The Value of Creating Your Own Book Tour

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. Guest column by Rosemary Harris, Anthony and Agatha-Award nominated author of Pushing Up Daisies, The Big Dirt Nap, Dead Head andSlugfest.
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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.)

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Guest column by Rosemary Harris, Anthony and
Agatha-Award nominated author of Pushing Up
Daisies, The Big Dirt Nap, Dead Head and
Slugfest
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 media—I 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 followers—please 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 work—but 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 exceptional—and 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 program—for 3 people or 300.

Have these efforts made me a bestseller? I've made a few, small lists—not 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.)

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