I’m just in off the road from my maiden voyage, a two-week tour of the Pacific Northwest, peddling my debut book, CRAZY. And boy, am I full of wisdom, the kind earned the hard way by jumping in feet first and totally blind! In no particular order, here are the nuggets, some silly and some dead serious. I’ll let you figure out which is which!
- I have a wonderful publicist at Eerdmans who has been over-the-top helpful, but road trips like I just did are pretty much up to the author. I didn’t count the hours that went into the planning, but I know that writing time got bumped by promotional details for six to eight weeks prior to the tour. In other words, if you think you are going to need the help of an outside publicist, get them on board early in the game, so they can help manage the juggling act!
- Assuming you opt to go it alone, be prepared to be totally ignored by bookstores and libraries. Get used to calling and/or emailing each contact (and that’s probably after having sent a postcard) at least three times. Be sure to include clips from the best reviews, a good picture of yourself that doesn’t clog email, and a humble attitude. Persistence pays off.
- Dry-run the wardrobe. It needs to travel well, feel comfortable, and be photogenic. Be sure to wear those new shoes around the house for a couple of days to assure the comfort level you bought them for. Always pack a back-up pair, just in case. And consider that both the room temperature and your body temperature will fluctuate wildly during events.
- Anticipate the detractors, especially if your book deals with anything controversial. Trouble shoot your title, the story line, the characters, the theme, or any other facet that might cause a reader to express negative concern. If you have written a memoir or anything semi-autobiographical, choose your words carefully and toughen your tongue so you can bite it regularly during interviews and presentations.
- Always bring a dish of candy, a bottle of water, extra deodorant, lots of Kleenex, a flash drive, extra cords to connect to screens, talking points, a sleeping pill if necessary, and a sense of humor.
- If you bring your significant other along, make sure he/she has a good book to read, some money to buy a another good book to read, good walking shoes, directions to the nearest coffee shop, an understanding of when you need his/her help and when you don’t, and a signed agreement to stay outside the recording studio during interviews!
- Think about and practice what you will write at the signings, keeping in mind you will have friends and strangers from all walks of life, and one phrase doesn’t fit all.
- Watch what you eat and keep it light before the event. Bring along your favorite antacid, headache reliever, foot powder, sanitizer, hand lotion, and massager (now this is where your significant other can really find his/her niche!)
- Keep breathing. It’s one of the best antidotes of fear known to man.
- Remind yourself that this is your dream-come-true, and when you post that picture on social media, no one really has to know that you had a zero turnout. Be prepared for it, as it WILL happen!
Even with all the ups and downs, taking a book on the road is a trip of a lifetime. If any other authors out there have wisdom to share, I’d love to hear about it!