Monday, 17 September 2018

Guest Post: The Modern Book Tour by Nate Friedman...

Do you have a book? Then you can have a book tour! It doesn’t need to be any more complicated than that. Some will tell you it’s a waste of time. While it is true that most things are done online nowadays, I believe it’s more important than ever to be out there in person, sharing your book with the world. How else will people know you and your mission personally? The amazing conversations you have with readers, fellow writers and the smiles are all icing on the cake. Writing can be a lonely endeavor at times and being out there allows you put all of your hard work into perspective. And the cherry on top: free market research! Ask someone working at a bookstore what the hottest new books are, or watch your target reader and see how they navigate the shelves. That is all information you did not have before. It’s not about becoming an overnight success, it’s each successful day along the way. The challenge: selling as many books as you can at each stop. You might never feel like you are selling enough, however, what you get is information and learning, more than you ever could sitting at home or online. The most important part is progress - momentum. Remember this in all your creative endeavours: people want to get onto a moving train. Let me now outline some of the steps that will help you in getting your train started. I hope it helps you take that next step!
The Vision
The first thing you need to do is imagine your book tour and what you want it to be. Listen to your gut instinct and don’t rule anything out. Factor in time for yourself and make it just long enough to leave you wanting more. For some, this could mean taking a full year to peddle their book across the country. For others, this could be one event a week over a period of 6 months. For others still, maybe 10 bookstores in 10 days. Once your vision is created, that is what will help you sell the idea. People will feel you getting excited and will want to be on board. You’ll be the biggest party in town! Go to places that excite you, to places you’ve never been before, and even places you don’t want to go. Sometimes this resistance is exactly what you need to push through, to reach to the next level.
The Call
I am not talking about the call of the wild, but an actual phone call. Don’t think about it, just do it. We live in a time where we readily have access to copious amounts of information. Look up the phone number of bookstores near and far and call them (it’s free!). Don’t take any of these things for granted. The store managers you are calling want to say yes. They love you. They are probably as excited as you are, about having a new author at their store. Get a few no’s!? Good! That means you are heading in the right direction. You’ll feel even better when the next store you call is interested. If you’re the script sort here it is:
(smile: it comes through over the phone) “Hi I’m {name} author of {book name}. I was wondering who I would speak to about doing a book signing event. *gets person* “Hello there {say their name}. I’m {name} and I’m excited to be organizing a book tour! We’re looking to book {# of events} in {location} for the {insert tour name- makes it sound official}. We’ve already booked {insert stores booked already- remember moving train} and we’d love to have you on board. *wait, listen, really focus on the person you are talking to*
Final note: give them a date and time. If your vision is clear, you’ll know where they fit into your schedule. You’re not doing anyone favours by giving them an open calendar (it screams unprepared!) Also, have a backup date and time available, and if it doesn’t work out you still have a contact person for future tours. I always ask myself “How can I make this call fun?” before it’s made. Maybe you want to get an iced tea and sit on the patio with your legs up, GREAT! Life is about enjoying. Don’t just exist, THRIVE…. Oh, and at the end of the calls you’ll have a book tour.
The Preparation
This is where you use your writing and creativity skills to think of unique ways to advertise your events. I’m a bit old school when it comes to this: we put up these posters around where my events were taking place. There’s a multitude of ways to spread the word: internet advertising boards, local newspapers, your own website *hint-hint, nudge-nudge*, word of mouth, social media blitz including ‘what’s going on in {insert city}’ facebook group, book tour trailer. Anything and everything you think of, it will get people’s attention. We did t-shirts and colouring pages because it felt fun. Again, you have a style and a way you like to do things. That’s what makes you who you are, and the reason your book will sell a bazillion copies on your tour! Don’t forget to use your contacts: do you know anyone who is a news reporter? A school teacher or principal? Someone who advertises for their job/company? Ask for all the help you can!
There is also the question of whether to do paid advertising. You have to believe that anything you put in, you will get out. Sometimes these dividends take time to materialize. Decide on a budget. Be true to where you are at in your career and what you can realistically afford. My challenge here for you is to take what I call a “50-year approach”. Look at your career long-term and see how everything you do will help your career. Without a doubt, you know you will get where you need to go. It also allows the small mistakes and mishaps to be learning experiences, instead of career altering events. At the end, you only get one shot at each tour stop. Imagine yourself, sitting in that author chair on the day of the event, with less people than you wanted walking around. Think to yourself, “What more could have I done to advertise this event better?” Give, give, give, it all comes back in time.
The Event and Beyond
This is where the fun begins! Notice the excitement, the fear, the worry, the butterflies! These are all positive feelings. They mean growth in your career and increasing book sales. Don’t feel anything? I challenge you to build bigger- build something that scares you! Do the craziest thing you can think of!  Here you are, in a new bookstore and/or city. You’ve already won! You’re a working, traveling author, you are a professional. Your only job now is to be present, be yourself. People want to see your book succeed. They’ll even give you feedback directly, listen and weigh it. Try talking to as many people as you can. When you go home at the end of the tour, I guarantee you it won’t be the number of books you sold you think about. It will be the small moments and smiles along the way. It will be conversation that gave you your next great idea, the motivation you got from someone else, these are the things that will remind you why you write in the first place. And the book recommendations 😊! Ultimately, we’re all readers. It’s only being in the arena where you can learn and make adjustments. It does take a lot to put yourself out there, I don’t discount that, but it’s real. Take note of people’s names, make as many contacts as you can. Look at who publishes your favourite books in that genre and send them an email. Motivate people on their journey, tell people why you think your book is the coolest and why they should buy it! (Prepare a quick elevator pitch if you haven’t already and begin with your mission)
Also, take personal notes: what could we have done to improve in this location? What could we have brought? What worked? What didn’t work? Failing is not a tragedy, but failing to learn from it is. Take note on a deeper level, is this your thing? What part of the tour were you most excited by? Do you want to do more of these? How many should you do? Do you prefer reading and school visits? Be TRUE to yourself. This is all information you have now because you took the initiative and made that phone call. When the book tour is over, be sure to Thank everyone who was involved. They let you into their store and worked hard to make it possible, you have nothing to be but grateful. These heroes allow you to be an author.
At the end of the tour, and most importantly, DON’T STOP. Ride the wave. Sit down and plan the next one. You are one step closer to the Bestseller List (and if you’re already there, that’s one more person you shared your work with).
In closing, you are 100% responsible for how your book performs. 100%. Other people can help you along your journey but you alone are responsible. A book tour is a great way to spread your book to a larger audience and share your gift with the world. I once read that Tom Cruise, at one time the biggest movie star in the world, has a hand in every single movie he has ever been a part of. And you’re no Tom Cruise….yet (but those sunglasses you have look cool). The best way to approach your book tour, and your career in general, is that you are making it happen. Anything done by others is simply gravy. It is a lot of work. Seek the advice of professionals when it seems natural to do so, they want to help. The whole endeavour is rewarding. However, at the end of the day, you will be surprised by what you are capable of.
Let me be the first to congratulate you on YOUR book tour. Have any questions? E-mail me. I mean it, let me know about anything I can do to help you on your journey. Let me leave you with the best moment of my recent book tour. I’m teary eyed writing about it! So here goes: A young boy, of about five years, comes to the table to do some colouring pages I’ve left out. I’m thinking he’ll just draw some scribbles and be on his way. But instead, he focuses in and really gets into colouring. I joke with the parents that he’s really enjoying it. The mom says “Oh, he’ll do the whole thing” and she goes to sit down. As he is colouring we start talking about why he thinks he’s so good at colouring and what he wants to do when he grows up (he wanted to be an author, guys!). After doing a great job colouring, I decide I’m going to give this kid a book. I got to inscribe it saying “keep following your dreams - hope to work with you one day.” And then we took a picture together as he smiled. My heart melted. The fact I get to have moments like this that affect people’s lives is everything. I have been afforded the chance to follow my mission, which you’ll see in all my books: “I want to change the world one smile at a time.” What’s your mission? I guarantee a book tour will help.

Nate Friedman is the Author of “The Coffee Monster” and “The Last Hockey Fight.” He loves to travel and craves adventure in his free time. Along with making people smile and laugh, he is constantly pursuing his dream of being a writer on Saturday Night Live. You can find out more about his work at or Thanks again.