The Book Publicity Blog

News, Tips, Trends and Miscellany for Book Publicists

For authors on book tour, one event per city or many?

A fellow emailed in yesterday, calling it a “missed opportunity” for an author to be speaking at only one event in a city, when he could be speaking at five or six.  But what this reader calls a missed opportunity is what book publicists might call avoiding disaster: unless you happen to be touring J.K. Rowling or Stephanie Meyer, more events in a city aren’t necessarily better.  Here are a few reasons why:

Geography.  Some cities are pretty spread out — most notably San Francisco and Los Angeles — and can easily support more than one event.  In other cities, it’s possible to do an event in the city proper (in Boston or in DC, for example) and another in a suburb (in Cambridge or in Arlington) since urban and suburban audiences tend not to overlap for the most part.  In many cities, however, it’s standard practice to hold only one event, since venues tend not to be far apart and multiple venues only cannibalize each others’ audiences.  Some lecture venues even have authors sign contracts stating they will not give other public talks in the city in the same time period for this reason.

— Genre.  All chain stores and most independent bookstores carry a wide variety of genres.  This does not mean they sell a wide variety of titles equally well.  When it comes to author events, many stores find that certain genres are more successful than others in drawing crowds.

Author availability.  Authors have a myriad of commitments and many simply don’t have the time to spend multiple days in multiple cities.  So an author who gives us two weeks for a book tour isn’t going to spend five days each in two cities; they’re going to spend one or two nights each in eight or 10 cities.

Media interest.  To make the best use of the author’s time and our money, we try to schedule as many media interviews as possible when an author is in town for an event.  Depending on the author, we can fill one day with interviews (although realistically, sometimes an author may only do one interview — or none — in a city).  If five events are scheduled over several days, that leaves a lot of thumb-twiddling time.

Logistics.  Five events take five times as much time to schedule as one.  Five nights at a hotel cost five times as much as one.  We need to weigh the potential audience and sales of multiple events against the time and money it takes to schedule them.  Sometimes it’s worth it; sometimes not.

***

This post deals specifically with the issue of scheduling multiple author talks in a city.  For more information in general about how and why author events are scheduled, click here.

And for some happy news about bookstore events across the country, check out this story in The Boston Globe  tweeted by Wendy Hudson of Nantucket Bookworks and this one in the The Seattle Times sent along by media escort Joy Delf.

April 2, 2009 - Posted by | Book Tour, Bookstores, Events | , ,

3 Comments »

  1. An author should NEVER twiddle her thumbs while on a book tour. Mine was 2 weeks over last summer and every moment I wasn’t doing an event or interview, I had the media escort take me all across town for stock signing. I was amazed how many of the escorts said, “Oh, most authors don’t do this. They just hang out by the hotel pool.”

    Signing stock is so much more valuable than just signing stock. You go into the stores, meet some of the staff and chat (briefly – they’re busy!) with them. They are much more likely to handsell a book they know about, written by an author they met (who was nice, of course, and in my case, I hope, funny, since my book is supposed to be). I estimate I did this in over 100 stores and really believe this contributed to my book going into 6th printing within a few months.

    Comment by Queen of the Road | April 2, 2009 | Reply

  2. With some of our young readers authors, we do try to book 2 events in a day in a single city: one at a school during the day and one at a bookstore in the evening, often with stock signings in between. But keeping an author in one city for more than 2 nights to host multiple events is not usually a good use of the author’s and publisher’s time or resources.

    Comment by lisa | April 2, 2009 | Reply

  3. We also find that bookstores want an exclusive for the area for an event/signing. It makes sense for them–lining up two events in the same city and diminishing the audience for both events makes bookstore owners unhappy because the event is no longer worth their time and money.

    Comment by Alice | April 4, 2009 | Reply


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