The New “Normal”

For weeks, months it seems, so many elements of the book tour felt up in the air. I have been fortunate enough to hire two kind, connected, literary professionals (both based in Portland, Oregon) to help me with publicity and the tour. But even the most savvy, skilled person can’t make someone else hurry up…let alone an entire English Department, Board of Directors, or–as the case sometimes is–one headstrong, uber-focused individual. And then all at once, like spring itself, the yes’s start coming in. Two weeks ago, my book tour manager of amazing-wonderful-super-sweet-proportions secured my book launch at the one-and-only Malaprop’s Bookstore in Asheville, NC. This store has a great history, a strong following, and a tradition of hosting award-winning authors for events. Since that breakthrough, so much else has fallen in place. Off the top of my head…

May 1 interview published on Alan Gratz’s author website
May 1 online presale launches through my website
May 14 radio interview in Asheville
May 26 radio interview in Asheville
May 27 radio interview in Asheville
May 27 book launch and signing at Malaprop’s in Asheville @ 7pm
May 31 Necessary Fiction publishes “research notes” essay about Flashes of War
May 31 Flashes of War mentioned in Memoir (and) Journal’s “Editor’s Note”
June 2 reading and signing at Penland School of Crafts @ 4pm
June 10 reading and signing with author Abigail DeWitt at The Celo Inn @ 7:30pm
June 18 reading and signing with author Louise Hawes @ Interlochen Center for the Arts
June 23 reading and signing at People’s Books Cooperative in Milwaukee, WI
August 7 reading and signing @ Interlochen Center for the Arts
August 13 reading and signing with author Benjamin Busch in Michigan
September 6 (tentative) reading and signing at City Lights Books in Sylva, NC
September 12-14 featured author at Carolina Mountains Literary Festival in Burnsville, NC
October 10 reading and signing at Oakland University in Detroit, MI @ 5pm

(And this doesn’t even cover reviews, which should be coming out anytime between now and mid-summer…or additional interviews which I’ve done via email already and am waiting to hear back about regarding publication dates…)

As these pieces have fallen into place, we’re finally freed up to focus on the Pacific Northwest leg of the tour, where we have lots of leads. Leads are great, support is great, and I couldn’t do it without either…but in the end, what I really can’t do it without is a book tour manager who has a level head and a knack for detail. The person I’ve hired has all that AND a delightful sense of humor (thank you one thousand million times over for that), so I’m learning and laughing and celebrating all along the way.

Well…that “celebrating” part is only partly true, which brings me to this notion the new “normal.” Each time an event has rolled in, I’m struck with flashes of fear and anxiety. Not because I don’t enjoy giving a hearty public reading. And not because I think it’s too good to be true. But really, because each event moves me closer and closer to this big, unknown something also known as a book tour, which from everything my author friends tell me, is going to be one hell of an emotional roller coaster. I don’t want the roller coaster part of it, though. I had enough of that when I put my life on the road for three years. 

My mom keeps telling me to “Embrace it! Enjoy it!” And Dad says, “This is the new ‘normal’! Soak it up while you can and remember that this is what you wanted!” They’re both right, but the type-A Capricorn in me still seizes up when news comes in….How will I afford the plane ticket? Will I find housing or stay in a hotel? Should I rent a car? Will there be food I can eat and affordably access? (I have severe, lifelong food allergies) If I sell 10 books, that won’t even cover gas, should I still go? How long will I have to be away from home and how will that affect my personal life? Who will introduce me? What should I wear? What if I get lost and am late to my own reading? What if someone is angry about what I have written and publicly, verbally attacks me?

I’ve blogged all along about the publishing process and the steps to getting that first book contract. I’ve blogged about hiring a copyeditor and going through revisions. Likewise, on hiring a publicist. Next up, I suppose, will be blogging about this great unknown of the book tour, and piggy-backed naturally on top of that, book distribution and sales. I’ll try to organize my thoughts as soon as I can assimilate each experience. For now, I’m all pins and needles…and more in need of advice than in a space where I can rightly offer any to others just yet.

Anyone else holding on tight? I sure am. This feels like it’s going to be one heck of a learning curve…

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