Saturday, September 1, 2007

Joshilyn Jackson's Book Tour Tips

Once mamas get book contracts, mamas need book tour tips. And I cannot help you there - no not one bit.

However, what I can do is recognize greatness when I see it, and beg, plead and cajole until greatness agrees to post over here! So that's just what I did.

Joshilyn Jackson is the author of Gods in Alabama (which won SIBA's Novel of the Year Award), Between, Georgia (which was called "a small miracle" by Anne Rivers Siddons), and the latest, The Girl Who Stopped Swimming (which kept Homer Hickam, of October Sky fame, up til all hours reading). I know all these things about her books, but of course what impresses me most is that I see them at my local Wal-Mart. She's hit the big time, right?

So when Joshilyn, a veteran book tourer herself, gives tips on how to make the most of a book tour, I listen. And I think of my writing mother friends, because that's just the nice kind of person I am. Joshilyn graciously agreed to let me post her tips here on Mama Needs a Book Contract. Because you know, we're going to need them someday!

Here you go... Joshilyn Jackson on making the most of a book tour:

OKAY, so, I know very little about anything, BUT I have an AWE-INSPIRING
BADASS publicist, and I will tell you what he told me.

On a tour stop, you have three ways to make it worth your while. If you
hit any ONE of these ways, you call that stop a win. Two and it's a big
win. Three, it's a trifecta. But get ONE, just ONE, and you have not
wasted your time in that city. These are not in order of import, just in
the order they occur to me as I try to remember.

1) You have a good turn out at the store, you connect with readers, you
sell books. This is actually the LEAST likely of the three, but it’s SO
nice when it happens. :)

2) You get media. Ask your in house publicist to book you some -- tell
her you will getup at 6 am to do radio, you will do TV, newspaper, local
glossies whatever she can get, you will do. If she does not have media
for you in one of your towns, ask her if you can try to book your own.
Ask her for a contact sheet for that city. Ask the bookstore you are
going to if THEY have any connections at the paper with the events
people Call that cities version of creative loafing. Call radio
stations. Book yourself on anything you can.

3) Connect with a bookseller or booksellers. One dedicated you-fan
handseller can make a HUGE difference. HUGE! A lot of people who sell
books do it for LOVE, and they are HUGELY underappreciated.

SO. You talk to all the people in the store. You would be surprised how
many authors JUST talk to the owner or manager. You talk to EVERY
EMPLOYEE YOU SEE. You introduce yourself. You get and remember their
names. You do not TALK, you LISTEN --- you ask them about THEM, what
they like to read, how they like working in a bookstore, how long they
have been there. You look for the ones who like books like YOUR book and
who like the same books you like. If they adore a favorite book of
yours, you guys have common ground. The longer they have been in the
store or working as a bookseller, the more likely they are to be
passionate about it.

When you find a bookseller who likes your kind of thing who seems to be
one of those blessed saints who do it for love, you ask them to read
your book. You tell them where it intersects with the sorts of books
they love. You get their email addy. Take them for coffee or a cocktail.
Treat them. If they do take you up, if you later hear from them --- and
a lot of them you WILL -- that they have read your book and loved it and
are passing it on, then you put them in your database and you NEVER
forget them when you have a new release. You send them swag. You send
them love. You remember their names and you see them every time you are
in their city and you let them know EVERY chance you get how much you
appreciate what they do for you, because the handsellers? They are
superheroes, IMO. They are a dying breed, and when they go, there goes
the mid list.

That's all I got.


Thank you Joshilyn!


Serenity Now! said...

Wonderful tips! The great thing is that they are for anyone who has a book out... they could be at any level of the publishing food chain.

Anastasia said...

Thanks for the great tips! My first book is being released on Nov.13th (yes, this mama got a book contract! I wrote at night while the kids were asleep) I have my first book signing next week so I'll keep the advice in mind. Good luck to all the other writer mamas out there!
-Anastasia Royal
P.S. My book is "Undoing I Do: A Novel" (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press)