Monday, July 31, 2006

Hero Worship and Money

When I was 14 years old, I read a book called The Tomb by F. Paul Wilson.

It introduced the single greatest hero in modern thriller fiction, a guy named Repairman Jack.

Jack fixes things. Not things appliances or computers. He fixes problems. Such as that ex-husband who is stalking you. Or the gang hitting up your shop for protection money.

Like everyone else who has read The Tomb, I thought Jack was cooler than hell. In fact, my first novel (written in 1992 and still unsold) featured a guy named Phineas Troutt who called himself a "problem solver."

That was an homage (which is French for rip-off) of Paul's Jack character.

I never sold that first book, but I liked Phin well enough to make him a character in the Jack Daniels series. He's also been in Ellery Queen a few times, and has a story in my upcoming anthology These Guns for Hire.

But Phin's greatest achievement is a story in the Thriller anthology, edited by James Patterson. And guess who else is in that collection? F. Paul Wilson, and Repairman Jack. Was I happy? You betcha.

Paul, and Jack, are currently having a pretty cool contest:


F. Paul Wilson's Repairman Jack website is running a contest and offering a $1000 to the person who submits the most original / intriguing / interesting / challenging problem for Repairman Jack.

Go to, click the contest button, and get started.

The winner will receive a cool grand. But thatÂ’s not all. If possible, Paul will work the winning problem into a forthcoming Repairman Jack novel and use the winnerÂ’s name as the character who brings it to Jack.

No fees, no tricks, no limit to the number of entries. What are you waiting for?

As far as contests go, I think this is a smart one. A grand is a lot of money. And the best way to get this money is to read some of Jack's adventures to get a feel for the kinds of 'fixes' he does.

The Tomb is a good place to start. You can also check out Legacies, Conspiracies, The Haunted Air, Infernal, Crisscross, All the Rage, Hosts, and Gateways. No BS, Paul is writing some of the best stuff in the business, and if you haven't discovered him yet you're doing yourself a disservice.

Paul promises he'll read every entry, and give special consideration to the writers that I sent his way, so drop my name and drop it often.

In the meantime, I'm getting to work on my Repairman Jack scenario. Something where he has to work alongside Phineas Trout...

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Tour Day 28 and 29

Miles driven so far: 5655
Bookstores visited so far: 262
Books signed so far: 2322
Books hand sold so far: 165
Bookstores remaining: 238
Time spent writing fiction on tour: 0
Movies watched on tour: 0
Books read on tour: 0
Minutes of television watched on tour: 0
Magazines/Newspapers read on tour: 0
Video games played on tour: 0

Yesterday I managed to drop in 21 bookstores (it was actually 22, but one of them was a college bookstore that did absolutely nothing for my career.) The day began at 7am, and ended at 11:02pm, right after the last store closed.

When I finally got to my charming Days Inn room in Warwick, Rhode Island (Now With 30% More Stains!), I took a few minutes to dwell on the tour before passing out from weariness.

Since I have so many stores to hit in a limited amount of time, recreation is the first thing to give up while touring (sleep is the second, food is the third.)

I knew this would happen going into this tour, and I try to justify this unhealthy behavior by rationalizing that I'll eat, sleep, have fun, and spend time with my family when I'm a bestseller.

There are many problems with that philosophy, but the most immediate is: how do you define bestsellerdom? Hitting #1 on the NYT list? Hitting #99 on USA Today?

So I've refined my criteria. I'll be more comfortable when I earn twice as much money as I'm earning now. This would mean I wouldn't be living off credit cards between checks, and I'd actually be able to afford health insurance and maybe even have a savings account.

How do I make more money? The answer seems obvious: sell more books. Which is why I'm putting in so much time on the road. I think of this tour as trying to start a fire. Hopefully I'll cause enough sparks that the flames will become self-perpetuating.

Here are some things that I want to happen in my career:
  • Earn out my advances.
  • Sell more foreign rights, especially to England, Germany, and Australia.
  • Write more than one book a year.
  • Sell book club rights.
  • Option movie rights.
  • Make sure my backlist stays in print.
  • Get into the big box stores (Walmart, Costco, Target, Sam's Club, etc.)
  • Make sure each book sells better than the previous book.

Looking at these goals, it's apparent that many are out of my hands. My agent and my publisher have the control when it comes to subsidiary rights. I can write another book a year, but I don't have any guarantees it will sell.

All I really have power over is how much self-promotion I can do in order to sell more books. If I keep doing that, hopefully everything else will fall into place.

Which is why taking time out to see a movie isn't in my best interest right now.

If you're looking for signed JA Konrath books, visit one of the following bookstores.

Borders Marlboro MA

Walden Marlboro MA

BN Framingham MA

Walden Natick MA

Borders Chestnut Hill MA

Walden Needham MA

BN Chestnut Hill MA

Borders Shrewsbury MA

BN Millbury MA

Walden Worchester MA

Tatnuck Westboro MA

BN Manchester CT

BN Canton CT

BN Waterbury CT

Walden Waterbury CT

Walden Auburn MA

BN Worchester MA

Borders Providence RU

Borders Cranston RI

BN Smithfield RI

Brentanos Boston MA

Walden Medford MA

Walden Saugus MA

Jabberwocky Books Newburyport MA

BN Blemont MA

Walden Lexington MA

Walden Swansea MA

Walden Brockton MA

Walden Taunton MA

Kate's Mystery Books Cambridge MA

Borders Cambridge MA

Borders Braintree MA

Borders Express Swampscott MA

Borders Peabody MA

Borders Express Hanover MA

Waldens Danvers MA

BN Brookline MA

BN Saugus MA

BN Braintree MA

BN Burlington MA

BN Peabody MA

BN Hingham MA

Walden Burlington MA

I'm finishing up Rhode Island and SE Mass today, then on to Albany, Philly, and Jersey over the next few days. I should hit the 300 mark by Tuesday if all goes well. By the time I trek down the east coast and finish Florida, I should have 400 stores. Then in California I'll easily hit another 100, bringing me to my goal.

Hope to see some of you on the road!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Tour Day 26 and 27

Miles driven so far: 5313
Bookstores visited so far: 235
Books signed so far: 2156
Books hand sold so far: 153
Bookstores remaining: 265
Drink coasters signed: 3400
Bookstore employees I've met: 442

Take a look at that last statistic. As I near the halfway point on this tour, I've met 442 booksellers. These are 442 people who have heard my pitch, seen my face, looked at my books, and shaken my hand. Many of them have also received a free copy of RUSTY NAIL.

I'm carrying around a journal which has all 442 names in it, and I've informed each of these booksellers that they will have their name listed in the acknowledgements of DIRTY MARTINI, coming out next year.

What's the value of this? Can you even put a value on it?

By the end of this tour, I'll have met roughly 1000 booksellers. Let's say that half of those booksellers quit, or get fired, or get jobs elsewhere. Of the 500 that are left, lets say half of those forgot about me ten seconds after I left. Of the 250 that are left, let's say that 4/5 of them didn't like me, or don't like mysteries, or don't like their jobs, or simply don't care.

That leaves 50 booksellers who really like me and my books and who are excited to handsell them.

A motivated bookseller can sell dozens, if not hundreds, of books. They'll put my books on end caps and in displays, on front tables even though there is no coop, and face out instead of spine out in the sections. They'll special order them, shortlist them, and jobber them in, even if their computer tells them they should only stock four. They'll recommend the books to customers, who will then become fans. Some of them will even stay in touch with me and become friends.

There are already a handful of booksellers who have each sold over a hundred copies of my books. If I can add 50 more to their ranks, that's an extra 5000 books sold a year. But it goes beyond that. If a stores sells a lot of copies, more copies are shipped to other stores in that area, anticipating the demand. More copies in a store means more shelf space, more face-outs, and more sales.

And 50 is actually a very low estimate. I've already met over 150 booksellers so far who were really excited to meet me and get a free book. I believe many of these folks will continue to sell my series, even if we never meet again.

Has this tour been effective? Hell yes. In fact, I think this tour is the smartest thing I've ever done for my career. I'm recruiting a nation-wide sales force. Normal book tours can't do that. Neither can advertising, marketing, or publicity. I truly believe that this is the future of book tours, whether you like it or not.

In other news, I'm currently in Boston, and had drinks last night with fellow writers Jeremiah Healy and Adam Hurtubise. Adam then took me to an amazing steakhouse and treated me to filet oscar and Bookers on the rocks. After a month of eating day-old muffins, I thought I'd died and gone to food heaven. Thanks, Adam! I'm naming a child after you.

Adam and I talked late into the night about this business. He's a savvy guy, and if you don't already read his blog, you should.

More stores in Boston and Rhode Island today and tomorrow, and eventually I'll get up north and then west to Albany. Then begins my trek down the East Coast, ending up in Florida by mid August.

If all goes well, I'll hit store 250 tonight, ahead of schedule.

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 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!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Tour Day 20, 21, and 22

The Backspace Conference is over, and by all accounts it was a success. If you're an aspiring writer, this is a must-attend event.

I got to spend some quality time with Barry Eisler, Lee Child, MJ Rose, Jeff Cohen, Heather Brewer, Jackie Kessler, Reed Farrel Coleman, David Robbins, Harry Hunsicker, and many other more important people that I'm forgetting due to fatigue.

I was honored to win the Bob Kellogg Good Citizen Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Internet Writing Community. Lesson to writers: help each other, and one day you'll get an award. Also helping each other happens to be a nice thing to do.

A few days ago my publicist, Charlie Davidson, carted me around New York for drop-in signings, but since then I haven't been able to do much in the way of bookstore visits, having emceed this convention. But that will change today, when Barry Eisler and I tool around town in the Rustymobile, picking up the bookstores I missed.

Thanks to everyone who has called or emailed, offering to help out. I've been extremely busy and unable to reply to email, but you'll be hearing from me soon.


Miles driven so far: 5016
Bookstores visited so far: 174
Books signed so far: 1558
Books hand sold so far: 146
Bookstores remaining: 326
Awards won: 1

And for those who want to buy signed JA Konrath books in your local bookstore, here's where I've been lately:

Joseph Beth Pittsburgh PA

Mystery Lovers Bookshop Oakmont PA

Waldenbooks 1000 Ross Park Drive Pittsburgh

Waldenbooks 242 South Hills Village Mall Pittsburgh

Borders Express 100 Robinson Ctr Pittsburgh

BN 339 Sixth Ave Pittsburgh

BN Squirrel Hill Pittsburgh

BN Waterfront Homestead Pittsburgh

BN Waterworks Pittsburgh

BN South Hills Village Pittsburgh

BN 100 Quinn Drive Pittsburgh

BN Monroeville Pittsburgh

BN Cranberry Township PA

Borders North Hills Pittsburgh

Borders Monroeville PA

Borders The Mills Tarentam PA

Aspinwall Bookshop Pittsburgh

Walden Unionville PA

Borders 1 s. Bread Philadelphia PA

Borders Express 1625 Chestnut Philadelphia

BN 1805 Walnut Philadelphia

Jay's Bookstall Pittsburgh PA

Borders Camp Hill PA

Waldenbooks Camp Hill PA

Mechanicsburg Mystery Bookstore

BN Camp Hill PA

Walden York PA

Borders York PA

Walden Lancaster PA

Borders LAncaster PA

BN Lancaster PA

Borders East Brunswick New Jersey

BN East Brunswick NJ

BN Holmdel NJ

Black Orchid Bookshop NY

Mysterious Bookshop NY

Partners and Crime NY

Murder Ink NY

The Strand NY

Borders 461 Park Ave NY

Borders Columbus Circle NY

Borders Express Staten Island NY

BN Astor Place NY

BN Union Square NY

BN 555 Fifth Ave NY

BN 600 Fifth Ave NY

BN Lincoln Center NY

BN 2289 Broadway NY

BN 86th & 2nd NY

BN 86th & Lexington NY

BN Staten Island

Colliseum Books 42nd Street NY

After the Big Apple today, I'm heading to Connecticut.

Onward and upward...

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Tour Day 18 and 19

I've got to stop staying at cheap motels.

After a lovely stay in Philly last night, bunking with my buddy Jim Coursey in his deluxe Hampton Inn suite, I cruised into NY.

I did nine signings in PA (including one with Jim Munchel in Camp Hill who had 110 copies of my books) and spent the night hours drinking Yuengling lager with Mr. Coursey. The next morning, I headed to the Big Apple on four hours of sleep. After a wonderful lunch with Leslie Wells and her niece, I was so wiped out I had to take a nap.

In an effort to keep down costs I decided to stay in New Jersey, and my trusty GPS led me to the appropriately named Budget Inn in Elizabeth. While the Knight's Inn has this place beat in terms of squalor, this room should win some sort of award for worst odor. It smells like someone murdered a hooker on the bed. And after the murder, they smoked eight thousand cigarettes, while farting. Next hotel, I swear I'll get a room that costs more than fifty bucks.

I was asleep the moment my head hit the smelly limp thing the Inn's proprietors optimistically refer to as a pillow. I awoke in the early evening, and visited some stores in Staten Island and around Jersey. I'll post a complete list of stores tomorrow night (perhaps) but in the meantime here's the stats:

Miles driven so far: 4604
Bookstores visited so far: 156
Books signed so far: 1332
Books hand sold so far: 143
Bookstores remaining: 344
Nights in crappy hotels: 5

The Backspace Conference is happening this weekend, at the reknowned Algonquin Hotel in NYC. I'll be doing the toastmaster thing, and I believe I'm also on some sort of panel. Tomorrow I'm hitting Manhattan with my publicist and we're going to visit at least 15 stores. But now, the lumpy bed beckons...

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Tour Day 16 and 17

Quickie update today, because I have to get on the road.I never went to Cleveland (sorry to all who hoped I would) because I got hung up signing in bookstores around Columbus and then went straight to Pittsburgh. Today, on to Philly.

A special King-sized shout out to writer Rebecca Drake, whose debut thriller DON'T BE AFRAID will in fact make you very afraid. I thought I wrote creepy serial killers, but apparently I haven't cornered the market on them. Look for it this September, or pre-order it HERE. With Rebecca as my guide, we managed to visit 19 stores in Pittsburgh. She also boarded me for the night, putting up with my tragic 'nude sleepwalking' disorder. Apologies to her husband Joe when I tried to crawl into bed and spoon with him.

The following night I spent in the considerate care of fellow scribe M. Stephen Lukac who had beer and chicken ready for me when I pulled into his driveway late last night. This is truly a man after my own heart. Gracias, Steve. When you're in Chicago, mi casa tu casa. Check out Steve's website and blog--he's a great writer and a wealth of info about the publishing biz.

I'll blog in more depth about other people I met (hi Susan and Meryl!) and stores I visited when I get some free time.

Miles driven so far: 3998
Bookstores visited so far: 139
Books signed so far: 1119
Books hand sold so far: 132
Bookstores remaining: 361
Average hours of sleep per night: 5

Thanks to all who have contacted me showing support, and to those offering support. It means a lot. I don't think this tour would have been humanly possible without the help of you guys.

Now back to the trail...

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.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Tour Day 14

Have to be really fast here, because I need to hit the highway.

Miles driven so far: 3086
Bookstores visited so far: 111
Books signed so far: 827
Books hand sold so far: 97
Bookstores remaining: 389

Now I'm off to Indiana and Ohio...

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Tour Day 10, 11, 12, and 13

Day 10

I hit Atlanta, signing at 11 bookstores and attending a book party hosted by my friends Linda Darter and Jim Coursey. Several fans of mine showed up to have me sign their books, which never ceases to amaze me. I'm tickled any time anyone wants me to sign a book, and if they actually hunt me down to get a signature, I'm truly humbled.

One of the high points of the tour so far was meeting bookseller Paul Pessolano at the Borders in Snellville Georgia. Paul confided that he'd hand sold over 150 copies of Whiskey Sour, and surprised me by having 68 copies of Rusty Nail on hand for me to sign.

Paul will have a character named after him in an upcoming book. I may also name a child after him as well.

The stores I visited include:

B. Dalton Peachtree Center

BN 2900 Peachtree Road

BN 2852 Cobb Pkwy

BN 120 Perimter Center

BN 5141 Peachtree Parkway

BN 50 Barrett Pkwy

Borders 650 Ponce de Leon

Borders 1745 Peachtree

Borders 3637 Peachtree

Borders 3101 Cobb Pkwy

Borders 4745 Ashford Dunwoody

Borders East Cobb Marietta

Waldenbooks 3393 Peachtree

Chapter 11 220 Johnson Ferry Sandy Springs

If you live in the area and missed me passing through, please visit one of the above stores for your autographed JA Konrath needs.

Day 11

I got up early to get to Nashville, and managed to hit 10 bookstores during the drive. The lovely and talented Tasha Alexander played tour guide and took me around to of these, including Davis-Kidd where I ran into the lovely and talented JT Ellison, who also bought me dinner. JT, as you should know, is one of the gurus behind Killer Year, a blog that has been getting a lot of well deserved press lately. JA says: link to them.

Tasha then took southern hospitality up to the next level by offering to let me stay in her lovely home. I owe her and her husband big thanks. Buy her historical mystery And Only to Deceive, then buy copies for everyone you know. I really don't care for historicals, but this one I loved.

Other talented and lovely people I got to hang out with in TN were mystery author Chris Well, his wife Erica Well, and SinC Chapter Prez JB Thompson. I also had a chance to give a short speech to the Sisters in Crime group, as I am also a proud sister.

Stores I visited include:

Davis-Kidd 2121 Green Hills Village Dr, Nashville

Waldenbooks 1800 Galleria, Franklin

BN 1701 Cool Springs, Brentwood

Borders 2501 Westend, Nashville

Borders 330 Franklin, Brentwood

Waldenbooks Kenneson GA

Books-a-Million Hixson TN

Waldenbooks Hixson TN

BAM Murfeesboro TN

Day 12

I was in the car a whopping 14 hours today, and managed to drop by ten stores along a circuitous 600 mile route from Nashville to my home in Schaumburg, IL. Stores include:

BAM Clarksville TN

Borders Clarksville TN

Borders Champaign IL

BN Champaign IL

Waldenbooks Champaign IL

BN Bloomington IL

Borders Normal IL

Borders Peoria IL

Waldenbooks Peoria IL

BN Peoria IL

By the end of it I was pretty wiped out, and managed to get five hours of sleep before heading to Madison in the morning.

Day 13

I'm here today the the University of Madison Writer's Insitute doing some lectures on--what else--writing and marketing. After I got into town this morning, I taught a class on creating salable series characters, then managed to visit four are bookstores:

Borders 3759 University Dr

Borders 2173 Zeier Rd

BN East Towne Mall

BN West Towne Mall

I'll be back to the conference for a group signing at 5pm, and used the small amount of free time I had to write this blog entry.


Miles driven so far: 2713
Bookstores visited so far: 108
Books signed so far: 705
Books hand sold so far: 70
Bookstores remaining: 392


So far, so good. While there don't seem to be enough hours in the day to catch up on my email (or my sleep) I'm already starting to see some positive results of this tour. I'm asking booksellers to order more copies of my titles, and they seem to be responding (at least, according to my Ingram numbers). Many folks appear to be very happy to meet me, and I'm happy to meet them as well.

I'm also seeing some fans on the road, and a lot of folks are helping me out in many different ways, from food to lodging to touring advice and tips to simply wishing me luck.

As far as bang for the promotional buck goes, and can't think of anything I've done that has been as effective as this tour, and I'm only 1/5 done with it.

This next leg of the tour takes me through New York and the Backspace Conference, where I'm doing MC duties, but after the Big Apple my schedule will be a lot less hectic, and I should be able to slow down my pace a bit.

Tomorrow (July 14) I'll be signing at Booked for Murder in Madison around 4pm and Books and Company in Oconomowoc around 6pm. On July 15 at 7:30pm I'll be at Foul Play Books in Ohio. Hope to see some of you there!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Internet Happenings

Before I resume with the semi-daily tour update, I'd like to mention a few cool things happening on the information superhighway.

The multi-talented MJ Rose has come up with an innovative way to spread the word about her third Dr. Morgan Snow book, The Venus Fix. The first two in the series, The Halo Effect and The Delilah Complex were terrific thrillers, nicely combining hot and steamy sex with hair raising thrills. Go out and buy many copies of each.

To support the new book, MJ is touring the blogosphere much like I'm touring the country, which is a smart and innovative idea.

The Goal: to get 500 blogs to write about THE VENUS FIX and link to the Vidlit or an Interview with me about it. MJ will donate $5 to a charity that the bloggers themselves chose for each link.

All the rules are here at Myspace. Go and check them out, right now. I'll still be here when you get back.

Upon hearing about her tour, it made perfect sense to turn this into a friendly competition to see who reaches 500 first. Here's the official press release:


J.A. Konrath and M.J. Rose both have both taken to the highway to help their publishers market their books.

J.A. Konrath (RUSTY NAIL 7/1) is driving across the country on the concrete highway with the goal of hitting 500 bookstores by the end of the Aug.

M.J. Rose (THE VENUS FIX 7/1) driving across country on the virtual highway with the goal of reaching 500 blogs by the end of Aug.

Konrath has his car, toothbrush, deodorant, and a GPS device and is planning to stop in every bookstore he can find.

Rose has a fund raising effort, an information page up at myspace where bloggers can learn about the contest and four video clips including a Vidlit, Author Interview and BookGroup video discussion.

Rather than "may the better author win" – "may they both win."

Besides donating $5 for every blog and bookseller who gets involved in MJ's effort via the info at, she will also link back them on a special page at my website and mention them in the acknowledgements of her next book.

So you're helping two worthy causes (a charity and MJ Rose, who is tireless in her efforts to help other writers learn about promotion).

If you want to be counted be sure you read the instructions at and then send a permalink to Every blogger who participates will also be entered in a weekly drawing for a signed, personalized copy of THE VENUS FIX!

I'd be delighted if everyone who reads this blog not only links to MJ, but helps to spread the word about her efforts.

I'd also like to raise the stakes. A friendly competition is fine, but I think that there should be more to win than simple bragging rights. So I'm throwing down the gauntlet.

Bouchercon is in Madison, Wisconsin this year. I think the loser should throw a room party, complete with champagne and cake, in the winner's honor. Naturally, everyone will be invited.

Are you up for it, MJ? I know a great bakery in Madison where you could buy a lovely cake decorated with the cover of RUSTY NAIL. Also, for your future reference, I prefer Asti Spumante to champagne...

In other blog news, several friends of mine have recently started a new blog called The Outfit. This Chicago based mystery blog combines the talents of Sean Chercover, Barbara D'Amato, Michael Allen Dymmoch, Kevin Guilfoile, Libby Hellmann, Sara Paretsky, and Marcus Sakey. I encourage everyone to check it out and link to it.

I'm running late today, and have to get from Nashville to Peoria by 4pm, so I can't do a full tour update until later, but here are the current stats:

Miles driven so far: 2276
Bookstores visited so far: 94
Books signed so far: 590
Books hand sold so far: 69
Bookstores remaining: 406

If all goes well, I'll visit my 100th bookstore today.

And now, back to the road...

Monday, July 10, 2006

Tour Day 8 and 9

Day 8

Miles driven today: 324
Bookstores visited: 0
Books signed: 0
Books hand sold: 0
Bookstores remaining: 439

So far, the hardest thing about this tour has been finding time to blog about it.

I finished the line edit of DIRTY MARTINI and sent it off to Hyperion, then attended Rob's wedding and reception, and immediately afterward drove from Charleston WV to Knoxville TN, which was a lovely five and a half hour trip through mountains with zero cell phone and radio reception.

There wasn't any time to visit bookstores today, which plays havoc with my daily average, but I'll make up for it tomorrow.

Day 9

Miles driven today: 283
Bookstores visited: 13
Books signed: 70
Books hand sold: 4
Bookstores remaining: 426

Signed at the following stores in Tennessee:

Borders 202 Morrell Road Knoxville

Borders 11235 Parkside Dr. Knoxville

Books-A-Million (BAM) 8507 Kingston Pike4 Knoxville

BAM 190 Collier Dr. Pigeon Forge

Waldenbooks 3000 MAll Roasd North Knoxville

BN 8029 Kingston Pike Knoxville

BAM Chattanooga

Waldenbooks Chattanooga

BN Chatanooga

Then on to Atlanta:

BN 292 Cobb Parkway

BN 50 Barrett Parkway Marietta

Borders 3101 Cobb Parkway

BN Cobb Parkway Marietta

Atlanta has about 20 more stores, and I hope to hit many of them before my book party.

So far on tour, I've given away 76 copies of Rusty Nail to booksellers, and their response has been overwhelmingly positive. The free book goes to the person in the store most likely to read it (the biggest thriller fan, the mystery department head, the GM, the CRM, the person who recognizes me or has read me before.)

As I mentioned before, the goal here isn't just to sign stock. In fact, I have several goals when I walk into a bookstore:
  • Sign stock and place business cards in the books I sign. The cards stick out like bookmarks, which draws more attention to the book and also advertises the other books in the series.
  • Meet the booksellers and give them signed coasters to put in future books of mine that they order (which sort of makes them signed copies.)
  • Tell the booksellers about my series, and give them a free copy of Rusty Nail, which also comes with promo material for my audiobooks and These Guns for Hire, my antho coming out in the fall.
  • Get business cards with email addys for follow ups.
  • Have booksellers write their names in my acknowledgements book, and let them know they'll see their name in print when Dirty Martini comes out next year.
  • Ask them to please handsell the copies I've signed, and then order more.

I'm surprised how many stores have copies of all three books, which means my backlist is being stocked (a good thing.) However, almost half of the stores I've visited haven't gotten their copies of Rusty Nail yet, or tell me they have tried to get it and Whiskey Sour, but can't because of distributor/computer issues. Hopefully that is being resolved (Whiskey Sour is coming out in a second printing, and the Rusty Nail issue is being fixed.) We'll see how things develop as the weeks pass.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Tour Day 5, 6, and 7

Day 5

Miles driven today: 395
Bookstores visited: 19
Books signed: 95
Books hand sold: 2
Bookstores remaining: 439

I'm tired, but happy with the way things are going.

With the help of the talented James R. Winter, who carted me around Cincinnati all day, we managed to sign at 18 bookstores, which is really impressive considering how far apart some of them are. Jim's a great guy and a great writer---visit him on his blog and get your hands on a copy of his mystery novel Northcoast Shakedown.

It took a solid 11 hours to finish up in Ohio, and then I managed to make it to Lexington, KY to sign at one final bookstore (Joseph Beth) and hang out with the editor of the best science fiction magazine being currently published, Apex. Jason kindly invited me to stay in his lovely home for the night, and I ate all of his food and made a really sweet fort out of sofa cushions which I hope he'll leave standing after I move on.

I'm not an idiot (I'm also not an actor, but I play one on TV) and it's obvious that so far on this tour that a lot of people are chipping in to help me out. Three nights on the road, and I've already had three free meals, two places to crash for free, and two author escorts who drove me around their towns. I'm both humbled and blown away by all of this generosity. In Carmel, a fan who heard about my tour even gave me a $25 gas card. Are people awesome, or what?

Not everything is gooing 100% smooth, however. The chain of B. Dalton (which is the smaller, mall friendly version on Barnes and Noble) doesn't seem to carry my books. I've visited three so far, and struck out each time. Of course, the main reason I'm going to these bookstores is to meet the booksellers, and hopefully they will carry my books after meeting me, so progress is being made.

Also, the wonderful Waldenbooks chain has a computer problem where my newest novel is listed in their system as a paperback for release in 2007. Since the hardcover is available right now, this makes ordering my latest impossible at these stores, which can't be helping my sales. I've spoken to several higher ups, and hopefully this will get resolved. If you want to buy my book through Walden, suggest they shortlist it or special order it through a distributor (Ingram, Partners, etc).

If you're looking for signed books in the area, here are the stores I visited:

Waldenbooks 7875 Montgomery, Cincinnati

Brentanos 28 West Fourth St. Cincinnati

Waldenbooks 6139 Glenway Ave. Cincinatti

Waldenbooks 4601-672 Eastgate Blvd. Cincinnati

Joseph Beth 2692 Madison Road Cincinnati

BN 7800 Montgomery Cincinatti

Borders 11711 Princeton Pike Cincinnati

Borders 4530 Eastgate Cincinnati

Borders 9459 Colerain Cincinnati

Borders 2785 Dixie Hgwy Crestview Hills KY

Borders 5105 Deerfield Blvd Mason OH

BN 1 Levee Way Newport KY

BN 7663 Mall Road Florence KY

BN 9455 Civic Center Blvd West Chest OH

BN 9891 Waterstone blvd Cincinnati

Waldenbooks Florence KY

Joseph Beth Lexington KY

I also visited B. Dalton at the Cincinnati Northgate mall and the Tri County Mall, and they promised to order some copies.

Day 6

Miles driven today: 285
Bookstores visited: 3
Books hand sold: 2
Bookstores remaining: 436

My friend, thriller author Robert W. Walker, is getting married, and he asked me to be his best man. Rob lives in Charleston, West Virginia. I love Charleston, but it doesn't have many bookstores. In between the wedding rehearsal and the long travel times, I managed to squeeze in four bookstore visits.

Taylor Books226 Capitol St Charleston

Waldenbooks 2107 Charleston Town Center

Waldenbooks 175 Kanawha Mall

Waldenbooks 500 Winchester Ave Ashland KY

While the momentum I've been building up on this tour has come to a screeching halt, it's great to be here for Rob.

Day 7

Today is Rob's wedding, and I'll be doing best man duties. I had a solid eight hours of sleep for the first time in about ten days, which felt great.

I have two free hours this morning, so I hit a nearby Kinko's to catch up on my email and blog, and to finish the line edit of DIRTY MARTINI, which is due in a few days.

After the reception tonight, I'm, heading for Knoxville TN. I'll be signing at Knoxville stores tomorrow, and then on to Atlanta.

On Monday, July 10, some friends are throwing a booklaunch party for me in Atlanta. If you'd like to attend, RSVP Linda Darter at It's on Pelham Road, being held between 6pm and 8pm. Hope to see some of you there!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Tour Day 4

I'm in Indianapolis, and under some time constraints so this will be a quickie blog entry.

Miles driven today: 287
Bookstores visited: 14
Books signed: 94
Books hand sold: 5
Bookstores remaining: 458

If you're looking for signed copies of RUSTY NAIL in the heartland, visit The Mystery Company in Carmel.

You can also find signed copies at:

Waldenbooks 3919 Lafayette, Indianapoils

Waldenbooks 6020 E. 82 Indianapolis

Borders 11 S. Meridian Indianapolis

Borders 8675 River Crossinf Blvd Indianapolis

Borders 5612 Castleton Corner Indianapolis

Borders 2381 Pointe Parkway Carmel

Barnes & Nobel 3748 E, 82nd St Indianapolis

BN 14709 US Hwy 31 North Carmel

BN 17090 Mercantile Blvd Noblesville

Borders 348 State Lafayette

BN 2323 Sagamore Lafayette

Waldenbooks Lafayette

I was assisted today by the stalwart Sean Hicks, who drove me to several stores, and the intrepid Moni Draper, who offered me her lovely guest room to sleep in. Thanks, folks!

On to Cincinnati...

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The Tour: Day 1, 2, and 3

The past few days have been spent in Phoenix for Thrillerfest. It was a great convention, but I missed much of it, having signed at 25 stores in the area.

At The Poisoned Pen I signed 80 hardcover (hc) copies of RUSTY NAIL, and five BLOODY MARY paperbacks (pb). If you live in or near Phoenix, please visit the Phoenix or Scottsdale Poisoned Pen stores for your Rusty Nail needs.

I did most of the following drop-ins with fellow scribe Barry Eisler, so if you're looking for signed copies of my books you'll likely find his available as well:

BN on 4847 East Ray, Phoenix - 7 pb

Borders 870 54th, Chandler - 4 pb

BN 311 W. Chandler Blvd, Chandler - 6 pb

Changing Hands 6428 S. McClintock, Tempe - 5 pb

Borders 1361 S. Alma, Mesa - 2 pb

Waldenbooks 1445 W. Southern, Mesa - 9 pb

Borders 699 South Mill, Tempe - 3 pb

Borders Biltmore Fashion Par, Phoenix - 9 pb (sold 1)

Bookstar 2073 E. Camelback, Phoenix - 4 pb (sold 1)

Borders 4555 E. Cactus, Phoenix - 5 pb (sold 1)

BN 21001 N. Tatum, Phoenix - 4 pb

Borders 700 E. Mayo, Phoenix - 4 pb

BN 7030 E. Greenway Parkway - 2 pb (sold 1)

BN 10500 N. 90th. Scottsdale - 7 pb

Bookstar 8919 E. Indian Bend - 6 pb

Borders 7135 E. Camelback, Scottsdale - 7 pb

Brentanos 7014 E. Camelback, Scottsdale - 5 pb (sold 2)

Waldenbooks 1445 W. Southern, Mesa - 5 pb

Waldenbooks 9631 N. Metro Parkway, Phoenix - 4 pb

Waldenbooks 302 East Bell, Phoenix - 7 pb

Borders 6555 E. Southern, Mesa - 5 pb (sold 1)

Borders Skyway Harbor Airport, Terminal 4 - 7 pb

Mysterious Galaxy (at the convention) 15 hc (sold out)

The Well Red Coyote 3190 W. Highway 89A, Sedona (at the convention) 7 pb (sold 5)

I also signed copies of THRILLER at a Walmart in Phoenix, but that doesn't count because they didn't have copies of my books.

Incidentally, I've been getting some good reviews for EPITAPH, my Phin Troutt story in the Thriller antho, and so has one of my favorite authors, F. Paul Wilson, who has a Repairman Jack story in the same book. I think this is wonderfully ironic--I read the first Repairman Jack book (The Tomb) when I was 14 years old and loved it. Repairman Jack is so named because he 'fixes' peoples problems. I fell in love with the character.

Eight years later, I wrote my first novel, an unpublished hardboiled tale called DEAD ON MY FEET. My protagonist was Phineas Troutt, a Chicago tough guy dying of cancer. Because of his situation, he'll take any dirty job for cash, which he then blows on drugs and hookers to help diffuse the pain of his lingering death. Phin calls himself a 'problem solver' which is a subtle homage (aka rip-off) of Paul's Repairman Jack character.

I never sold DOMY (publishers didn't think I could continue a series with a dying hero) but Phin pops up in my Jack Daniels series and plays major roles in WHISKEY SOUR and RUSTY NAIL. Phin has also been in Ellery Queen a few times.

I think its pretty damn cool that Phin now shares a cover with his literary inspiration, Repairman Jack. It gives me a fuzzy, warm feeling.

Thrillerfest recaps are being done on other blogs, so I won't go into any more detail other than to say it was a resounding success, I touched base with hundreds of authors and fans, and owe a lot of people beer.

Before leaving for Thrillerfest, I signed 15 copies of RUSTY NAIL at the Woodfield Mall Waldenbooks in Schaumburg. I also signed about 20 copies each of Bloody Mary and Whiskey Sour, hardcovers and paperbacks, so if you're in Illinois and need an autographed book of mine, that's the place to go until I return in September.

The BN in Schaumburg on Golf Road, and the Borders in Schaumburg on Golf Road, each have 30 signed copies of Bloody Mary.

Totals so far:

28 bookstores visited
339 books signed
472 bookstores to go

Which brings us to the driving protion of the Rusty Nail 500, which kicks off tomorrow in Indiana.

How does one prepare for a 60 day road trip? What am I bringing along?

Here's the lowdown:
  • A GPS to help navigate
  • A laptop to keep up with my blog and email
  • A radar detector
  • 480 copies of RUSTY NAIL
  • 15,000 drink coasters
  • 5000 business cards
  • 500 copies of Crimespree Magazine
  • 500 flyers
  • 500 Audiobook postcards
  • A lined notebook
  • The itinerary
  • Clothes, a toothbrush, and deodorant

While the GPS, laptop, and radar detector are obvious, the other items require some explanation.

My publisher generously donated 500 copies of the new hardcover to give to bookstores. I used 20 of them in Phoenix, to great success. After I sign stock at a store, I give the most enthusiastic employee a signed copy of the new book. Sometimes this is the manager, or CRM, but often it is the person who stocks the mysteries, or really loves to read, or got really excited that I showed up.

That person also gets a special Bleak House edition of Crime Spree, which has info about my upcoming antho THESE GUNS FOR HIRE (which also features a new Phin Troutt story), a flyer and interview left over from my library mailing with Julia Spencer-Fleming, and a postcard about my audiobooks.

Each book I sign gets a business card placed inside, showing the covers of the other books in my series.

Each person I meet in the store (fans and employees) gets a signed drink coaster. I don't spend more than 15-20 minutes in a store, but if fans are around I'll try to sell a book or two, which worked several times in Phoenix.

The notebook is what I call the deal sealer. I tell all the booksellers I meet that I love to thank people in the acknowledgements section of my books, and if they sell the heck out my my series and order more, I'll thank them in DIRTY MARTINI coming next year. They write down their names, I devote a few pages in the new book to thanking them, and we all win.

From this point on, I'll do daily updates whenever possible. If you've emailed me because you'd like to meet me or help out, I'll answer your email sometime today.

Now let's get this party started...