Selling it slowly: When a book tour might not be in the cards
I just read Benjamin Busch’s article in the Authors Guild Bulletin. The author of Dust to Dust (which I have on my reading list) talked about how he hit the road to promote his book. He’s right, authors are an integral part of the sales force and he’s right that connecting with readers in person is important.
Hitting the road to sell my book Death in the Baltic: The WWII Sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff sounds like a great idea, crisscrossing the country going from one bookstore to another. Of course in my fantasy the road trip would be The Trip: 2 and Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon would be in the car with me. We would pass the time trading witty jokes and doing impersonations. Maybe they’d do their ‘We Rise at Daybreak’ when we hit Gettysburg. Like I said, it’s a fantasy.
The reality is, as much as I would love to go on a 50 state tour with my book I can’t. Not because I don’t like to travel or I don’t like road trips. I love both. In fact we are going on a road trip with the kids in December, with planned stops in Jamestown, Monticello and Gettysburg. It’s not because I’m not interested in traveling to independent bookstores from here to there or meeting readers far and wide. And not because I think being on the road would interfere with my writing. If that were the case I’d have given up writing years ago.
No, I can’t take to the road when the book comes out in April because I’ll be in the midst of teaching journalism as well as leading a writing workshop in narrative nonfiction. More to the point, I can’t hit the road because I’ve got two school aged children. Every research trip I’ve ever taken requires extensive logistical planning; I’ve got to call in the support staff (my Mom) and make sure my husband’s call and operating schedule doesn’t conflict.
Still, Busch is right. In person library and store appearances are important. He’s also correct that authors are an integral part to successfully marketing and selling their book. So to that end I’m working along the precept of ‘Do what you can with what you have.’ It means trying new ideas like Togather.com where readers and writers can crowd source an event. It means smaller, targeted trips. It means scheduling talks and signings not just bookstores but at places where I know the audience is interested in the military, military history and all things maritime. I’ve begun scheduling talks locally as well as a little more far afield including the National Museum of US Navy, theNaval War College Museum, and the NJ Maritime Museum. Moreover, connecting through social media is paying off little by little; I’m slowly and steadily building my platform as a reader and a writer.
So a traditional book tour may not be in the cards, and Steve Coogan is probably never going to ride shotgun with me, but I can make writer-reader connections long before the book comes out.