Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Kilborn 200 Tour Wrap Up

I left on the Jack Kilborn Afraid Tour on April 17, and came back on May 10.

Here are the final stats:

Days on tour: 23
Miles driven: 5789
Bookstores visited: 206
Books signed: 1515
Books given away: 580 (this includes two conventions)
States traversed: 12 + Washington DC
Nights in hotels: 6
Gas cost: $593.65
Hotel cost: $400.22
Tolls and Parking cost: $68.00
Food cost: $130.64
Total tour cost: $1192.51

These fine people allowed me to stay with them while on tour:

William Berger
Rob Swartwood
Steve Lukac
Jennifer & James Daniel Ross
Sherrill & Barry Bland
Jeff & Janice Strand
Cynthia & Bill Johnson
Jane & Don Bretl
Rhonda & Randy White
And especially my pal, Jim Coursey

The tour would have been quicker, but I had to do two events, the Romantic Times Convention in Orlando which ate up three days, and the Reaching Forward library conference which ate up two and a half days.

Is it all worth it?

Unfortunately, yes.

I say "unfortunately" because touring like this ain't easy. But having a publisher behind me and fans/peers who were willing to put me up for the night (and often buy me dinner/breakfast) made it cheaper and easier than it would have been had I done it without this sort of support.

These are the reasons it is worthwhile:

1. Meeting Booksellers. I met well over 500, and a bunch of them got free copies of my books (graciously supplied by my publisher.) Many of these booksellers will read the books I gave them, which makes them much easier to handsell. I also encouraged booksellers to post reviews of AFRAID on the Internet, and many of them already have.

2. Signing Stock. Signed books tend to sell better than unsigned books for two reasons. First, there's an added value to a signed book. Second, because signed books are often displayed face-out, which sells more books.

3. Long-term Effects. While short-term sales are nice, the long-term benefits are better. Books that sell well in a bookstore are automatically re-ordered (or are manually re-ordered by the bookseller) which leads to the store automatically keeping copies on the shelves. Down the road, this means royalty checks and an ever-increasing group of readers exposed to your books. It also doesn't hurt to show your publisher that you are working your butt off for them, especially since we're in a recession. There's also some publicity to be had in doing a tour like this, and it makes a good talking point for interviews and a good bit for the bio.

If you want to do a tour like this, some things to think about:

1. Plan ahead. Select bookstore-rich locations where you'll get the most bang for your buck.

2. Use your friends. The more people you can hook up with on the road, the cheaper and easier it is.

3. Priceline.com and Expedia.com. When you don't have any friends in a certain town, use the Internet to get the cheapest hotel rates.

4. Involve your publisher. You may not get any $$$ to tour, or any free books to give away, but keeping your publisher informed, and getting whatever help you can from them, is win-win.

5. Get a GPS and a smartphone with Google Maps. Often, doing a stock-signing tour takes you in directions you hadn't forseen. A current GPS and a phone (or Blackberry, laptop, etc) with Google Maps lets you find bookstores in your current area or on your route.

6. Eat on the road. It isn't the healthiest way to tour (unless you're Barry Eisler, who stops daily at Whole Foods while on tour and stocks up on nutritious stuff) but it will allow you to get more done. Keep a case of water and some snacks in the car with you.

7. Read my blog. That may seem redundant, since you're already reading my blog, but I've done two of these giant tours, and everything I've learned is in this blog. Read up so you can repeat my successes and avoid my failures.

While the Afraid Tour is over, I won't stop promoting Afraid. My new Jack Daniels paperback, Fuzzy Navel, comes out next week, and I'll be visiting many bookstores in Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana to support it. Naturually, I'll also be supporting Afraid. Ditto in July, when Cherry Bomb comes out in hardcover.

Touring isn't just for when your book is released. It's perpetual. If your books are on the bookself, signing them and meeting the bookseller is a no-brainer, even if the books have been out for a few years.

Besides Internet promotion, stock-signing is one of the most cost-effective ways to promote. As I said, it isn't easy, but what worthwhile things in life are? I've found that the most difficult and challenging things are the most rewarding.

Of course, a lot of people also say I'm nuts. But they've said that about a lot of forward-thinking people, like Caligula, and DeSade.

Here's a list of the remaining bookstores I have visited:

BN 5501 W. Broad Richmond VA

BN Glen Allen VA

BN 1150 Midlothian Richmond VA

BN 11640 W. Broad Richmond VA

BN Midlothian VA

Borders Glen Allen VA

Walden Glen Allen VA

Creatures & Crooks Richmond VA

BN Greensboro NC

BN High Point NC

BN Burlington NC

BN Winston-Salem NC

BN New Hope Durham NC

BN Renaissance Durham NC

Walden Four Seasons Greensboro NC

Borders Greensboro NC

Borders Winston-Salem NC

Walden Silas Creek NC

Borders Columbia MD

Borders Express Kensington MD

Borders Kensington MD

Borders K St. DC

BN Kensington MD

Borders Fredricksburg VA

Borders Arlington VA

BN Alexandria VA

BN Arlington VA

BN Mclean VA


BN Manassas VA

Borders Manassas VA

Borders 14th St. DC

BN 12th St. DC

BN Pratt Baltimore MD

BN Towson MD

BN Rittenberg Charleston SC

BN Mt. Pleasant SC

BN Rivers Charleston SC

BN Forest Dr. Coumbia SC

BN Harbison Columbia SC

Borders Market St. Charleston SC

Walden Columbia SC

Walden Sumter SC

BAM Columbia SC

BN Spartanburg SC

BN Woodruff Greenville SC

Borders Express Greenville SC

BN Haywood Greenville SC

Walden Asheville NC

BN Asheville NC

Walden White Marsh MD

BN White Marsh MD

Borders Wilmington DE

BN Wilmington DE

Chester County Book and Music PA

BN Exton PA

Borders Exton PA

BN Lancaster PA

Borders Lancaster PA

Borders Express Lanacaster PA

Borders Harrisburg PA

Walden Harrisburg PA

BN Camp Hill PA

Borders Camp Hill PA

Walden Camp Hill PA

Walden Uniontown PA


Stacey Cochran said...

Joe, I have to tell you. Your blog tour inspired me. I ended up setting up my own for 45 days starting last Friday. The momentum I've generated in less than one week is like nothing I've ever seen in my career, and I've sold more books this week than at any other time in recent memory.

You can read about my 45-Day blog tour here.

Anonymous said...

Having been Joe's chauffeur for one day in 2006, I can tell you Joe hits the ground running early and doesn't stop until the last stores close.

Worth it?

He's still getting paid to write, isn't he?

PokerBen said...

Your tour just goes to prove there are no shortcuts in success. Those who work for it, are the ones that get it. No magic pill.

JA Konrath said...

Your tour just goes to prove there are no shortcuts in success. Those who work for it, are the ones that get it. No magic pill.Actually, there's no proof that my way of doing things leads to success. I'm not a NYT bestseller yet, and no NYT bestseller that I'm aware of ever did anything resembling this tour, except Barry Eisler.

If I'm proof of anything, it's that hard work will help sell more books. It is entirely subjective whether or not "more" equals "enough."

Stacey Cochran said...

I'm not a NYT bestseller yetOperative word is "yet."

Joe, you are so on the right course it's not even funny.

PokerBen said...

I'm confident that you will get to the NYTBSL Joe. It will happen one of these days.

Sandra Cormier said...

Since one of my books is in just one bookstore, my tour last month was very, very short.

But I'll keep these tips in mind for the next time!