I've just concluded a seven city book tour for the release of Love Kills, the fourth in my Detective Nan Vining series, signing exclusively at independent bookstores. In this era of Facebook, Twitter, and "Contact Me" buttons on websites, through which fans can reach out and virtually connect with authors, isn't the old fashioned book tour so last millennium?
No, and here's why.
- It's a promotional boost. Independent bookstores will feature your event on their Websites and in their newsletters, reaching avid crime fiction fans around the world. If the bookseller deems your book a "must read," better yet. The stores order many more copies than they would otherwise. Signed books are displayed prominently.
- It's a way to support indie bookstores, who need all the help they can get right now.
- Talking with indie booksellers is great. They know the genre and love it as much as I do. They often introduce me to the works of writers who are new to me. I usually leave with a stack of books I've bought.
- Local media might cover book events. Here's a nice article that appeared after my appearance with other authors at Scottsdale's Poisoned Pen.
- It's fun to have real, face-to-face, conversations with fans, to hear how a character or situation made them feel and see the enthusiasm in their eyes. I don't get that from Twitter or Facebook. Sometimes, someone will ask a question or make a comment that really makes me think. Often, people shopping in the store who don't know my books will see my event, wander over, and buy books.
- I have friends who live in many of the cities where I sign. Some fans have become friends. It's a chance to catch up and have a drink or a meal afterward.
- I meet other crime writers. Sometimes stores schedule more than one author for an event and I like that fine. It makes for interesting conversation and the pressure is not completely on me to hold forth. I like networking with colleagues. We'll likely cross paths again at a convention or festival. They may think of me and I them when putting together an event.
- Book signings have led to invitations to speak at other events, which leads to more folks seeing me, which leads to more invitations to other events and more exposure for my books.
I follow a few rules when doing a book event. I treat it like a business meeting. This is my career, after all. I'm always on time, polite, well-groomed, prepared, and I attempt to be engaging. I am respectful of my hosts, any authors I may be appearing with, and the audience. I try to speak with energy and focus and am mindful of my time (I don't drone on).
How many books do I sell at appearances? Just like any advertising or marketing campaign, it's hard to gauge success. Certainly there are authors who have become huge bestsellers without making any public appearances. I'm not there... yet. So I do what I can and I do what's fun. I don't go to every conference. I limit my bookstore signings. I need quiet time to rejuvenate, ruminate, and work on the next book.
Here are some photos I took during my tour for LOVE KILLS.
You can find signed copies of my books here:
Book 'Em Mysteries, South Pasadena, CA
Clues Unlimited, Tucson, AZ
"M" is for Mystery, San Mateo, CA
Mysterious Galaxy, San Diego, CA
Mystery Bookstore, Los Angeles, CA
Poisoned Pen, Scottsdale, AZ
Vroman's Bookstore, Pasadena, CA
And here's an article about a fun dinner party a group of friends and I put together after the tour was over.
Even though the official Love Kills tour is over, I always have appearances scheduled. Check my Website.