I had my final bookstore event for Riot Load on Saturday at the wonderful Nicola’s Books in Ann Arbor with the delightful Patti Abbott and that brings this tour to a close. I still have a few more appearances this year but I don’t really consider them part of this tour. So, now that I’ve had a few days to decompress and evaluate everything I’m sure you’re wondering if I think it was all worth it.
This was quite a humbling experience to say the least. I had six people at my event in Phoenix, three at my event in Houston, and seven or eight walk-ins in Seattle, all of whom were there to see Bill Cameron. So yeah, humbling. It helps a bit to know authors bigger and more famous than I am had these same struggles early in their careers but I’m guessing those tours weren’t self-funded. Sounds like a horrible investment, right?
Well, not so fast. While on the surface and strictly from a numbers point of view the money and time away from work and family and other responsibilities was very much not worth it. But I’ve also spent more money on stupider things with even poorer returns. So let’s look at what did work about this tour.
The biggest advantage to traveling for a book is the immense free publicity that goes with it. Book stores ordered more copies of my book than they would have otherwise and placed those books prominently at the front of the store and in other key sales areas. That’s co-op gold that would normally cost a publisher serious change. It also gave me a chance to talk about the book and remind people the book was out without having to do cheesy and explicit BUY MY BOOK type messages.
One of the hardest parts of promoting a book is finding savvy and interesting new angles to bring up the book here on the site or on social media or in conversation. But a book tour provides a built in angle with lots of ways into that conversation. Travel stories, rental car horrors, tweets about the weather in AZ, and other things like this are a great way to remind people I have a new book out and I heard this first hand from several people who bought the book because of it. And even though only a handful of people showed up in person at the events, many more people pre-ordered the book so I had stacks of mail orders and web orders to sign that had already been purchased. And many more people who weren’t able to attend for whatever reason will head to the book store after the fact to purchase one of the signed copies I left behind.
Finally, I had a chance for great in-person connections with some of the best booksellers in the country. We talked about books and sports and music and movies and video games and it was just wonderful all around. These are the best advocates a book and an author can ever get and I had a rare chance for an audience with them to make a connection and build a friendship. That’s invaluable from both a career and a human level. We all got into this because we’re readers as much as anything else and in an increasingly isolated world in-person contact is a gift to be shared and enjoyed. The friends and family I was able to hang out with during this trip make all of it worthwhile.
So while the melancholy of the worst parts of the tour may color how I approach touring, if at all, for Trigger Switch next year, I can’t say this was the worst way to spend money. I’m sure I could burn through that much on a good binge at the casino and feel much, much worse about myself the next day. I’m a lucky man in my life and my career and traveling around the country to bookstores to hang with friends is a key part of that. If you are interested though in making me feel better about this whole thing as well as supporting the great work indie bookstores do, contact The Poisoned Pen, Murder by the Book, Seattle Mystery Bookshop, or Nicola’s Books to order one of the copies I left behind. Thanks!