Book-Tour: a verb meaning to live in airports, airplanes and hotels while whisking about the country, drinking in gulps of countryside that remains beyond reach. Also: to connect with audiences across the country about a book you have written that is very close to your heart and soul and to feel each “thank you for writing this” as a deep and lasting warmth.
Three days ago, I finally sat in a chair and put my feet up in my own house and looked at my husband and my dogs and said, “Yes. I am home.” I have just completed my first book tour. It was at once a most exhilarating and excruciatingly exhausting experience. It made me realize fifty times a day that I am no longer young. It made me realize a hundred times a day that I am among the luckiest people in the world. Although sometimes, lugging suitcases up stairs, rushing across poorly marked airport terminals to make flights, or praying frantically that I would not get lost or crash my rental car on the way to a reading, the former realization crowded out the latter. A wise and experienced author, referring to Book-Touring, told me, “No good book goes unpunished.” In my darker moments, I thought I must have written an extremely good book. She also gave me many good hints for making the process easier. I was in the midst of learning the hard way everything that could be done wrong, I did. Perhaps this post will save some angst for those lucky enough to embark on a similar ritual. Below is a partial list of mistakes to avoid.
1. In the weeks before your tour starts, believe that you will have armloads of free time, so take on as many projects as you can fit on a ten-page to-do list. Let your agent talk you into sending a draft of your next novel. You have not yet completed this draft. You are not even close. Still: promise.
2. Don’t sleep. Embark on this journey as sleep-deprived as possible. You want to deepen those dark circles under your eyes that make you extremely self-conscious about your age and your appearance and require lots of concealer. You have never worn makeup before. Learning the art will involve many mistakes. Don’t cry when you stare at the clown face in the mirror; your wrongly applied mascara will run, and you will not yet have learned the secrets of removing that makeup you don’t know how to apply. Also, the stress and sleep-deprivation will ensure that you are sick before the end of your first week of Book-Touring. This, in turn, will make you sound like Mickey Mouse when you read your serious work. Sickness lingers. Honey is hard to find; don’t even think about packing it.
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