Okay, we’re going to rip the Band-Aid right off here — what we used to think of as a “book tour” is really no longer a thing. If you’re in the process of writing your first book, you’re probably aware that in addition to book sales, your income will come from appearances, presentations, and talks. But what exactly is it, and how do you organize it? We asked our book-writing colleagues, and this is what they had to say.
Organizing a Successful Book Tour
Back in the old days, an author would write a book and their publisher would send them out on a multi-week book tour. We actually don’t remember those days, and maybe those days were never a reality for garden book authors, but the idea that the publisher organizes and pays for a book tour is still out there.
Today, the reality is that when your garden book is published, it’s really up to you as the author to organize a tour, a series of appearances, presentations, book signings, and talks. If you’re lucky, your publisher will help you with this, but most often, they’ll simply support you emotionally or give you any leads or tips they have.
The good news is that your colleagues have been through this, and we’ve gathered their best tips for you here:
- Book large venues first. Seek out major flower and garden shows, conferences, larger venues and book them first. Many larger venues and industry shows will cover your expenses (travel and hotel) so you’re not on the hook for that.
- Fill in with smaller venues. Once you’ve booked the large venues, canvas smaller groups in that area and offer them a good deal. Your expenses are already taken care of, so these smaller groups like garden clubs can fill in your time and add to your income in the process.
- Add book signings/readings at local bookstores. You may not get paid for these (in fact, you’re almost guaranteed to not be paid) but book signings and readings are great ways to boost book sales and connect with your audience.
- Enlist the help of colleagues. Ask your fellow garden writers/speakers/authors for suggestions of venues, clubs, and shows. They may even recommend you personally to organizers and program managers, and that goes a long way.
- Make sure the venue has enough copies of your book. If you’re driving to a venue, you can bring your own books, but if you’re flying, ask your publisher to send books ahead of time. Very large venues will do this on their own, but ask prior to the event to avoid any unnecessary disappointment and frustration.
- Have backup equipment with you. If you are offering a presentation, we strongly urge you to bring your own laptop with appropriate cables and cords for connecting with a projector, your presentation on a backup thumb drive, your presentation saved to Dropbox, and any other device that ensures your ability to deliver your presentation successfully. Read our blog post “Creating a Presentation Kit” so you don’t forget anything!
- Search out garden clubs. Garden clubs in your own radius are great ways to connect and get the word out about your new book. Make a list of those in your area, contact the program managers or send them a message on Facebook if they have a public page.
- Build in photo shoot opportunities. You’ve probably heard the phrase “everything is content” for content creators, and when you’re an author/photographer, the same applies with photography. If you’re already in a city for a speaking event, check out their local botanical gardens, amazing public spaces, and possibly even some private gardens if you’re lucky enough to get an introduction. Remember to take all kinds of photos from large gardens, small vignettes, individual plant pics, insects, and art/accessories. You never know when these will come in handy for your next blog post, book, or article.
- Remember to post on social media. Create a graphic in Canva detailing your “Spring 2023 Appearances” with cities and dates, then post to your social media profiles and send out in your next newsletter. While you’re on location at an event, post liberally about how excited you are, what you’re doing to prep for your presentation, and how amazing the venue and program managers are. And did you tag all of them in your post? It’s just good manners!
- Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Traveling and speaking can take a toll on your physical and mental health. Stick to a routine as much as possible, seek out hotels with decent fitness centers, take morning walks, do yoga in your hotel room, and bring your own healthy snacks along with you. Schedule in time alone so you don’t feel fried and exhausted. Support your system as much as you can to avoid experiencing the post-travel blues and illness.