The Value of Creating Your Own Book Tour

On Book Touring: Nobody goes there anymore … it’s too crowded.

If you’re a New Yorker, you grow up with Yogi Berra-isms. They’re delivered in utero like collective memories, and this one has been coming back to me lately as I hear over and over again that authors “aren’t touring” because “it never pays for itself” and the publishers are only touring “bestselling authors who don’t need it.” I say hogwash. People are touring, they’re just defining it differently.

Rosemary is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within one week; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Update: Brittni won.)


Guest column by Rosemary Harris, Anthony and
Agatha-Award nominated author of Pushing Up
Daisies, The Big Dirt Nap, Dead Head and
featuring amateur sleuth Paula Holliday. Her books
have been called “Hilarious” (Kirkus), “a nifty
puzzle” (Publishers Weekly) and “a perfect
summer read” (NPR). Check out her tour 
schedule at her website.


It’s become fashionable to say that blog tours make so much more sense “and I can do it in my jammies!” You won’t hear me say I don’t engage in social mediaI blog with a group of very talented writers, I’ve got two pages on Facebook, a fan and a personal, and I’ve recently crossed the Rubicon into Twitterland where I have an embarrassingly low number of followersplease follow me. Still, I guess I’m old school. I want to meet booksellers, librarians and readers in the flesh, particularly if I’ve met them already online. Few things match a face-to-face meeting for generating that all-important word-of-mouth.

A recent survey conducted for Sisters in Crime revealed that word-of-mouth and personal recommendations were still the biggest motivations to purchase books and although I can Meet, Friend and Like as many people as I want to online, it’s the ones I’ve met in person who have been the strongest advocates for my work.

And where do I meet most of them? At shows and conferences. If the book tour used to mean the red carpet treatment and jetting from one glamorous destination to another with cases of perfectly chilled Perrier at your disposal, (sadly before my time) for some, it now means Columbus, OH for RT Booklovers Convention; New Orleans for American Library Association; Oakmont, PA for the Festival of Mystery; and other stops that might not have previously been on anyone’s whistle-stop campaign but are increasingly important as up-and-coming and midlist authors work to get the word out about their books. If the people don’t know you well enough to come out for you, then you’ve got to go where the people are.

In the past three years, I’ve been to all of these events plus the Connecticut Flower and Garden Show, the Collingswood, Decatur, Empire State and Philadelphia Book Festivals, as well as The Big E (a five state fair in MA). I’ve even gone to something called the Submarine Festival in Groton, CT. All right, that one didn’t workbut all the others have, and I’ve sold more books at these venues than I ever have at a chain store or most indies with the exceptions of Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale, AZ, Aunt Agatha’s in Ann Arbor, MI and Mystery Lovers Bookshop in Oakmont, PA, but those retailers are exceptionaland they are few and far between. Which is not to say that other retailers aren’t good at what they do, they’re just not in the business of making me famous. That’s my job.

I’ve also met a number of influential bloggers at these events, Jen Forbus, Molly Weston and Kaye Barley to name a few and while their stock in trade is the Internet, meeting and getting to know them in person has been invaluable.

The logistics may take some time, but I’ll also go to virtually any library that invites me. If a librarian is interested enough to ask for me that’s the same as having a friend in town who will chat up my book and I will do my best to go and provide an entertaining programfor 3 people or 300.

Have these efforts made me a bestseller? I’ve made a few, small listsnot the NYTimes yet, but I’m working on it. And it beats sitting around complaining about what my publisher isn’t doing for me or whining that someone else is getting more press than I am. And … it did get me this column, didn’t it?

Rosemary is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within one week; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Update: Brittni won.)

Confused as to what a query or synopsis
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17 thoughts on “The Value of Creating Your Own Book Tour

  1. Ardent Muse

    Well… seems just like Tupperware, the best way to sell your product is (STILL) word of mouth! Interesting, considering the ever-expanding frontier of social media has cycloned us into a playing field of virtual reality for just about anything and everything we do these days ~ not knockin’ it,..I plan to use it vigorously myself! But that does say something about Readers & Writers, I think ~ We’re an old-fashioned, hands-on breed that still enjoys human interaction & the physical contact of holding a book or Newspaper in our hands vs. the glare of an electronic device to obtain information & entertainment. I suppose like any other form of celebrity, the fans DO want to meet and observe their favorite authors in person- see what they’re like, how they interact, ask them questions, and put a human face to the mind that created such a memorable & impactful journey for them. But then again, for someone shy like me, I (prefer to) communicate with people through my words & thoughts alone – seems purer that way.. mind 2 mind… no distractions in between to adulterate the message. But in the end, looks like “by way of Tupperware” is the Way To Share! Thanks for the Tip! 😀

  2. Rebecca Ivester

    Thanks for the good advice! Today I visited a wonderful coffee shop bookstore, Orchard Booksellers, in Smithfield, NC. I told them I’d do a book signing once I was published. They were welcoming and had a great selection of books. Meeting them in person was better than their Yelp! review. It sounds as if you recommend hitting the local fairs, conferences and markets as well. Hmmmm….farmers markets…

  3. Barbara Allen

    Hooray for old school! I tweet, blog and have a wonderful time online but nothing is better than the real world. I like your approach, Rosemary…and the cover art for Slugfest. Something sinister is afoot in the garden. You’ve got my attention!

  4. Marie Boomer

    I know I really like to meet an author in person even if it’s only to shake hands and have a few words. I love the contact I have with writers through twitter. I can connect to a writer in a more personal way (as long as I have their attention and become a regular). Having said that, I am now following Rosemary on Twitter and look forward to having a chance for an interaction!

  5. Lydia

    I really like the cover visual for Slugfest — very cool. 🙂 I did try to follow the Twitter link but the link is bargled up in some way. Maybe the webmaster could fix it, or you could just sling us your Twitter username. 🙂

  6. Andrea Pawley

    thanks for the inspiration! it’s great to be reminded that there are so many ways to make publication work. your book looks great. i can’t wait to read it!

  7. elizabeth park

    Thanks for the insight about the personal touch, the human connection. When I meet authors in person, I’m usually much more excited about their work. Thanks again! Elizabeth

  8. Rachel Simeone

    Thanks for this excellent article Rosemary! My experience is the same for the authors that I work with. I generally suggest that authors focus on becoming bestsellers in their immediate areas, then their state and finally to branch out from there. This can keep travel costs down as the new author builds traction and sales.

    Blogging, Facebook and Twitter are great tools for connecting with more far flung readers and for allowing authors to easily set up meeting with their readers when they travel.

    Rachel Simeone
    Book Marketing Coach

  9. Rosemary Harris

    Hi all,
    Thanks for commenting. Actually, I love the "where do you get your ideas from?" question – as well as all the others from fledgling writers. As someone who very recently was in the same boat, I’m happy to cut short someone’s learning curve whenever I can. Last night at an event a gentleman that I could have sworn was sleeping asked the first quetion and it was a great one. What a nice surprise!

  10. Jeff

    Great stuff! Thanks for sharing this! I LOVE when an author comes to a bookstore nearby and presses palms with the readers. If you’re a guy like Stephen King, I can see how logistically that might be straining… but I have tremendous respect for the hard-working writer who makes the effort to be amongst the people. I’m sure you can only answer "Where do you get your ideas from" only so many times without wanting to throw something… but the personal touch does make the difference.

  11. Kate

    Thanks for being an author who’s willing to be "among us." I agree with Brittni…I love meeting authors and am much more likely to buy their book as a gift or to suggest it to friends. And as a hopeful author myself, I appreciate your wisdom and tips!

  12. Brittni Kayne

    Thanks for the tips! It makes sense that people are more willing to promote an author they’ve met in person, because when you come face to face with the writer of a book, you learn about who they are. I’m much more likely to say "You should check out Rosemary’s book, I’ve met her and she’s super cool!" than I am to mention someone I’ve only seen on the web. Personal contacts definitely go a long way.

  13. Aimee M. Sims

    Greetings from NuWine Press The All-Inclusive and LGBT-Affirming Voice of Independent Christian Publishing. We’re about to release our first book and fully intend to take advantage of "blog touring" and in person events. The poets in our book (a collection of writings from LGBT people of faith and friends) are from across the country, (and the world) and we’re hoping to meet with and host readings in all of their communities. Thanks for the tips. There is nothing like face to face interaction.


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