When I pack my bags and set out for New York City this fall, I’ll be embarking on my first ever multiple-city author tour. In the two weeks to follow my Manhattan launch, I’ll attend Bouchercon in Albany, and hold events in North Jersey, Tampa, Austin, Houston, and Los Angeles. Which immediately begs the question – why?
These days authors can “meet” new readers by touring the blogosphere for thirty days. Sitting in my home office, typing up my thoughts about e-readers, the disappearance of physical bookstores, and the general health of the publishing industry, comes fairly easy to me, as I’m sure it does most writers. Add to that the fact that I hate the current state of air travel, and tend to get myself drunk and lost in major cities, and you might wonder why I’m leaving home at all, instead of opting again for the “virtual tour.”
The decision to tour for my first international thriller GOOD AS GONE didn’t come easy. The cons were obvious – flying countless hours in coach, spending a small fortune on meals and wheels and hotels, and having to wear socks for two weeks straight. The pros were a little tougher to identify. Sure, I’d get to see friends and colleagues I haven’t seen in years, but then again, that could be accomplished without flying around the country, reading to strangers, and risking sitting alone at a metal folding table in Texas staring at a half-dozen rows of empty metal folding chairs.
So why did I decide to tour at all? Was it to feed my ego? Any author who has sat for an hour at a table in a large bookstore and watched dozens of people walk by without a glance in their general direction can tell you that unless you’re already a New York Times bestseller who can draw a crowd at a landfill, touring is a piss-poor way to feel good about yourself as a writer.
No, my September author tour will not be an ego trip, even if I somehow manage to pack the house in every city I visit. What my author tour will be – for better or worse – is a learning experience. I want to meet my readers and make some friends. I want to talk to booksellers about what makes them fall so in love with a book that they decide to hand-sell. But most of all, I look forward to seeing how people react to me and my work.
Writing is, naturally, a lonely profession. Living in Hawaii, while inspiring, hasn’t helped matters. I really only get to see my peers once a year at the annual Bouchercon convention. And I freely admit to feeling like an outsider while I’m there. From the way other authors, old and new alike, interact with each other, it’s obvious that they socialize throughout the entire year. Sure, I can share in their good times by viewing a few photographs on Facebook, but it’s just not the same.
In this digital age, I think it’s more important than ever for authors to travel to different cities to meet readers and booksellers. I’m told in one breath that “author tours are on the decline,” and in the next breath I’m told that “the industry is struggling” and that “booksales ain’t what they used to be.” Well then, maybe we should make some changes. Maybe we should do some of the things authors did in order to succeed in the past. Many of the authors I met before I became a writer turned me into a lifetime reader. In September, as I’m signing books and meeting new people, I’ll be hoping to have some (if not the same) impact.
To view my events schedule, please visit http://douglascorleone.com/events/
Mention this post and I’ll buy you a drink after the signing.