Monday, January 19, 2009

Book tours, 3

(Book tours 2 is right below this post.)

I just remembered another important point, which is that even when publishers pay for a book tour, that tour may still be expensive--sometimes frighteningly and unexpectedly so--for the author. There have been a couple of times when I had to think seriously about whether or not I could afford to do a tour even though my publisher would pay for it.

Some authors are presented with a corporate credit card, which is ideal. I've never had that, and I suspect most of us don't. If you aren't given a card with a preset limit, you will be told to pay for some expenses out of your own pocket and then bill the publisher afterward. This is not a good thing for writers who are not rich! I've had to pay for. . .shuttle to and from KCI, which with tip is about $40 or so each way; meals outside of the hotels; airport parking for my own car; taxi fares--which can be $50 or more if you have to take them to or from airports, for instance. In fact, count on paying for every taxi ride out of your own pocket, and be sure to get that receipt. Also make a note every time you pay a bellman or a hotel maid. (You do leave tips for hotel maids, don't you? Of course you do.) If you eat outside of the hotel, you will pay for it, so get those receipts, too. (I've gotten around that by eating only in hotels, which works as long as the hotel restaurant is open.) There are other expenses for which you will not be reimbursed--such as, for instance, anything you need to buy in order to do the tour--a new outfit, for instance, a haircut, new shoes, clothes for going to places where the weather is far different from yours at home, etc. If you have pets, there will be that expense. You may have extra childcare expenses. The last time I went on a national tour I had to pay for two weeks care for two dogs and two cats. Expensive! This is no big deal if your bank account is heavy with cash, but how many writers--especially those with no outside source of income-- have that much elastic in their budgets?

What I'd advise is that if you can possibly budget in advance, that would be a good idea. It's scary to be confronted by a call for your credit card when you may not have enough to cover the bill, or to suddenly need to take a taxi when you didn't expect it

What expenses have I forgotten?


FARfetched said...

Spent the entire afternoon going every-which-way.

Question from the #2 post: you said «and sometimes you think book tours are the stupidest idea ever invented to take time away from your writing.» — I think if I were sitting in your hotel room, all by my lonesome, I'd have room service send up a few beers & a pad of paper and get at it. Is the touring and speaking non-conducive to getting any work done? [I guess that my attitude is that since I'm doing all my fiction in spare moments anyway, this is just one more spare moment… perhaps if I do it full-time I'd have a different attitude?]

Pet sitting's a problem? The spousal unit can't do it? Or Katiebird? [evil grin]

FARfetched said...

Oops, nearly forgot to pick up Bono's question from a couple posts back. Still Winter #3 here, but it blows outta here on Friday and Spring #3 drops in for an undetermined amount of time.

Nancy P said...

Far, I seriously think you might be able to tour and write at the same time. I've learned I can't, 'cause I'm a wimp!

AndiF said...

You forgot that no matter what else they do, they never, ever send you to the mystery store in Carmel, Indiana so I can come be an adoring fan. :(

Happy Inauguration Day! Buh-bye Bush!!

Morning all.

Lisa M said...

Morning All.

INTERESTING info, Nancy.

I've pledged to write 15 minutes before work and got my time in this morning. woohoo.
Doesn't sound like much, but now I have editing thoughts I can put into action later today.

Happy Inauguration Day!!!

Terrific Tuesday to All. said...

From Book Tour 2.

4. The publicist sends you the schedule, which will change week by week and even up to and including the day you leave.

Nancy, I had two publicity add-ons by cell phone during my last tour. One was an hour-long interview with a newspaper while I was parked behind a burger king. Another was a TV interview (okay, you know, 5 mins at the end of the news - no biggie).

I carry a case of books in my rental car (I am regional and will NOT fly) with publisher invoices. I also like driving around the SE and finding places to eat, go shopping, haunt antique stores, etc.

On my way to Alabama, the bookstore I had been to in Vicksburg Mississippi got me on the cell phone and asked me to drive back and bring them some more books. They had sold out and she had five orders for signed copies.

I thought this was funny. I felt so parental, explaining the impossibility of my fulfilling the request and expressing my sadness over same. Once I was home the pub and I took quick care of the situation and I sent the shop a couple signed hardcovers (free) of one of my titles that is now only in pb. I bought out the hardcovers of this book on my own before they could be remaindered and it has been one of the best little investments I have ever made.

I also had a couple scheduled cell-phone interviews, again, during the tour. This is the first time this has happened to me. I don't know why the newspapers couldn't interview me before the tour, but that's the way it was set up. I just pulled over on the road (once at a rest stop) at a scheuled time and waited for my cell to ring.

P.S. The duds hurt. But I love book tour time. I change personalities and hit the road and just love getting away from my other life for a week or two or so.

Nancy, ever notice how at box stores, the person who arranges the signing is never working at the time of the signing they scheduled?

And, Nancy, if I hadn't been book in the big box stores, I would never have known that cities across the country had spent the last few years building "fake towns" of shopping outlets instead of malls. These are rather incredible edifices of commerce. said...

What expenses have I forgotten?

Inside their house,the publisher of my last couple of books has a contest for strangest book-tour reimbursement requests submitted by authors.

Things they have refused to reimburse include pay-for adult movies on a hotel tab, foot powder, mouth wash, etc. They do cover a couple drinks if you want them with dinner, though.

On a short tour a few years ago, I stopped by a tattoo/piercing salon and paid them $5 for a dummy receipt which I included with my remibursement paperwork. They didn't include this in their contest, though, because... well, they know me to well and realized it was a joke (or so they said).

While staying in a hotel outside Myrtle Beach where I had a morning and night booking and was able to stay two nights because my next drive was a few hours to an afternoon gig, there was a knock on my hotel door.

It was a guy with a cart who asked if I wanted a change of towels. I told him no, that I was staying in the room alone. The eighteen towels the hotle provided was enough.

Ten minutes later my phone rang, no kidding, and it was a woman who said "I understand you are interested in a female companion this evening." It was an escort service. I was taken by surprise and said they had the wrong room.

I should have said yes -- just to get the reciept, of course. Do they give receipts? Anyway, if anyone is ever interested in such things, it's the towel guy you need to talk to.

Nancy P said...

lol, ghost! Too funny!

I once sent in a receipt for a manicure. . .and they paid it. I figured, hey, I never get manicures and I'm only doing it so I won't humiliate my publisher when I sign books. Heh. I asked for pet care reimbursement once, too. Of course they thought I was out of my mind, and no doubt the publicist is still dining out on it, but I was so broke at the time, it was worth it just to try.

When I wrote my posts I totally forgot how cell phones might be changing things, even since my last publisher-tour which was, I think, two years ago.

Thanks for the info and stories! said...

It's a matter of shelf space. Which is for sale! An author's visit does not pay for more that a couple of day's worth. Therefore: let's find a better way!

I.J. Parker, it's the internet? Smart publishers are booking author blog sites and websites on the book jackets, I notice. And smart authors are making blogs interactive with readers work.

Nancy, while publicity figures in there, my understanding of the usual publisher-paid book tour is to increase "lay down." This is the number of books initially ordered by all outlets (including) distributors at the time the book is initially offered.

This number is apparently (or was, anyway) key to the perceived success of a title (despite returns). And any shelf space a publisher gets for a title when it is initially offered, is space taken away from competitors.

Your current tour with Virgin does not involve lay down and that fascinates me. This is a major coupe (maybe a whole sedan), I think. Congrats!

Sadly, I.J. is right, that coveted shelf-space is gone for most of us in a couple weeks.

Also key in increasing lay down is getting distributors to order based on perceived demand in cities where you will be appearing on your tour and arranged publicity gigs in same.

Well, that's the way it used to be anyway. Before the Great Recession.

Julie T said...

Hi, all! I mostly lurk here, and I enjoy reading all your comments.

Reading the book tour discussion made me curious: I'm a volunteer publicity coordinator for a reading festival. We draw pretty good crowds, but we have trouble getting people into tents to actually listen to authors' talks. Instead, they tend to mill about talking to their friends or browsing exhibits. Any advice from you authors about what someone like me should be doing to support you at events like this?


Nancy P said...

Hi, Julie, and welcome into the light. :) At the moment--and possibly because I just drove 7 hours--my brain refuses to come up with any answers to your question, but I do recognize the problem from having seen it, myself, at book festivals. I hope somebody else here can help!

Kelly McCullough said...

On maid tips, Laura and I developed the practice some years ago of always keeping $25 in ones in our bathroom bag so that we always have cash to tip the maid. We replenish as change comes in on the trip. At the end if the kitty's not full enough we make a note for the next bank trip.