I often receive emails, comments and messages from readers asking why I don’t come to their town for an author visit. This especially happens after I post the itinerary for an upcoming tour or I list an event on my blog or Facebook. No matter where I’m going, it seems the people who want to see me are somewhere else.
“Why aren’t you coming to my town?” they ask.
The truth is--I’d LOVE to come to your town—really, I would. I love to get out from under my keyboard and get out and meet readers. But even an author who is lucky enough to be sent on tour doesn’t generally get to decide where she goes.
The publisher makes those decisions. My publicist will usually ask if I have any suggestions. If I’ve been hearing a lot from, say, Denver readers, I will mention it. Last time, I actually got on my Amazon author page and looked to see where my books were selling the most.
The publisher will also look at the size of the market, what book sales are like there, transportation costs, etc.
Beyond that, bookstores fill out request forms for authors they would like to host. Publicists quickly get to know which bookstores, libraries, and schools host awesome events that bring a great turnout. You will see certain bookstores hosting one event after another—because they’re so good at it. And when I have a great experience in a city or venue, I let my publisher know.
My tours have been ~ten days long, meaning 8 or 10 cities. Plus some weekend gigs during the weeks surrounding the release. For efficiency and cost reasons, my tours usually focus on one region of the country. We try to switch around year to year.
Finally, if I’m aware of an event that would be the perfect place to showcase my book, I will ask my publisher to consider sending me. Sometimes my travel is sponsored by the bookfest/conference itself. For example, this year I’ve been to Dragon*Con, The World Fantasy Con, and several bookfests, including Books by the Banks in Cincinnati, The Buckeye Bookfair, in Wooster, OH, the Montgomery County, TX Bookfest, and the Spartanburg Teen Reading Festival in South Carolina. I will be at the TBF Live! Bookfest in Rochester, NY in May.
Cons and bookfests are a great place for readers to meet many authors at once. And it’s a great place for an author to introduce her books to potential readers.
Is there anything you can do to make it more likely an author will come to your town? Well, first, move to a major market. Sorry, but it’s true. Publicists want the most bang for their buck, so they will send authors where the most people are. If you don’t live in a large town, maybe there’s one within driving distance. Some times, ya gotta hit the road.
Tell the author you would love to see her, of course. Also let her know if you know of an awesome venue in your town, such as a bookfest or a great bookstore. Offer to make a pitch/introduction. It often means more coming from a reader than from an author.
Speaking of, support your local bookstores. If they close their doors, there’s no venue to host an author appearance. Get to know bookstore owners, librarians, and teachers. Join your community library’s teen board. Ask if they ever host author visits. Tell them you would like to see your favorite author in person. If an in-person visit isn’t possible, perhaps a Skype visit can be arranged.
Many authors are willing to do school visits. Generally, the school pays a stipend and travel expenses. Often schools join forces to reduce the cost. Even a small market can snag an author visit if it’s in conjunction with a paid school visit. I’ve visited very small towns in southern Ohio and rural Illinois where librarians and teachers ganged up together and hosted me. Often librarians and teachers can access grant money to pay for author visits. Remember--one person on a mission can be very powerful. I have had visits happen because of one determined teen.
What if your favorite author comes to your town? Do everything you can to get the word out. Encourage your friends to go, if they like to read. Attend the event yourself. Support the venue (and the author) by buying books. If the author has a great experience in your town, she will be eager to return. And it’s likely that publisher will send other authors your way, too. For example, I’ve been to Oceanside, CA twice because I’ve had great experiences there. I’m returning to TBF Live! This year because they rock.
There’s nothing worse than finding out your favorite author came to a town nearby and you missed it. Most authors have events listings on their websites, post upcoming events on Facebook and Twitter, or mail have email lists to notify readers. Follow your favorite authors and you won’t be disappointed.
If you want to receive messages from me about upcoming events and other announcements, you can join my Google Group on the front page of my website here or on my blog here
You’ll find a listing of my upcoming events here.
You can find out more about scheduling events with me on my website here.http://cindachima.com/Visit/Visit.htm