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Hints from the Pros: More Book Tour Tips

Image by Karen Roe

Well, I’m home from book tour! And leaving again in a few days. I try to group events together to make travel (and child care) easier, but these things can be difficult to wrangle precisely. So a month after I visited five states from Wisconsin to Alabama promoting Girl in Disguise [1], I’m headed out to four more (Iowa, here I come!).

I’ve found the advice of fellow touring authors from my previous tour-tips roundup [2] invaluable on my travels, and since I received more suggestions than I could fit in a single post, I’ve got more to share with you! Without further ado, more brilliant ideas for authors on tour.

Alex George, on the road with his new book Setting Free the Kites [3], has two pieces of advice, both related to signing books:

  1. Always, and I really do mean always, check the spelling of every name before you inscribe. Even the most innocent and simple-sounding names have improbable variations – and the most surefire way of coming across these is to launch into the dedication without checking first. Some traps you’ll learn to spot quickly enough – does Alison have one “l” or two? – but others will defeat you every time. Sometimes the only option is to have them write it down. Case in point: last month in Birmingham, AL, I signed a book for a lovely Romanian lady called Zsuzsu.
  1. Have at least three or four stock phrases to include with your signature. These can be as simple as “Thanks for coming!” or “Hope you enjoy it!” – better yet to make a clever reference to the book itself, if you can manage it. The point is, you don’t want to have to think too much about what to say each time a book is presented to you. Of course, there will always be people who ask you to “write something funny” as if it’s the easiest thing in the world, and maybe it is for you. It’s not for me – so I always have a stock joke or two ready, too.

Amy Stewart, recently back from a tour on the other side of the world in Australia and also all over the map here in the US [4], has great tips for staying well and doing good:

1.  Never pass up a banana.
2.  Always use your own pen to sign books. Other people’s pens are covered in other people’s germs.
3.  Persuade your publisher (and yourself) to use the TripIt travel app.
4.  Take photos and do social media shout-outs for every bookstore you visit–and consider promoting another author’s book or upcoming event as a way to pay it forward.
5.  Do not attempt to get work done on the road. Showing up to your event on time, sober, healthy, and reasonably clean and presentable is your full-time job. If you do that, you’re free to spend the rest of the day watching Law & Order re-runs in the hotel room.
6. If you start to lose your voice, do as many of the following as you deem necessary:  No noisy restaurants. Insist on microphones even for small groups. No talking except for the event, and if you have to talk, just talk quietly, don’t whisper. Use cough drops and cough suppressants–avoid coughing and throat-clearing at all costs. Hot water with honey onstage–the lemon is useless. Run the shower in your hotel room to steam it up. (Wasteful, I know, but I won’t tell).  No alcohol. Minimal coffee. Lots of water.
7.  Publishers try to be nice and put you in charming downtown hotels, but if you have late night or early morning flights, you might rather stay at an airport hotel. Go over the itinerary with that in mind and ask them to change any horribly inconvenient hotels. After all, why do you need to be downtown if all you’re going to do is watch Law & Order reruns and eat bananas?
Personal testament on #2: I have been 100% bringing my own pens since reading this advice, and I haven’t even had a sniffle. And now I smile whenever I see a banana on the hotel breakfast buffet.
Got more tips? Keep them coming in the comments!

About Greer Macallister [5]

Greer Macallister's debut novel THE MAGICIAN'S LIE was an Indie Next pick, Target Book Club selection, and a USA Today bestseller, and has been optioned for film by Jessica Chastain's Freckle Films. Her novel GIRL IN DISGUISE, about pioneering private investigator Kate Warne, received a starred review from PW, which called it "a well-told, superb story." Her next novel WOMAN 99 is forthcoming from Sourcebooks in March 2019.