Does The Internet Make Book Tours Irrelevant?

Book tours used to be mandatory for authors. If you wrote a book, you had to get out there to promote it, shake hands, kiss babies, pose for black and white photos of you staring off into the distance and maybe sign a couple of copies. But now with the power of the internet and sustained web presences, book tours have waned in importance. In fact, some authors almost refuse to do them anymore. Self published guru JA Konrath wrote a great post about why he really doesn’t do too many appearances anymore. Others cite financial costs and the convenience of promoting your novel from the comfort of your home/transcendentalist shack as reasons for saying no.

I would personally be afraid to go on a book tour. I think it’s because of a persisting fear of sitting in an empty room with no one to sign books for. That just scares me to death and I know it’s not an irrational fear. Even a superstar author like Neil Gaiman had an incident where he went to a signing and no one showed (apparently it was in France and the bookseller told no one about Neil’s appearance and had only set it up as a means to meet Tori Amos through Neil, but still…).

The expenses associated with a tour would also cause me to balk at going through with it. It can be very expensive depending on where you go, how you get there and how big your entourage (whichever of your friends/significant others you can convince to come along and pose as your publicist/bodyguard/adoring fan depending on what the situation calls for) is.

Then again, I think there is undeniable power in meeting someone in person, shaking their hand and exchanging a few words with them. Sure, receiving an email response from a prominent author is nice, but it can’t compare to good ol’ human interaction. And the seed placed in meeting just one person can have ramifications you may never fully understand. Maybe that one person recommends your book to an entire book club. Maybe they are Oprah’s doorman, who happens to be her go-to guy for book recommendations. You will never be able to tell unless everyone who buys your book fills out a survey of how they stumbled upon your work.

What about you? Do you believe you can promote your book effectively in your pajamas while watching reruns of Modern Family? What is your most effective internet/social media promotional tool? Have you ever been on a book tour? How was it? Did you feel like it paid off? Have you been tricked into any book appearance in France by manipulative booksellers, only to find out they really just wanted to meet Tori Amos?

0 comments to Does The Internet Make Book Tours Irrelevant?

  1. Shawn Lamb says:

    The best place for me to sell and promote my books are events where people go to buy books. Since I write YA fantasy, I go to home school conventions and book festivals. Book signings are hit and miss while social media helps get the word out in a broader sense, but nothing beats the personal one-on-one exchange between author and reader in a welcoming environment.

  2. P.I. Barrington says:

    If you're not good at one on one interaction (like myself)social media & online promotion are a good way to promote although it can be and usually is a full time job especially if one didn't grow up with the concept of texting! One drawback to online promotion is the inundation of outlets from blog tours (haven't done one myself) to guest posting on sites and trying to sift through them to find the most effective one for your genre'/books. Another author told me to pick my battles so to speak, but it's outrageously difficult to stay on top of the latest trends/outlets!

  3. Kate Evangelista says:

    A bit, I guess. I mean, using the net for a tour isn't as expensive as actually being at a venue.

  4. shaeeza says:

    Thanks for the follow Conor. I think about book tours a lot and I know that I am not a speaker. I can speak everyday to my kindergarten class, but I am visibly quaking in my boots at the thought of speaking to people about my book. I have never been on one and I am using social networks to plug my book. I know I would want to personally speak to people to get face to face reactions. Great blog post!

  5. Conor says:

    I feel the same way, Shaeeza. I have no problem conversing with people one on one, but once the attention is placed solely on me for an event like that, I would become flustered and say foolish things that would not impress book buyers. Really interesting to hear from people who have gone on tour though. Home school conventions and book fairs sound like interesting places to promote. Great insight, Shawn.

  6. Conda V. Douglas says:

    I think that there's still a place for book signings, but now they have to be more "events" than just somebody sitting at a table signing books. Readings, a free workshop from the author, something.

  7. Conda V. Douglas says:

    PS: I shared this on facebook because it's an interesting question right now for us writers.

  8. Conor says:

    Thanks for the insight and the repost, Conda. I would love to get some more opinions on the subject.

  9. titania86 says:

    As a reader, an email or comment from an author is wonderful, but it's nothing compared to meeting the author and talking to them. I look for book signings all the time and it's one of the coolest things about living in LA. I hope that authors don't completely replace book tours with the internet.

  10. Conor says:

    I hope so too, Titania. I don't want book signings to disappear overnight. You cannot deny the marketing power of the internet, but as you said, it can never fully replace the experience of meeting an author in person.

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