Tours of Duty for Authors

Tours of Duty – sounds like something awful, harsh and challenging. A tour of duty in Afghanistan no doubt is not something pleasant or refreshing for most people. I suspect that a book tour, for some people, can feel like a horrible experience. However, a piece of your marketing strategy should include some kind of book tour. 
For many indies and self published authors, just getting an event in a bookstore is a tour of duty in and of itself. There are lots of reasons why a store can just say…nah…sorry, this big publisher over here is giving us this money to put on an event for this well known author instead. Like I said in the previous post, you need to make it easy for the bookstore to want you to put on your book event at their store. 
When you know the release of your book, usually months in advance…and if you’re self published, you can determine this yourself…start contacting the booksellers and trying to set up a tour for yourself. If all you can financially manage is a book tour of your area, then do that. For example, in my area, there are several independent bookstores. If I scheduled an event at each one, a couple of weeks a part, I could expand my audience considerably. If you can go further, then try to schedule several outside of your area. 
I live in North Carolina. We have a long state, from the mountains to the sea. For someone like me, I could try to schedule a couple of local events, then expand over to Charlotte, then the Smokies, then back local, then go to the beach, then local again, then the Appalachians, and really spread my tour out in order to better engage other areas of my state. It would take awhile, maybe even a year, but it is a way to get yourself out there.
The timing should be well in advance. Start booking your events at least three months from release. Ask the bookseller what days work best for them for attendance. They know their own store and their own customers better than you do. 
Start with your local bookstore. They should be your first book event, if not your release event. Ask them who takes care of promotional materials – you or them. Ask them for the media list. Work with them on providing what you can, like food and favors, bookmarks, and business cards. Many booksellers will give a percentage off your book during the event in order to help promote the event itself. They will send out the event information to their lists, their subscribers, and their own website. Offer to do a Facebook invitation two weeks ahead of time to see how many you can get to confirm. You can do a giveaway promotion for the event on your website.
Set up your event schedule. If you are doing a reading, select passages that are meaningful and make the attendees want to read your book. If you are doing a Q&A session, be prepared for the Frequently Asked Questions: the process of writing, inspirations for characters or places, when you knew you wanted to be a writer. You can put together a power point presentation or show a book trailer. Present your book in the best way you can. 
If you are doing just a signing, then have some food available and ask for a set up during a busy time.
Offer to sign the stock of your book at the bookstore. People like to buy a book that has been signed by the author. 
You can try to be a part of a panel event at a bookstore, which is more than one author. If you know other authors, have a joint event. 
I know this is common sense, but if you really want to know how a book event works and what one looks like at your local bookstore, then go to one or more. Remember…there is no need to reinvent the wheel.

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