When my recent book tour ended — “not with a bang, but a whimper,” to borrow from the Hollow Men — I was relieved it was over. Now I wish I had more readings scheduled.
The “Wasted Author Tour,” which included ten event in Detroit, Berkeley, Mill Valley, San Rafael, Corte Madera, Albuquerque, and Santa Fe, was stressful, turnout was disappointing more often than not, and it didn’t generate enough audience or book sales to justify the time I devoted to it.
But I would do it again.
I always enjoyed giving the talk. And the people who showed up seemed to as well.
My goal with this post is to share an honest account of the tour. This is not advice, because I don’t consider myself an authority. However, it may be useful for other authors who are wondering if a tour is worth the trouble.
When I launched my first book — Bones in the Wash: Politics is Tough. Family is Tougher — I scheduled one reading, in February 2014, and more than 50 people crowded into Mo’Joe Cafe in Berkeley. I even ran out of books to sell because I didn’t want to tempt the gods and bring too many.
It helped that Mo’Joe was a block from where I lived for 25 years, and at least a dozen friends were able to walk to the reading from home. It was also my only reading, and I pulled out all the stops to get people there.
At Copperfield’s Books in San Rafael, my third reading on the Wasted Tour, the store manager had to unfold more chairs to accommodate latecomers. (No one sat in the front row, however.) The audience of 30 was the biggest turnout of the tour and, coming on the heels of a turnout of 25 in Detroit and 17 at the Ecology Center in Berkeley, I was feeling pretty good. Well, the Ecology Center was a disappointment, particularly given that the venue and my book, set in the recycling world, were a good match and the Ecology Center actively promoted the reading. Maybe it was just they set up too many chairs.
The week of my two readings in Berkeley, at Urban Ore and Mo’Joe Cafe, I managed to get an interview in Berkeleyside, and several strangers who attended the Mo’Joe reading told me they learned about it from that interview. (I also sold ten books on Amazon the day the interview was posted, my best day ever.)
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