Julia Spencer-Fleming, filling in for Jeff
I have a new book coming out November 5th. I want to get that out there up front, because let's face it; that's the purpose of the Blog Tour. You pester your friends for a spot on Monday (or Wednesday, or Friday) and attempt to write three to five hundred words so charming, so compelling, that the reader is seized with an irresistable urge to abandon their reading (and Tweeting and the work on that file the boss wants by noon) in order to whip out the old credit card and order the book right now!
How am I doing so far? Any of you reaching for your wallet?
In the category of Things the Author Does to Sell Books, however, the blog tour isn't even close to the dreaded Book Tour. Dear readers, a caveat here: when I say "Book Tour Terror," I'm not talking about you. Meeting readers is actually energizing and delightful. It's all the other stuff that can make the book tour feel like a person who thought she was signing up for a 5K fun walk and discovers instead she's enrolled in an ultramarathon. Some of the highlights:
Most business travellers go from point A to B and back again. The author on tour, however, goes from point A to B to C to D, back to A and then out to F two days later. The TSA finds this string of one-way tickets intensely interesting, and the author will become very familiar with "assuming the position." Don't pack anything embarassing in your carry-on luggage.
Speaking of which, don't think about checking your bag. I once flew into a conference wearing comfy clothes of the "who cares what I look like?" variety. Of course, the airline lost my luggage. I had to do two days of panels and teaching wearing stretched out leggings and a leopard-print sweatshirt. Never again.
It doesn't matter how well-known you think you are, or how many New York Times bestsellers you have under your belt, at some point you will be stymied by a sales clerk who has never heard of you. You will stand there as he (they always seem to be very young men in this scenario) slolwly sounds out your name. "I don't think we've got any of your books," he'll say. Since your publisher has cut a deal with the head office and all 300 stores are supposed to have you on the New Fiction aisle, this is very bad. You go to the New Fiction aisle, and indeed, you are not there. "I have to go check with my manager." The author will be left standing around, trying to look nonchalant while wondering if her entire print run is in a box beneath the table in the breakroom.
The author will get significant numbers of people at some events. This is to put you off your guard. Rest assured, at some point in the tour, you will show up at a bookstore that has sent out newsletters, emails, postcards, and run a story about your appearance in the local paper. Three people will show up, and one of them will be the guy who comes to every author talk for the free wine and cheese cubes. Another will be the bookstore owner's mother.
The author on tour goes to beautiful, historic, interesting places: LA, Denver, Nashville, Chicago. While there, the author will see the airport, five bookstores, a library and the hotel. When you come home, your spouse asks, "Did you try some [delicious local must-try specialty]?" No, the author had room service chicken caesar every night and ate it while staring mindlessly at Say Yes to the Dress.
The author will take Airborne, eat vitamins, guzzle water, and squirt hand sanitizer throughout the tour. She will still come down with a miserable cold as soon as she's gotten home and unpacked.
Obviously, you should all come out to see me when I'm on book tour, unless,of course, the blog tour has convinced you to rush out and order THROUGH THE EVIL DAYS, in which case you can just stay in your comfortable, germ-free home and have a nice evening's read. Remember, there are other mysteries coming out on November 5th from authors whose first name begins with 'J', so double check to make sure you're getting the right one.
Julia Spencer-Fleming's New York Times bestselling books have won multiple awards, including the Anthony and Agatha, and have been Edgar and RT Reader's Choice nominees. The next Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne novel, Through the Evil Days, comes out on November 5th. You can find Julia at her website, her readerSpace, on Facebook and on Twitter as @jspencerfleming. She also blogs with the Jungle Red Writers.