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The Tragical Mystery Book Tour (Part 1)

The Tragical Mystery Book Tour (Part 1)

Writer and New Yorker cartoonist Bob Eckstein just lately set out on a e-book tour of his personal devising. On this three-part collection, he outlines his expertise, classes discovered alongside the best way, and what up-and-coming authors may anticipate from their very own excursions.

Illustrations by Bob Eckstein

It has a horny ring to it: ebook tour. However I can inform you most writers afterward are doing extra bemoaning then regaling, and for that purpose publishers are fairly reluctant these days to ship their authors on the market until they’re a star, and even then it may be dicey.

I truly did mine completely alone, and whereas it’s not a full-blown e-book tour, stopping at main cities each different night time, it in all probability resembles what nearly all of writers’ e-book excursions appear to be. That stated, I’d wish to share the teachings I personally discovered from the street of arduous knocks.

Sept. fifth & sixth, 2018 Brimfield, MA: Brimfield Antiques Present 

That is the nation’s well-known flea market and one of many largest. It was a bizarre method to kick off the discharge of my new e-book, and with sweltering warmth reaching the 90s that week, buyers weren’t considering of snow nor prepared for a guide on the historical past of the snowman. My writer had no information of this. It was a good friend who was a supplier who requested me to hitch them at their sales space. I drove there 5 hours every means and stayed with a cousin for every week.

Virtually everyone who got here by to cease and speak with me purchased a guide, however sadly only a few discovered their approach again to our distant tent promoting Christmas decorations, situated a half a mile off the street, within the two days I waited. And I spent extra money buying than I made on my 9 guide gross sales.

1) By no means consider anybody who guarantees a ‘ton of sales’ at a ebook tour as a result of anybody who actually is aware of Publishing is aware of you’ll be able to’t make that promise, and

2) individuals don’t need to carry a e-book the remainder of the day at a good or flea market.

On the plus aspect, I did a paid piece for a magazine on the flea market which I Illustrated, and the journal requested me to do extra in consequence. I used to be interviewed by a TV present and two publications. I met the Steampunk King and crashed out one night time in his superb Steampunk house. And final, however not least, I dined twice at Bernie’s Eating Depot in Chicopee, Massachusetts. Dinner is in a classic railroad automotive with old-school parts and costs. Prime rib lunch was $13 and the dimensions of a Buick. The greatest diner I’ve ever been to and virtually made up for the 2 misplaced days.

Sept. 30th, 2018 Milford, PA: The Milford Readers & Writers Pageant 

I used to be invited to do a one-hour panel on the Milford Theatre for 4 figures. I made a decision to ask two different New Yorker cartoonists and share the paycheck to make sure I crammed the 300 seater, and we got here shut (tickets have been $35). I even had cartoon legend George Sales space as a particular visitor within the viewers. I figured if my present was successful, it might be value it as a result of I’d be invited again and it will appeal to extra ebook consumers for afterwards. It was successful, and I’ve been invited again.

The headliner was Alan Alda, who was superb and a delight to satisfy. He’s a younger 82, nevertheless it was nonetheless unsettling to see that at his age he was schlepping to e-book occasions. He had just a bit extra in attendance. Book sales-wise we have been represented by an area bookstore (Black Canine Books, Newton, New Jersey). They introduced my principally new The Illustrated Historical past of the Snowman ebook and ran out of the small handful of my New York Occasions bestseller Footnotes from the World’s Biggest Bookstores—the attendees have been extra conscious of my book-themed e-book. I ran to my automotive to get extra bookstore books I had stashed within the trunk whereas the bookstore was caught with two packing containers of snowman books. Sort of out of guilt, I provided to do a guide occasion at their retailer in December to assist transfer them, and I purchased 10 copies myself (at a reduction) as I wanted extra anyway.

The takeaway right here? Book festivals are crammed with individuals prepared to purchase books, particularly in the event that they’re about books and bookstores. That’s their wheelhouse. I’m reminded of this lesson each time I get snookered into promoting books at a brewery or a zoo. Additionally, I used to be sensible to disregard the cash and give attention to the product. The CSPAN crew advised me it was the funniest program they’ve ever filmed.

October 10th, 2018 Honesdale, PA: The Cooperage Challenge Theatre 

From the beginning, I informed the organizers I assumed a Wednesday afternoon was a nasty concept for a time. It was a fundraiser for the general public library, and there was a $10 cost. I braced myself for eight individuals displaying.

The small Cooperage Theatre was full of 80, together with my mother, who had by no means seen me do a ebook occasion earlier than. I waited 30 years for that second of validation however it was a bit trickier having to host her (she stayed at my home which is thirty minutes away) whereas juggling what I used to be going to do, which is establishing my pc and sound with the venue’s projector.

Although I deliver a back-up on a thumb drive and have a Dropbox hyperlink for the venue in case of an emergency, there appears to virtually all the time be a second when, for no matter cause, the pc and projector can’t make a handshake or one thing is off. I’ve been to different guide occasions reliant on a Keynote present solely to observe the entire viewers ready for an hour for the projector to work.

So I all the time plan a time prematurely to go to the place and check out the gear as a result of even then you may be hit with surprises—like “someone took the projector.” I additionally pack a TV within the automotive to play the present as a Plan B. I’ve had the blood drain from my face when displaying as much as a bookstore to study the display and/or projector disappeared.

I exploit the pre-visit to all the time drop off handmade posters for the occasion, bug them about contacting native radio stations to rearrange interviews with me, gather particulars for guests just like the parking state of affairs, and ensure they ordered sufficient inventory. For this occasion I introduced my very own and bought near $1,000 in gross sales. The library raised an equal quantity. That they had unfold the phrase among the many group and have been right that the seniors confirmed up in pressure. One other key was that there was an unlimited unfold of cake, cookies and refreshments. Library volunteers made a lot of the baked items into snowmen protecting with the theme of my guide.

As I do with each occasion, I despatched a thanks to the organizers later and shipped thanks presents to all the general public library volunteers—on this case, a field of books for the library and 7 framed cartoons of mine.

It’s extra stress to cope with gear for a e-book occasion, however as soon as it’s up and operating it’s far simpler to have visuals enjoying to entertain your viewers behind you than simply studying out of your e-book. At every occasion, the gang was laughing at considered one of my cartoons inside a few minutes, and one can really feel the viewers lean again and loosen up. You need your viewers to really feel you’re very assured with out being cocky.

November seventh, 2018, New York Metropolis, Higher West Aspect: BookCulture

Once I begin, I all the time inform the viewers what the schedule goes to be and what to anticipate. This, together with humor, eases your crowd and will get them in your aspect—a tip I discovered from seasoned bestseller Tracy Chevalier (Woman With a Pearl Earring). I additionally discovered from her that authors at that degree do an exhausting schedule of e-book occasions and don’t let their foot off the fuel pedal. The key lesson I discovered speaking store together with her was that it was by no means sufficient.

I received this gig at BookCulture as a result of I did a packed occasion there a few years in the past and I’m simply an e mail away from getting one other date right here. That confidence disappeared quick. This time I used to be reminded of one thing a author suggested me about guide occasions: 99% of the viewers is your loved ones and pals. Regardless of a point out within the New York Occasions within the morning, this was my smallest displaying and raised the query, “Don’t you love me?” My Inbox was full of apologetic associates explaining they couldn’t make it, and I had been unable for the primary time to land any radio spots, one thing that I observed was exceedingly harder inside this Trump information cycle authors are competing with. I let the frustration of a smaller crowd impact my efficiency, one thing I promised I might by no means let occur once more.

And signed the additional inventory left over and thanked them profusely. They gave me a pleasant BookCulture tote bag and advised me they thought-about the night time a hit.

Finish of Half 1 of three—Keep tuned for extra!

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