Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Tour Day 23, 24, 25

Miles driven so far: 5223
Bookstores visited so far: 216
Books signed so far: 2054
Books hand sold so far: 152
Bookstores remaining: 284
Gas: $596
Hotels: $588
Food: $225


Touring for Cheapskates

Before I get into the updated bookstore list, I'd like to share some tips for the author who is touring on a budget (which is everyone except for Evanovich.) My publisher is financing the majority of this tour, and the rest comes out of my pocket. The longer I can stretch a dollar, the longer I can stay on the road.

I can't over-emphasize the cost/benefit value of this tour so far. Meeting booksellers isn't just smart--it's essential. I've made some terrific contacts, and met many folks who will hand sell my books long after I'm gone. This is the single most effective thing I've done for my career.

Though I seriously doubt any other author is crazy enough to visit 500 stores, I urge you to do some kind of limited touring, if only in your immediate area. If you do decide to take your show on the road, there are a few tricks I've picked up to keep your costs waaaaay down.

  1. Drive a car that has decent mileage. So far I've traveled 5100 miles and spent $596 on gas. My fuel cost per store visited is $2.75---or my royalty for selling a single hardcover. This price would go up considerably if I drove a guzzler.


  2. Stay with friends or at hotels you don't have to pay for. I've been to two conference while on tour, and they paid for hotels, which meant that I could visit the bookstores in those towns for free. I've also stayed with many writers and fans while on tour (the lovely and talented Karen E. Olson, author of Sacred Cows, recently allowed me to crash in her beautiful home in Connecticut.) My hotel costs per store have averaged about $2.72.


  3. Bring food, get free food. Don't spend $3 on a bottled water when you can buy a case for $12. The same goes for road snacks. Don't pay for coffee when all chain bookstores have coffee shops that will gladly offer you a free cup if you say to a manager, "I really love your coffee." Many cheap hotels have free breakfast buffets, and an extra bagel stuffed into your pocket really helps keep up the energy during long stretches on the road. Friends and fans on the road buying you food also helps. I've gone days without spending a cent on food.


  4. Reservations. When you are forced to stay at a hotel, it's cheaper to make reservations online than simply checking in at the front desk. Most hotels have free Wifi internet access. Park in their lot, pull out the laptop, visit Priceline.com or Expedia, and get a few bucks off before checking in.


  5. If you're on the road for a while, you'll have to do laundry. If you can't use a friend's house to wash clothes, find a hotel that has a washer/dryer--it's cheaper and quicker than a laundrymat or dry cleaner. Don't have a laundry bag to haul clothes? Even the cheapest hotel has pillowcases. Hotel so cheap they don't have an iron? Hang your shirt in the bathroom and turn on the shower. Steam gets out most of the wrinkles.

So far, the cost per bookstore, with everything factored in, is roughly $6.50 each. Contrast that to an official signing, which can cost up to $2000 a store (and the author only sells 30 copies of their book.) Quite a bargain, ain't it?

The cost will go up when I visit the West coast (I'm flying to California and have to rent a car) but will go back down when I finally get home and hit the 100+ bookstores within driving distance of my home.

I should hit the halfway point within the next few days, and I'll be in Rhode Island and Massachusetts up through Saturday. And if you're looking for a signed book, visit one of these fine establishments:

Borders Wall Street NY

Borders 32nd & 2nd NY

BN Greenwich Village NY

BN 106 Court Brooklyn NY

BN 675 6th Ave NY

BN 105 5th Ave NY

BN Park Slope Brooklyn NY

BN 160 E. 54th NY

BN Forest Hills NY

BN Fresh Meadows NY

BN Bayside NY

Coliseum Books 42nd St NY

BN White Plains NY

BN Yonkers NY

BN Hartsdale NY

Borders White Plains NY

Walden Greenwich CT

Borders Scarsdale NY

Walden Ryebrook NY

Walden Stamford CT

Borders Stamford CT

BN Norwalf CT

Borders Wilton CT

Borders Danbury CT

Walden Danbury CT

BN Danbury CT

Borders Express Farmington CT

Borders Farmington CT

Borders Manchester CT

Borders Simsbury CT

BN Glastonbury CT

BN Farmington CT

BN Enfield CT

Walden Meriden CT

Walden Enfield CT

BN Orange CT

Borders Milford CT

BN Yale CT

BN North Haven CT

A few times on this tour I've visited bookstores that had no copies of my books. This is a good thing--after meeting me they order copies. But I'm not listing these stores on the blog for those keeping count. :)

Gotta go. I'm finding it tough to blog on the road, because I'm exhausted at the end of the day, but I'll try to keep updating every few days. Thanks to the many who are following my tour and are leaving words of encouragement either here or through email--every comment is appreciated!

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good stuff JK

Keep up the good wook, and letting us know about your excellent adventure

Ali
www.shotsmag.co.uk

Jim Winter said...

A couple of things to add, Joe, one of which you and I discussed, another from Laura Lippman's private blog. (She won't mind me sharing.)

First off, if you have a laptop, always carry an ethernet cable at least 6'. (I carry a 10' cable.) The reason for this is if your hotel doesn't have free WiFi or no Internet access, there's probably a nearby Kinko's. Kinko's is a T-Mobile hotspot, but you have to pay. However, hard-wired access is free.

Second, if your publisher's putting you up, try to get the 3-star hotel instead of the 4. "Why, Jim, are you insane? Passing up a free 4-star hotel?"

No, I'm not, and this came from Laura during her most recent tour. The 4 stars generally charge for WiFi. Last year in Chicago, I paid the Sheraton $10 a day for access, which, at the price I was paying, is a rip-off. Fortunately, I needed a huge tax deduction. The 3-stars, however, don't usually charge for Internet access. So if your publisher's putting you up, they might appreciate the lowered cost of lodging and the absence of WiFi charges.

Mike said...

I'm going to have you schedule my next vacation. You should write one of those visit the U.S. on $7/day.

You might want to take a look at Karen's link. It was broken for me.

Anonymous said...

Karen Olson's Web site is http://kareneolson.com

Christopher said...

Looking forward to seeing you in Massachusetts, Joe. I shot you an e-mail about hosting you to a drink and meal. Hope you got it.

Travel safely.

Ewoh Nairb said...

Nice to see that you plan to visit CA. If you let me know when and where you'll be in SoCal I will show up.

Also, the offer for a place to crash and a good hot meal or two is still there if you want.

Scott Marlowe said...

Keep it up, Joe! There's light somewhere at the end of the tunnel!

JA Konrath said...

Apologies to Karen--the link now works.

Karen said...

Thanks for fixing the link to my site :)

And as a former travel editor, I do know that sometimes you can get a cheaper hotel rate by calling.

And Jim's right about the wireless access. I had to pay $10 a day at a nice four star hotel in San Francisco, but got it for free at an immaculately clean La Quinta Inn in Sacramento that was a third of the price. It's an interesting phenomenon.

Sorry the Hotel Olson didn't have wireless. But we are still in Dialup World.

Tom Schreck said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Aimless Writer said...

Yay! Joe! I'm totally inspired by you.
See you in Woodbridge, NJ this weekend!
GO JOE GO!!!

Dee Savoy said...

Hi J.A.,

Do my eyes deceive me or did you miss the Barnes and Noble in Bronx, NY. It's a fabulous store, very roomy and friendly and a decent sized mystery section. The phone number there is 718-862-3954 for the Community Relations person who I believe is still Dahlia. If you make your way there, I'll drop by and buy you a scone (cinnamon, not the dreaded blueberry).

Hope your tour continues to be successful.

All the best,
Dee Savoy

Darwyn Jones said...

Joe -
Great information. All that and time to blog as well? This newbie thanks you.