A Publisher's Conversation with Authors: More on Book Tours


photo by Frank Perez

It is Tuesday. Time to tall turkey. Monday's madness is over, and Wednesday will take us over the hump, so Tuesday it is--for some serious discussion with authors. Tuesday talks mean to address authors in waiting and self-published authors who would like to go a more traditional route or who would at least like to take their steps with a publisher by their side.

Today's topic returns to an earlier topic -- book tours -- with more detail. Some interesting posts and articles and research have come out since the earlier posts, so there seemed to be a need for an update. 

  • Book tours are often imagined by new authors as exciting places publishers will send them to meet hordes of fans-to-be at almost-sycophant book stores. While at one point in time and even today for very famous authors, publishers did and do this, it is rare, and certainly a new author is not going to get this kind of red-carpet treatment from a publisher. 
  • Book tours generally do not make money; they are lead loss activities for making the book better known. For new authors, this could result in an upside-down relationship with royalties (negative net income for the publisher) and even, in a worst-case scenario, having the publisher move the book to a back list because of income loss.
  • Bookstores do not set up book signings and draw in large crowds for authors; rather, the other way around. They will give a space to the author, if they think the author will generate interest in their store. They expect authors to work to attract new readers to their store. Otherwise, there is no incentive to free up the space.
  • Most bookstores will not shelve those books that do not sell. If they overpurchased in anticipation (typically sales run 10-15 books at these events and typically bookstores will purchase 15-25 books), they will return the leftover books to the publisher or the distributor. If to the latter, the publisher will incur a cost, which further lowers net income on that particular book.
  • The bottom line is that book tours are unduly glorified in the minds of authors while being one of the least effective marketing tools; they take time and energy and financing that could likely be used more effectively on other kinds of marketing.

Want to read more about book tours? Here are some good posts:

Lesson for today's Tuesday talk: Think carefully about whether to invest the time, energy, and money into a book tour that has a potential for losing more than it gains.

Look at all your marketing options. If you have lots of friends and acquaintances just waiting to rush to the bookstore for you to sign your book and to purchase it there (they cannot bring their own copies for signature), then you may attract other customers as well. If not, then perhaps a different approach will be better for your book.

   Read more posts about publishing HERE.


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