Monday, January 12, 2009
This photo of tumbleweed caught under a truck inspires me to begin the requested discussion about book tours, hee. Tumbleweed = author. Truck = book tour. Amount of control most authors have over most book tours= zero to not much. How you feel at the end of a long one: like a tumbleweed caught under a truck. On the other hand, if you didn't have to pay for it, you also feel very very lucky.
First thing to say: "book tour" is a misleading term, because there are several kinds of book tours. When I use this term, I am talking only about tours that take you out of town. I am not discussing what you do in your own home area.
When I use the term "book tour," I will mean one of the following types:
1. Planned and paid for by a publisher. This can happen sooner than you might think--or used to before this economy--and it can happen for more modest sellers than you might think--or used to, before this economy. I don't know what publishers are doing now. I don't know if I'll have a tour for my next novel. Publishers started paying for and planning my tours pretty early in my career.
2. Planned and paid for by a writer. Sometimes a publisher will kick in a little help, but for the most part these are all on the writer, and so these are the ones where you really have to weigh the cost:benefit ratio. Sometimes several writers will join forces and tour together to save $ and to try to attract more people to their appearances. Sometimes these author-financed tours are worth it, sometimes they are not, and it's hard to predict which it will be. The only time I did this in a big way ("big" being relative), it cost me a lot (also relative) and brought no benefits that I could detect. I was still paying for it several years later.
3. Special cases. My current tour is one of these, because it's related to a special, one-time event--KansasReads '09, and because the libraries I visit are picking up lodging and paying honorariums to help cover my other expenses like food and my rental car. My publisher is also helping by providing books at cut-rate so the libraries can buy more than they usually would, and my pub is also buying my gas, up to a limit. I think they may also have provided some publicity gee-gaws.
Now. . .tell me what you want to know about those three types and I'll answer as well as I can, given that the whole issue is in a state of flux due to the economy and its dramatic effects on publishing. . .not to mention its effects on the budgets of writers.
(The previous thread for today is still open, so don't feel you have to post here.)