Control your own book tour destiny
By Lee Thomas
We’ve written several posts over the years about the emergence of DIY book tours, marketing and self-publicity (read them here, and here, and here). Not only do self-published authors need to get their hustle on, but writers who publish with small presses, or find themselves mid-level (or lower) on a big house’s list can find their book off the radar within months of a debut. Yet many writers find they’re woefully unprepared to find the right venue in Kansas City or drum up buzz ahead of time so they don’t show up to an empty house at an Austin coffee shop. Enter: BookTour.
Kevin Smokler, CEO of the site, formed the idea for BookTour in 2007, along with editor-in-chief of Wired magazine, Chris Anderson. Back in graduate school, Smokler had grown frustrated that looking up an author biography necessitated an actual trip to the grad school library. Why wasn’t that information available somewhere online? Even as the internet grew and tools like Wikipedia emerged, finding the stops on a favorite author’s book tour proved difficult, in some cases impossible. Forget about discovering a new writer, unless you happened to have the time to visit all the local bookstores and keep tabs on events. BookTour provides a centralized, easy-to-navigate online location for that information.
BookTour’s core segment? Mid-list authors down to self-published newbies, basically anyone with a book, but without a publicist who can champion that book for the author. “You know immediately if a book is going to be big,” says Smokler. But for all the worthy books that won’t make the best-seller list, BookTour provides a way for the author to extend the buzz around a new work for six months, a year – even longer.
Authors can create a page, find venues in a given city (Visiting friends in Albuquerque? Book a reading.), see what’s working for writers in their same segment, even find media contacts using “PressFinder” and become your own publicist. Readers, in turn, can keep tabs on which writers have readings scheduled in their city, and discover new authors making live local appearances. Many authors on the site use it in tandem with an author website, Twitter, and other forms of online connection with readers.
If you’re contemplating a DIY book tour, or even trying to market your new collection without leaving town, BookTour might be the perfect place to start.