Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Dreaded Book Tour

By Vicki Delany, guest blogger

Before I became a writer I imagined the book tour as follows:

· T day minus one month – Receive schedule of appearances from publisher.
· T Day minus three weeks – Receive airline tickets and hotel reservations from publisher.
· T Day minus two weeks – Shop for suitable clothes for appearances.
· T Day minus two weeks – Send receipts for new clothes to publisher.
· T Day minus one week – Receive list of newspaper and radio interviews from publisher.
· T Day minus two days – Check ink levels in good pen.
· T Day minus one day – Pack suitcase and go to bed early.
· T Day – Be ready on time for limo pickup for drive to airport.
· Duration of Book Tour: Have fun, meet people and talk about books and writing.

Now that I am a writer, I know that the book tour goes as follows:

· T Day minus 6 months - Send introductory e-mail to every bookstore and library in target area.
· T Day minus 5.5 months – Follow up every e-mail with telephone call.
· T Day minus 5.5 months to T-Day minus 1 month -- Follow up phone call with another phone call. Repeat.
· T Day minus 3 months – Notice that book store A is 8 hours drive from book store B, and the signing at bookstore A finishes one half hour before the signing at book store B begins.
· T Day minus 3 months – Juggle appearances on three days surrounding screw-up mentioned above.
· T Day minus 1 month – Write date and time on postcards for bookstores to hand out.
· T Day minus 2 weeks – Go on Internet to arrange car rental. Be shocked at the cost.
· T Day minus 1 week – See doctor for hand cramp caused by all that writing on postcards.
· T Day minus 6 days – Go to bank to withdraw cash for trip.
· T Day minus 6 days – PANIC.
· T Day minus 5 days – Receive notice from airline that flight has been rescheduled. It now leaves at 3:45 AM.
· T Day minus 2 days – Try on suitable clothes for being centre of attention. Suck in belly. Sigh heavily.
· T Day – Get up early; drive to airport; pay enormous amount for long-term parking; wait hours to board plane; wait more hours for plane to depart.
· Duration of Book Tour: Have fun, meet people and talk about books and writing.

Vicki and Deborah Turrell Atkinson are visiting Hawaii and the western U.S. to promote their new mysteries, Valley of the Lost and Pleasing the Dead. Details can be found at Booktour ( Vicki’s trailer for Valley of the Lost is on Youtube at:


Sheila Connolly said...

Wonderful! And love the T minus 6 days (can that be scheduled regularly?).

Tell me, did the first version ever exist, or is that an urban legend? It certainly goes well with the "ooh, you must makes lots of money!" comment.

Elizabeth Zelvin said...

Yep, all that checks out with my experience--except I remember not being fully shocked by the car rental cost until after I turned the car in. Somehow it bore no relationship to the advertised rate. Which is why I'm driving my own car from New York to Indianapolis for Bouchercon (to tour on the way back). But "dreaded?" Yes and no. Apart from all the work before and bills after, it is a lot of fun. :)

Kaye George said...

This is what I was beginning to suspect! Thanks for this look at reality. I'm glad the last item remained the same - having fun on the tour.

Lorraine_Bartlett said...

Okay, Vicki, you've convinced me -- I don't EVER want to tour!

Beth Groundwater said...

Thanks for the laugh, Vicki! I'm sure that it helps a great deal to be touring with an author friend, and from what I know of her, I'm sure Debby is a pleasant companion.

I'm starting to plan a 2-week northwest tour with my hubby on our way to/from my daughter's graduation from Univ. of Oregon. I'm sure he'll be sick of the whole bookstore signing experience by the time we finish! It helps that in many of the locations, we'll be staying with friends/relatives, so maybe they can drum up a few attendees.

I wish you and Debby all the luck in the world on your tour, with no snafus and huge crowds!

Anonymous said...

Vicki here - the tour is going well so far. We are in Honolulu right now and Debby has arranged some wonderful events for us. The big problem is that I'd rather spend my time sightseeing than indoors at bookstores!

Darlene Ryan said...

You didn't eat your body weight in chocolate during the planning stage? I'm impressed.

Sandra Parshall said...

How cool is that -- starting their tour in Hawaii. Debbie actually *lives* there, which hardly seems fair to the rest of us!

Debby (Deborah Turrell) Atkinson said...

I'll second all of the comments here. Vicki and I are amazed at the planning involved. Good stuff, but whew! Yet it's an adventure, isn't it? And Beth, I'd have to drug Bob to get him on a book tour with me. Large doses of Valium at least. Heck, I may need it. Stay tuned.

Rosemary Harris said...

The first version did exist in the early 80's when I was peon in the publishing business. Alas it is no more, unless you're one of the big guys and don't really need it. That said I just got back from a swing through Indiana and Ohio and I loved it. What can I say? The rental car co. gave my car away because my arrival was delayed by 5hours. There was the threat of a blizzard. I went to the wrong address for the Mystery Company and the wrong store for Books & Co...but it was wonderful! me about that drive! that's what I was going to do this time..

Chester Campbell said...

Got a bang out of your post, Vicki. I'm with Liz on the transportation part. My wife and I drive everywhere, all the way from Nashville to California on one junket. And Beth, you need to put your husband to work. Sarah is my secret weapon at signings. She greets the customers and points them in my direction.

Anonymous said...

Vicki again. Debby is a bit overawed at the amount of driving we're going to do. At home, I'll drive three hours one way to visit my mom and then back, but Debby tells me that in Hawaii if you're driving for an hour, you spend the night.

Sharon Wildwind said...

Vicki neglected to mention that she is currently being featured on Story Circle Network's Book Review site. Check out her interview at

Sandra Parshall said...

Vicki, thanks for giving us a look at your preparations for touring, and thanks to both you and Debby for popping in to update us. I hope the rest of your tour is fabulous and that you both develop finger cramps from signing so many books. :-)