Grisham, etc.. I pointed this out and he said, "This is an author signing, right?" I couldn't argue with him, so I signed every one.

P.S. A more detailed account can be found at my Tour Blog.
[Ya gotta read about his interview with an Italian teen magazine. The New York Review of Books should ask such trenchant questions.]

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