Sunday, July 16, 2006

Tour Day 15

Miles driven so far: 3510
Bookstores visited so far: 120
Books signed so far: 938
Books hand sold so far: 113
Bookstores remaining: 380

I burned through Indiana, then down into Westerville Ohio where the patient patrons of Foul Play Books waited for me, even though I was an hour and a half late (that darn Eastern/Central time zone change.)

Stores I signed at include:

Waldenbooks Madison

Booked For Murder Madison

Books and Company Oconomowoc

Walden Calumet City IL

Borders Highland IN

BN South Bend IN

Borders South Bend IN

Borders Fort Wayne IN

BN Fort Wayne IN

Waldenbooks Fort Wayne IN

Waldenbooks Lima OH

Foul Play Westerville OH

If you're looking for signed JA Konrath books, look to the above stores.


I haven't been posting much in the way of commentary about the tour so far, because I've been crunched for time. Here are a few of the things I've been meaning to share:

  • This tour has been made more difficult by having scheduled events. Next time, I won't do any events at all, and I won't be nearly as rushed to get from point A to point B, which will be more relaxing and more thorough. I only have a few scheduled events left (the Backspace Conference in NY, lunches with my agent and editor) and then will be easier.

  • While visiting a chain, I saw a self-published guy sitting behind a pile of his books in the middle of the store. When I walked past, he didn't acknowledge me. After meeting all of the employees and getting them fired up about my books, I went back to this dejected writer and gave him my two cents. He needed to get out from behind the chair, talk to staff, talk to customers, and handsell his books. I told him I've done many signings, and sitting ther elike a lump wasn't going to help his sales. He told me that he'd been doing this for years and was doing just fine. Not once did he tell me about his books--had he done so, I would have bought one. Nor did he tell the many people who passed his table about his books. Thanks for reminding me to stay focused, my self-pubbed friend.

  • On two occasions, employees bought my entire stock of books in their store, between six and eight copies. I'm always delighted when this happens, because the best way to get people to handsell you is to have them read you. The free copies of RUSTY NAIL my publisher suplied me with to give away are a huge hit, and will go a long way to helping keep my books in stock. On a few dozen occasions, I watched managers order more of my books, so the signed coasters I pass out will have a home and make these copies "signed by author."

  • In Champaign IL, I got hammered by rain. It was so bad, cars were pulled over alongside the road because their windshield wipers couldn 't keep up. Barry Eisler recommended Rain-X, which repels water (and exploding flying beetles.) It works like a wonder. All drivers need this stuff.

  • A few days into the tour, my car (a '96 Suzuki Sidekick I've dubbed The Rustymobile) sprung a leak. The water condensation from the air conditioning, which should drip outside the car, began to drip inside the car on the passenger side by the floor mat. I stuck a picnic cooler under the leak, and the cold water now keeps my cans of energy drink nice and cool without having to stop for ice all the time. Lemons and lemonade...

  • One several occasions, I was blown away by how many copies of my books a store had. I'm averaging between 6 and 10 per store, but several times I've been in the mid double digits. The last time it happened was in Highland. When I pulled up to the store (which wasn't scheduled on my tour but was a store of opportunity that my GPS found for me) I realized it looked familiar. Last year, I'd done a reading/speech there for a local writing group. They had invited me, and I'd driven the two+ hours there to address a handful of people. At the time, I'd wondered why I kept doing those small events--they didn't seem worth my time or gas money. But when I arrived in Highland yesterday, the manager remembered me from my previous visit, and had thirty copies of my books waiting for me to sign. Considering he hadn't expected me to drop by, I was stunned. Those little events aren't so little after all.

  • I still haven't seen any copies of Rusty Nail at any Waldenbooks stores, and their computers still don't allow them to order it. But this isn't cramping my style at all. I explain the situation to the managers, and they either order copies through another distributor, or hold on to my coasters for when the copies eventually arrive--and they will eventually arrive. In a way, this staggered release date will keep my books on the shelf even longer, and a longer shelf life is always good.

  • I've begun calling B. Dalton prior to dropping in, and have yet to find one that carries my books. Granted, these mall stores are smaller than the Barnes and Noble stores (same company), but BN sells a lot of my books, and I'm wondering why they don't stock any copies. I like the B. Dalton stores, and hopefully they'll carry me in the future.

  • If you're passing through Westerville Ohio, shoot yourself in the head before staying at the Knight's Inn. The condition of my room fell somewhere between squallor and destitution. There were stains of dubious origin on the carpet and drapes and walls, my bedsheets were holey and smelled like BO, the bathroom was without towels and had a showerhead situated at chest level (with the stream force of a small child urinating), and the 'wireless internet' only worked if I stood on a chair and help my laptop next to the window. And this was $50 a night. Sleeping in the Rustymobile would have been preferable...

  • I'm doing pretty well handselling. I spend perhaps 15 minutes in each store, and the goal is to meet the booksellers. But if there are customers nearby, they also get a spiel, and it works at least 50% of the time. Not only does a quick sale make an impression on the buyer (who will hopefully tell all of her friends about the author she met in the bookstore) but the booksellers are always thrilled.

  • My ring finger is itching as I write this. I think the Knight's Inn has given me yet another gift----scabies.

And now, back to the road. On to Cleveland today, and Pittsburgh tomorrow.