Monday, June 29, 2009

On the Road

I’m on my Southern Book Tour. I've heard about the promotional travels that F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway would take. In those days, authors would move from city to city, stay at the poshest hotels, eat five-course meals, drink to the wee hours, all at the publisher's expense, and then give thought-provoking readings of their newest works to rooms full of fans, rapt with wonder at the pearls being shared with them.

Today you’re at Motel Six with a free breakfast buffet of donuts and coffee, all on your own dime. Or more likely, you’re sitting at your desk in your pajamas and it’s a virtual book tour where you move from blog to blog.

There's something reassuring to know that whether you're on The New York Times best-seller list or still struggling to make a name for yourself, book tours are the great equalizer. Check out the fun web site, Jack Getze, author of the Austin Carr mystery series, recalled a conversation he had with award-winning Robert Crais, creator of the Elvis Cole mysteries. Crais told how he recently arrived at a bookstore for a long-scheduled event, only to find the place empty and none of the sales staff aware of who he was. “When I found the manager, he offered me a job application.”

And yet, whether’s it a four-star hotel or the Holiday Inn, what makes these outings worth it are the mystery fans you meet along the way. That’s the big payoff. They love the genre and I often get fantastic suggestions for new writers to read. Of course, some of these meetings are the fodder for future book scenes. For example, I ask people in the audience to name their favorite authors. One woman detailed a lengthy list and then explained that that she used to read a certain famous writer, but had stopped because the newer books had “gotten too dark.” I agreed and laughed that I didn’t need to read books to get depressed. The woman nodded and added, “I’m on Prozac and I don't want to do anything to counteract that!”

And then there are the mega-buck payoffs (and that’s a figure of speech rather than any actual dollars). One woman told the Southern half of Evelyn David that she had never read a book for fun until she picked up our first mystery, Murder Off the Books. Reading our sequel, Murder Takes the Cake, would then be her second book finished. The idea that we might be part of the reason someone becomes a reader -- now that’s the stuff of book tours.

Here are the details of the rest of my travels. I’m bringing chocolate to all events!:

June 29, 7 pm
Middleburg Library
101 Reed Street
Middleburg, VA

June 30, Noon
Dorchester County Library
303 Gay Street
Cambridge, MD

July 1, Noon
Mystery Loves Company Bookstore
202 S. Morris Street
Oxford, MD

July 1, 7 pm
Delmar Public Library
101 N. Bi-State Boulevard
Delmar, DE

Hope to see you on the road!

Evelyn David


  1. Good luck with the tour! I've written my first novel and I'm editing right now. I have another friend who is a self-published author, and I've accompanied her on some of her book signings. Even if it's a slow sales day, there is always someone who stops by and completely makes her day. Some fans just stop by to say hi or tell her how much they love her books. Last time there was a lady who drove 3 hours just to meet her, and she and I both will never forget that!

  2. I've never gone on a book tour like you're on. Just never had the stamina to plan one.

    I love bookstores, but find I do much better with sales when I can give a talk--libraries, etc.

    I am a glutton for punishment though, and do a lot of craft and book fairs which are all day events. Next one if the 4th of July and it's supposed to be really hot.


  3. Since I started attending conferences and book signings I've found that I'll often read somebody's work simply because I liked him/her. Most writers are super nice people, love to talk about books, and are very approachable. I want them to succeed and I also feel curious to meet their characters. I'm sure all these folks you meet along the way leave feeling glad they had an opportunity to meet you and many will be excited to read more. Good luck with your travels!

  4. Thanks for mentioning me, Ms. E.

    Also on these tours, sometimes you make a neat connection -- like my boss did with Robert Crais. Accidental, serendipity, but he made a contact. That tour story has been on the web for two years, and still has life. And this fall, Spinetingler will be running an interview the boss just did with RC. You never know who you'll meet and make a connection with -- if you're willing.