Tag Archives: Book Tour

The Finish Line – The End of a Book Tour

She hears the hoof prints, she teeters on the edge/this is a race, a line she refuses to cross –Debbie Okun Hill from the poem “The Finish Line” – Tarnished Trophies (Black Moss Press)

Merry-go-round at West Edmonton Mall, Canada

Merry-go-round at West Edmonton Mall, Canada

An author’s life is like a merry-go-round! I wouldn’t call it glamorous but it can be exciting! You grab onto the book tour reins and hope you don’t get too dizzy and fall off the saddle. When I started this literary journey, all I wanted to do was to explore the creative world through the comforts of my home. However, the reality is that once your book is published, you are often thrust outside your comfort zone and into the business field where, if you are not careful, you can lose sight of who you are or where you are going. Below are some lessons I learned along the way:

1) Everyone has a unique voice that deserves to be heard. We are all special in our own way. Be kind to each other.

On the Great Canadian PoeTrain Tour to Vancouver. Special thanks to the League of Canadian Poets and the Canada Council for the Arts and it's Poetry Reading Tour.

On the Great Canadian PoeTrain Tour to Vancouver. Special thanks to the League of Canadian Poets, the Canada Council for the Arts and it’s Canada Reading Tour program.

2) It is impossible to please everyone. Even the best writers have a critic. If someone doesn’t like you or your work, listen to what they have to say and then move on. You will eventually learn who you can turn to for support.

3) It is impossible to do everything. Budget your time and focus on your most important tasks first.

4) Roll with the flow. Perfection is unrealistic. We are not robots but human beings who can and do make mistakes.

5) Take time to make new friends. We learn from each other.

6) Hold onto your true friends. They will always be there for you.

7) Take time to breath.

8) Continue to find time to read and write.

9) Be yourself.

As my book tour draws to a close, you may find me hibernating behind my computer. But first, there are a number of blog posts I still wish to share….people I’ve met and experiences I’ve had. Thank you for your patience in advance. It’s been a crazy month.


Book Tours – Are You Ready?

“Breathing/so darn difficult, slow motion/craving oxygen, another bottle/quick, so much confusion/like sucking air through straws” – Debbie Okun Hill*

Roll out the suitcases. The spring 2015 book tour season has arrived. For some poetic bookworms, the thought of planning a tour produces adverse reactions similar to climbing Mount Everest. Breathing is so darn difficult!

STOP HERE! Organizing a book tour can be a steep learning curve!

STOP HERE! Organizing a book tour can be a steep learning curve! P.S. This is not Mount Everest but a mountain range in western Canada.

Not everyone likes an adventure, no matter how small. However, if you are a published author, you will need to decide whether a book tour should be part of your marketing plan. A tour can help create awareness of your book and reach markets that you normally wouldn’t be able to reach otherwise. Keep in mind, travelling is time consuming. Planning and promotions also cut into your reading and writing time. Your friends and family may question your absence at normal gatherings.

Below are some tips I have learned on my journey! I do not profess to be an expert. Other authors may have other views based on their experiences. I welcome your thoughts and suggestions in the comments section at the end of this article. Let’s call it an exchange of ideas!

Plan Ahead: Start planning your tour as soon as your manuscript is accepted by a publisher. Your release date can change so don’t carve anything into your day timer until the books are in your hands. However, you can create a list of contacts and map out a rough route. Get a feel for the deadlines and what various reading groups may be looking for. 

Put your plan in writing: What do you wish to accomplish? Is your goal to sell books or to create awareness of you as an author? This will help you to stay focused.

Nail down your audience: Who will buy your book and where can you find them? Are they writers or are they readers and book buyers? How can you reach them? Think outside the box. Local library book discussion groups are often overlooked. Some writers have found success at festivals, arts shows, church gatherings, and local service groups.  Much of it depends on the type of book you have written.

Create a list of possible locations: Book tours can be local, provincial, national or international in scope. If you are a first time author, start small in your hometown or place of residence then expand outwards as you become more experienced.

Decide on a budget: Unless you are a well-known author or are a member of a professional writing organization (ie: League of Canadian Poets or Writers’ Union of Canada) it is unlikely that your publisher will have a travel budget for you.

Seek out funding sources: Both the League of Canadian Poets and the Writers’ Union of Canada has funding available for reading fees and travel. Check out their websites for additional information. Applications must be submitted well in advance. Thus, the need to be organized and to plan ahead. Another option: start your own slush fund by saving your nickels, cutting out daily expenses such as coffee at the local shop or scaling back your cell phone charges.

All Aboard! Consider travelling with a group! Photo courtesy: The Great Canadian PoeTrain Tour website.

All Aboard! Consider travelling with a group! Photo courtesy: The Great Canadian PoeTrain Tour website.

Treat your tour as a vacation: The cost of travel will often outweigh the revenue generated from book sales and royalties. If you consider your travels as a vacation, then your expectations are more realistic and your disappointments are lower.

Treat your tour as a business: This may contradict the above tip but like with all businesses, you still need to keep tabs on your budget. Also, be professional and courteous to your host or anyone else who helps you. This is not the time to burn bridges. 

Lighten the load: Work with various literary groups. For poets, there are numerous reading series and organizations who welcome readers to their events. Sometimes all it takes is quick e-mail expressing your interest. Some writers insist on a traditional snail-mailed letter, followed by a phone call. Experiment to determine what works best for you. Also, consider networking at open mic events. Most literary events will have a regular audience as well as a marketing plan in place.

Find a travelling buddy: Find a compatible travelling friend to share travel and accommodation expenses with you. For example, a writing friend organizes duel readings so that his writer-wife may also be featured at the same venue and time. Make sure you travel well together or the trip will be frustrating for both individuals.

Tour as a group: Watch for opportunities to travel with other writers. Often there are group discounts for rooms, flights, trains, buses. You will have to share the limelight with others, but in doing so you will gain valuable friendships that can last a long time.

Be flexible: Travelling can be challenging and sometimes flights get cancelled or readers become ill. Consider the weather-related problems associated with travelling during winter months, especially in Canada. A sense of humour is helpful. If possible have a back-up plan.

Expect the unexpected. Have a sense of humour and roll with it.

Expect the unexpected. Have a sense of humour and roll with it.

Remember to promote the tour: Even though your publisher and/or reading host may advertise the event, be prepared to do some of your own promotions via traditional local media and your own social media networks.  Where possible coordinate your efforts so everyone is aware of what is going on. Use of attractive graphics and photos will draw the reader’s eye to your message.

Learn from your mistakes: Mistakes happen. Learn to deal positively with those set-backs. Some venues will generate more sales or a larger audience than others. Discover what works for you. When you fall, get up and move forward.

Learn to Say No: Know your limitations: financially and emotionally. Determine what works for you.

Have fun: Planning a book tour is time-consuming but it can also be fun. Enjoy the journey. Should you decide to pick up the challenge and climb Mount Everest, remember: “Crampons on boots/one step in front of the other*….”  Let’s go….

Announcing my Spring 2015 book tour here.

Draw attention to your book tour with promotional graphics!

Draw attention to your book tour with promotional graphics!

See my 2014 travels here.

*from the poem “Reaching the Summit”, Tarnished Trophies (Black Moss Press, 2014) Reprinted with the author’s permission: Copyright ©2014 Debbie Okun Hill.

Why Bother with a Media Release?

Call me a dinosaur! When I first started working in public relations, one of my first tasks was to write a media release. I would compose the draft release using an electric typewriter, and then a secretary would re-type it into a final format, photocopy it onto 100 sheets of business letterhead, and then stuff the releases into envelopes with a stamp for snail-mailing. The year Canada Post went on strike, my boss and I spent the day travelling through the city to hand deliver each and every release.

Today, news can be facebooked and twittered, blogged and text messaged. Some might even want to pick up the phone and call. I still prefer the old-fashioned media release in e-mail format! These are my reasons:

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