After nurturing my second book through revisions, editing conferences, cover design, table of contents organizing, formatting, publishing and production, I started the concrete plan for my DIY book tour.
I’d been thinking, dreaming of, and writing notes of what I envisioned for my book tour. While writing Seedlings, Stories of Relationships I often thought, “What will readers think of this?” It was part of my writing process that also helped with planning the book tour.
If you are passionate and proud of your book, and you are writer, manager, promoter, bookkeeper, and marketer, the best place to talk about your book is in front of book lovers, readers, seasoned friends, and new friends. Your family has probably heard the talk for months I know my husband and sister had. It’s time for a new audience.
Here’s my Sweet Sixteen Ideas for putting together a DIY book tour that will not only sell books, spread your name amongst new readers, but also save your sanity. The specific examples used come from my recent Seedlings East Coast Book Tour:
- Visualize what want to accomplish: Sell books, spread your name amongst new readers, keep your marriage intact.
- Think about a geographical location and timeline: I have two in-person areas planned, then a book blog tour, then a guest blog tour. My first geographical choice—East Coast. May 21- June 10, 2014. Defined as the NJ NY LI areas where I have lived and worked.
- Clarify for yourself what kind of events/venues you want: Big hall with an entry fee, public venues like libraries, bookstores, shops, cafes, personal (homes, churches). Clarify: Invite only or Open to the public.
- Enthusiastically tell everyone, I mean everyone, what you are doing, when, and where: Even if they live 200 miles from the book event area, they may know someone there. You never know who will show up. I had the pleasant surprise of meeting a former kindergarten student (think 1971). The most important ‘everyone’ to tell is your family or significant other. My husband and I talked about the length of travel and my plan. He decided the degree to which he would be involved which turned out to be the whole trip and attending almost every event, carting books, driving, and handling bookkeeping. I am married to a man declared a National Treasure. If you’ve read Seedlings you know more of why.
- Start your advance notice campaign: The East Coast Seedlings Book Tour is Coming May 21, 2014. Publicize through social media. You do have Facebook, Linked in, Google +, a website and active mailing list? Of course you do.
- Keep info ‘out there’: I have the good fortune to work with a stellar social media company, Groundwork Promotions, http://groundworkpromotions.com who produced a book trailer and four readings to go on You Tube, Facebook, and now in newsletters.
- Make lists: Possible attendees. Possible host venues. Update them when possibilities become definites. I decided on a majority of what I call “Salon Events” reminiscent of literary salons. Think of a gathering of people under the roof of an inspiring host, held partly to amuse one another and partly to refine the taste and increase knowledge through conversation and literature. Make a list of possibilities in my focus areas—friends, writing groups, formal and informal organizations of which I am or have been a member. Contact the leader or group facilitator. I ended up with 14 yeses for: Lunch with the Author, Coffee with the Author, Dessert with the Author, Wine and Cheese with the Author, A Book Talk with ELM. Think of the kind of talks you are comfortable with–go from there. Send each hostess an advance copy of the book if they have not already purchased one.
- Plan the general agenda for events: Mix and mingle with some food, book share of at least two stories or writing topic, Q&A, and book sales and signing. Total time for each event was about two hours. Half-hour setup before. Each hostess had a copy of the agenda to tweak as necessary, make an invitee list i.e., friends, tennis groups, writing group, book club, or our mutual colleagues.
- Do the Daniel Boone route: MapQuest. Find the best ‘Loop’ for hitting areas. Look to fill in with another event if you absolutely have to do an event at the Shore.
- Send invites and updates: Either the hostess or I sent email invites with the hostess as RSVP. List every event on your website, and Facebook calendar with a “contact XXX” for invitation only events if some folks could make one but did not know the hostess. Send out a Schedule of events newsletter (hurray for Mail Chimp) a month before, and a follow up two times with targeted emails before you head off to the Promised Land.
- Plan your readings: Since the hostess had a copy of the book, she/he suggested stories that would work or not with the invitees. Practice reading the selections with edits to about ten minutes max for each selection. Folks need breathers. Be open to the agenda taking a different path—some groups are very talkative. Be prepared to firmly but in a friendly manner allow time for book sales. Decide if you or the hostess will be the ‘emcee.’
- Notify media in areas where you are going at least a month before: Invite them to specific events. Keep the social media line busy. Post/photos of all events.
- Set up a staging area: I shipped an order of books, bookmarks, business cards, and handouts to my dear friend who acted as Seedlings warehouse for the duration. I took supplies from her house for each segment of the tour.
- Print packing list a week before: Personal things and Book tour items.
- Decide payment options: Be prepared. My options were check, cash, Apple Square. Most cash payees pay in twenties. Have change ready.
- Bed and Board: My hostesses were in some cases acting as B&B. Bring a gift. Stash all your ‘stuff’ in the guest room no matter how small. Make sure they know this is a book tour and that the majority of your time will be out of the house. Be a model guest. Send thank-yous within a month after. Mention your hosts on Facebook with high accolades. My ETERNAL thanks you go to my “B&B” hosts—Jackie and Glenn Martin, Bryn and Don Asarnow, and Maggie Dermond for food, support, hosting events, cooking delicious meals, and laughing at night. Keep the glow going. Post. Blog. Email new friends.