I got away with only working twelve hours today. Would have gone longer, but the only bookstores I haven't yet visited close early on Sundays.
Got up at 8AM, then plotted my route for drive-bys. I wanted to visit 18 stores. I figured I could do two stores an hour---15 minutes of schmoozing, then 15 minutes of travel time.
It took longer than I figured, and I got behind schedule. When I do a drive-by, I always find my books myself and bring them up to the Information Desk.
"This is me," I'll say, smiling and pointing at my book cover. "I'm J.A. Konrath. Can I sign these for you guys?"
I always get a yes. Sometimes they ask questions. Sometimes they're busy. But I still try to pitch the books and hand out signed coasters to as many employees as possible. They are my word-of-mouth army, and I need to stick in their heads.
Sometimes it takes time to find staff, or sometimes they call for managers, and my 15 minute time frame becomes half an hour. I also often wind up talking to customers, passing out signed coasters, and pitching my books to patrons.
Plus, since I hit most of the local stores yesterday, the stores today were farther apart, sometimes by 25 miles. There were several mall stores, and it seemed I always parked ten miles away from where the store was, every time. So I didn't get as much done as I wanted to.
Here are the stats:
Barnes & Noble in Denver, signed 4 hardcovers, 9 paperbacks, sold 1.
Waldenbooks in Denver, signed 4 hardcovers, 2 paperbacks.
Borders in Lakewood, signed 3 hardcovers, 3 paperbacks, sold 1.
Barnes & Noble in Lakewood, signed 4 hardcovers, six paperbacks, sold 2.
Borders in Englewood, signed 3 hardcovers, 2 paperbacks, sold 1.
Borders in Littleton, signed 2 hardcovers, 5 paperbacks.
Waldenbooks in Littleton, signed 4 hardcovers, 6 paperbacks.
Barnes & Noble in Greenwood Village, signed 4 hardcovers, 5 paperbacks.
Barnes & Noble in Lonetree, signed 5 hardcovers and 5 paperbacks.
Borders in Aurora, signed 5 hardcovers and 8 paperbacks.
Barnes and Noble in Aurora, signed 4 hardcovers and 2 paperbacks.
Waldenbooks in Aurora, signed 2 hardcovers and 6 paperbacks.
Barnes & Noble in Westminster, signed 4 hardcovers, 4 paperbacks.
Barnes & Noble in Thornton, signed 4 hardcovers, 7 paperbacks.
Borders in Northglen, signed 4 hardcovers, 4 paperbacks.
So that's 15 stores today, and 9 yesterday, for a total of 24 signing in Colorado in two days.
Will it make a difference? I dunno. I met a lot of booksellers and fans today, and signed over a hundred coasters and plenty of books.
Several employees placed my signed books in a front-of-store display, which should help.
Plus Waldenbooks had them at 20% off, which is good news.
Other good news---today in the Chicago Sun-Times, I got a tremendous review from David Montgomery. I love that guy. In the New York Times Book Review, you can find an ad for my books that my publisher placed. Plus the latest issue of The Strand Magazine is on the newsstands, featuring an even bigger ad from my publisher, plus an original Harry McGlade story by me called TAKEN TO THE CLEANERS. Pick it up. It's funny.
So what am I learning on tour so far? Here are more tips.
TOUR TIP #12--Always allow yourself more time than you think you need. Sometimes traffic is bad, or you get lost. Sometimes you stay at a store longer than expected. Visiting two stores an hour was an unrealistic goal. Give yourself wiggle room.
TOUR TIP #13--Save time by finding your books on the shelf and bringing them to the Information Desk to sign them, but ALWAYS ask the staff to check if there are more copies. Several times today, the store had more than I'd found. And it goes without saying that you want to sign everything...
TOUR TIP #14--Stay attached to reality. By my ninth store today, I completely forgot where I was. So I took a little break and called home. Hearing friendly voices helped to take my mind away from the repetition, and made me fresh for the next set of signings.
TOUR TIP #15--Be good to yourself. I ate when hungry, drank plenty of water, and made sure I had some sleep the night before. I couldn't imagine doing this without enough sleep or nourishment---or even worse, hungover. A healthy tour is a productive tour.
FUN FACT ABOUT COLORADO: It has mountains.
THINGS I WOULD HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY--Spent more time introducting myself to the audience at High Crimes, visited the stores that closed early first, and eaten someplace other than that burrito stand.
THINGS I NEED TO DO--Plan my attack for Arizona. I'm leaving tomorrow at 6AM, which means I have to pack tonight, plot an itinerary for drive-bys, and contact my wife to have her send me more coasters and give-away magazines--I didn't bring nearly enough.
That's all for now. See you in the desert...