The twenty-one days I was away from Tucson were also known as “The Seedlings East Coast Book Tour.” A pretty fancy term for taking my latest literary show on the road. The ‘hook’ was sharing my second book, Seedlings, Stories of Relationships. The Book Tour itself was preceded by months of planning, emails, phone calls, booking flights, places to stay, eat, talk, mapquesting and driving, confirming sites, dates, changing sites, dates, and reconfirming.
Sounds like work? Yes, but don’t stop here.
I had written a great book and planned this “show” on a familiar road. Familiar because I focused on a geographical area that was well-known to me—the metropolitan area of NJ/NY—places where I had lived and worked for thirty-five years in New Jersey, and homes, sites, and the setting of my first book on Long Island. The familiarity provided a built-in comfort zone, which reduced the stress of “Who will I know?” “Who will help me?”
Why do authors do book tours? Why do indie authors do very indie book tours? Meaning the entire endeavor is all about you, for you, and by you—financially, emotionally, physically, mentally. But the results affect many more people than the author.
I can only tell you why I did it. I believe I have a book filled with funny, touching, authentic stories, and valid concepts about successful relationships. I wanted to share these ideas in person with anyone who was interested in relationships, which really doesn’t exclude a lot of people, does it?
The results: I was able to share and sell my book, to have people open up about their relationships, to ‘see’ themselves in a Seedlings story, to successfully blur the line between personal and professional gatherings, and enjoy the whole process! I rekindled friendships, met new friends, and traveled over 1100 miles. Because of all the preplanning (laid out in the next blog “Yes, You Can Keep Your Sanity on a Book Tour”), the actual events were filled with enthusiastic readers, listeners, writers, and wannabe writers. When asked, “So, did you sell a lot of books?” my response is “Yes sure, but the biggest benefit is widening my readership circle with interesting inquisitive, book-loving readers and writers.” (Who will tell their interesting, book-loving friends about my book).
The phrase “literary salon” is what I kept in the front of my mind as I planned, confirmed, and went into each event. This truly made it fun for me.
Salon: 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. Yes, that’s what I wanted!
Each event was set up to be a give and take experience. I gave you my stories, my experiences in relationships and writing. I gave you my undivided attention as you share your relationship experiences, and ask questions about writing and publishing. You, the audience/reader/salon attendee gave me undivided attention, cash for books, and grist for my future writing mill. As in many group experiences, I received so much more than I gave.
The East Coast Book Tour salons were called things like: Lunch with the Author, Dinner with the Author, Dessert with the Author, A Family Celebration and Seedlings, Wine and Cheese with the Author, Taking Seedlings to Toastmasters, Book Groups Meet Seedlings, and a few love fests with former networking and professional groups. I got to spend time with friends I had not seen since we moved from New Jersey to Tucson almost five years ago. There was a happiness of almost giddy proportion at some of the meetings, surprise appearances by friends at others, or the togetherness of being among a group of close friends who were experiencing a night out away from kids and family, and on a weeknight too.
I embraced all my social media outlets and sent out advance newsletters “Coming in the Spring 2014—Seedlings Book Tour.” Then, “Save the Dates for Seedlings.” Then, “Here I Come.”
I left the time scheduling of at-home salons to the convenience of the hostess. She was the one inviting the attendees. She knew what they liked as far as food, time constraints, and stories to be read. The general public events were more of a reading and writing workshop event to give ideas for emerging writers, and to entertain the public.
In answer to “Why did you write this book” (about relationships) I used to say, “When something happens to me I just have to write about it.” I’ve been fascinated with relationships since childhood. Was it because of that unique accident of birth of being a twin? Was it teaching and watching young children show innate compassion in sharing something as simple as their Oreo cookies with the sad friend who had only plain old graham crackers? Was it my counseling experiences of working with couples who professed to love each other and got misty when talking about how they fell in love, but sat in stony silence after another vicious verbal fight? I’ve watched, spied on, shared, and been part of relationships for over sixty years. And although many were built on a foundation of sand, I’ve learned a bit about being the architect of your own relationship. And so… this book. AND then… let others know about it.
After a few Book Tour events with Seedlings when people responded to stories about love, death, children, compassion, and remarriage with stories of their own, I amended my statement to “… and when something happens to you, I may have to write about it.” I came home to Tucson with more post-its of sweet, predicable, sad, inspiring, and hilarious stories to add to my collections of seedlings.
That’s why a salon book talk is for me. The author shares her book, about which she is passionate. There is a host, an event planner, an invited audience, an attractive venue, food, an agenda, and time for conversation or discussions in addition to a reading by the author. It’s a gathering of interesting people where the author meets new readers, sells books, and gathers new ideas. The attendees relax, share, talk, and take home a new book or books. It’s a win-win situation. If you’re a writer getting stressed about a book tour, consider literary salons and come out a winner!
Next up: Some stress busters for a smooth book tour!