This Week in Self-Publishing: Planning the Book Tour
It’s easy to contact bookstores. The hard part is deciding where and when.
Money earned (total): $7,012.34
Money spent (total): $2,636.42
Money earned (this week): $0
Money spent (this week): $862.80
We’re getting near the home stretch of “self-publishing expenses.” This week’s expenses include paying my designer and paying to be listed in the New York Review of Books’ Independent Press Listing (as you might remember, they reached out to me after seeing that The Biographies of Ordinary People was getting good reviews).
The remaining expenses fall into three categories:
- Buying copies of my own book (at $6.33 per book or $7.85 with taxes/shipping included) to give to a handful of people.
- Submitting my book for awards. I’ve done my research on the numerous indie awards opportunities as well as the types of books that win them, and I’m going to submit to three awards: the Foreword INDIES Book Awards ($79), the BookLife Prize ($99), and the IPPY Award ($75).
- The book tour.
I have two book tour stops booked already: the launch event at Seattle’s Phinney Books on May 23, and an event in August that coincides with another trip I’m taking. (I don’t want to announce that event publicly because the bookstore hasn’t yet, but I’ll give you details as soon as I can.)
Ideally, I’d like to hit Portland, Los Angeles, and NYC, because I know people in those cities and because I’ve already done successful readings in LA and NYC. Maybe San Diego, depending on what I’m doing during Comic-Con week, and maybe Washington DC because I’ve got family nearby. (Anywhere else, as much as I’d love to visit, will have to wait until I am a huge success and can afford to go.)
But part of me wonders if I should hold off on approaching more bookstores until after Biographies launches, so I can use any strong sales data as proof that people might want to come to the events.
Because if I’m going to spend the money to travel to a particular city and do a reading, I want to have at least some expectation that people will show up.
(I used to be a singer-songwriter, and I found that it was super-easy to convince bars and coffee shops and bookstores and libraries to let me play gigs. They didn’t lose any money by letting me set up in a corner, and I was talented enough that I didn’t sound dreadful. But I played plenty of gigs where nobody showed up, or where people did sit in the bar but didn’t pay any attention to me, and I do not want to do that again.)
So I could be contacting bookstores RIGHT NOW! and booking events for the first week of June! and getting that momentum all ready to MOMENT ITSELF!
But I think that’s the wrong idea.
I need to wait and see how this book does. I need to see if it’s worth a trip to Los Angeles or wherever, or if I’ll end up reading to an empty room.
So, although it’s agitating me to not be making plans RIGHT NOW, I think waiting on the book tour is the right choice. Plenty of people still give readings from their books several months after launch (or longer), and if I end up spreading these tour events through the rest of 2017, that’s fine with me.
There’s another question that I might go into more fully next week: how much am I willing to pay for the chance of making this book tip, for lack of a better term?
I’m starting to receive additional opportunities like the NYRB one, in which the pitch is essentially “You have a good book. We only want good books in our magazine, which gets distributed to hundreds of thousands of readers, bookstore owners, librarians, etc. Would you like to pay to advertise your book in our magazine?”
And yes, they’re playing to my ego—“you have a good book”—but I know that I have a well-written novel. I also know that any product has to get exposure before it reaches a wider audience, and although the internet has made it possible for fans to “do our advertising for us,” paying for advertising also helps.
So I’m like, okay, I wouldn’t be getting these opportunities if my book wasn’t good, and maybe that means I should take advantage of them, but also THEY COST MONEY.
As with the book tour, part of me wants to put this off for a month. Launch the book, see how much momentum it builds on its own, and then decide how large of a tour to do and how many additional ads to buy.
As a reminder, here’s what I’ve already got planned (this doesn’t include stuff like podcast appearances, but there will be at least two of those forthcoming because I’ve already recorded them):
May 23: Book launch party at Seattle’s Phinney Books.
June 5–11: Week-long sponsorship at the Seattle Review of Books, which means my book is featured on the site for the entire week.
June 8–29: Biographies appears in the NYRB Independent Press Listing, which includes NYRB copies mailed to subscribers and provided to BookExpo attendees.
August 11: Book reading that I’ll announce formally later.
I’m also listed in the Ingram Advance catalog and on a Kirkus content feed that was sent out to a bunch of major booksellers. It’s not like my novel will be invisible.
So maybe I see how June goes and decide if I want to buy more advertising (and do more book events) for July. I don’t know. There’s a lot to think about, and we’ll see what happens. ❤