The Book Tour Diaries, Madison
Dear So and So,
I am always pleased to find happy women running women's bookstores that seem to be alive and well. They are never millionaires and they could always handle considerably more business, but it's always refreshing to find ones that are not down and out. A Room of One's Own is far from that. And Sashe treats me like an old friend who's been off on walkabout. As I have been.
Last year the reading for A Room of One's Own was to a packed house. Seriously, it was standing room only and the audience came ready to laugh. It was heaps of fun, and also part of the Wisconsin Book Festival. This year, I missed getting into the festival, but came right before it. And I read to a crowd of six. And of that, nobody bought a book. However, the ones that did come came for a reason, and I liked that. One woman came because she wanted me to read her writing and consider her for an upcoming book, or at least give her some direction. Another had already tried to get into some TT books, was very interested in finding out more about travel writing, and even asked about the World is A Kitchen book.
The funny thing about doing author events is that, while several events can garner the same amount of excitement and enthusiasm, there are plenty others that require you to adapt. For example, I didn't need to do a big rock star gretting to Madison when I arrived. I changed gears and turned the chairs into a little circle so we could sit together. I asked everyone their names, and they helped me adjust, too, as I was barely able to sit. They suggested a rocking chair, and that worked better till I needed to stand.
Both of us adapted. The small audience, myself, and the store.
Don't feel sorry for me because of the low attendances, it's all about making the most of what you're given. Small audiences give more attention to the people that are there, and allow you to spend time with the booksellers who, after you leave, will have a lasting impression of you and will decide whether or not your book is worth their compliments when handselling. Authors should be prepared for small events and not let their egos get in the way of making friends who can help you after you leave. There's far more to be gained in making a friend with a bookseller than doing an event with 50-100 people once. If you're about to go on tour, look for positives in every aspect of your tour. Including having your book out on your table or in your hand while traveling to get to the event.
Back to Madison...After the event I had a delightful dinner with Frank Bures and his wife, Bridget. We laughed enough to make up for the previous two hours, and I was happy to hear about the lives of other freelancers, and those who have created their lives to suit a bigger picture. We met because of our mutual friends at World Hum, and I tell ya, it was nice to be so warmly received by friendly faces.
If you're in the area of Madison, WI this weekend, head on over to the book fest.
Here is their schedule of events.