How to Plan a Book Tour

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The book tour is to an author as a concert is to a musician. Just like there are bands that fill major stadiums, there are those that start on small publicity tours in bars and show halls. The same idea exists for you as an indie published author! You have just to figure out the best route for you to achieve your goal. You want your book to reach the maximum amount of people and in order to do that, you are going to need to sell it. And I don’t just mean sell copies of your book… I mean you are going to have to be the professional salesperson peddling your book town to town and before everyone you meet. Who knows, it might just find its way into the hands of a renowned publisher or film maker. Do you know how to make sure it won’t? By not getting out there and selling it! So let’s get started on getting your book into as many hands as possible in order to maximize your success.

1. Tell your story, twice.

I can never say this enough, if you aren’t blogging about what you are doing, then you are setting money on fire. Every moment of your life is an opportunity to be making enough income to finance your dream. Doing something as interesting as writing a book and especially going on a book tour is absolutely the perfect moment to capitalize on public interest. If you are blogging about your process, how you are getting where you are going, and especially the details of your book tour, you are not passively making money through advertising on your blog or building an awesome subscriber list!book tour

When you take the time to tell the story of you telling your story, you make money twice. You can be making money by taking people through the process of creating your book and money through book sales and speaking fees. Each one of these moments is an unique opportunity to create a real buzz about your upcoming title. Now, if you are aren’t interested in your book actually making money and you just want to write it so you can make a super sweet dedication to your mom… well, you can certainly do that! But if you actually want to make money with your art, then the only way to actually do that is by diversifying your streams of income. The easiest way to do that- no matter if you are photographer, author, or makeup artist- is to blog about it. If you aren’t set up to blog your experience, and have intentions of creating wealth, please start here.

2. Before you click publish, get ready.

I think a really smart choice is deciding to go the self publishing route. For the same amount of money you would WASTE sending your manuscript off to a bunch of publishers who do not understand or get you, you could literally publish your own work. (And that means you become your own boss!) Yes, that does mean you have to pay for your own editor, cover design, and you’re now biting your nails because you’ve put it all out there! But it also means you are reaching maximum profits from your work. Instead of an editor or publisher getting A LOT off the top each time you book sells, you are now making 100% of your profit after gross. That means you were smart enough to pay an editor a one time fee and be done with it.

I know you’re giddy that your manuscript has gone through its final edit, formatting, and the cover looks sharp and unique… but you need to set up your book tour! You heard me right, you want to set up your dates before you hit publish on Amazon.

Many book reviewers, blogs, and physical locations will not care about your masterpiece six months after it has come out. They want something fresh and new. The only way you are going to be able to stretch the success of your book is if it sells 10,000 copies in the first month and now you are in high demand. There are ways to make that happen, but its going to cost you. Instead, you need to begin setting up your book tour dates well in advance of publishing your book. I suggest that you start setting up tour dates two months ahead of the publishing point.

3. Pick your venue, not a bookstore.

Having your book signing at a book store is probably your fantasy. Feeling the great authors staring at you through their pages at Barnes and Noble seems like the whole reason you wrote your book! But guess what? That is basically the worst place you could ever set up your book tour. Book stores are doing everything they can at this point to stay open. Unlike other businesses that are looking for any moment to get people in through the door, book stores have basically one purpose, sell books! If you set up at a bookstore, all that extra money you are making by not having an publisher, is going to be sucked up by their requirement to make 40-70% of your book sale during your tour. They are also extremely difficult to book!

Instead, it’s best to find your niche. Are you putting out an amazing new horror-thriller? Well, set up a tour of costume stores during Halloween season. Did you write a murder mystery? Ask a group of murder mystery troops if they will let you have a booth set up at their next show!

What possible incentive will all of these amazing places have to let you use their space for free? The power and influence of your professionalism as a blogger and social media tycoon, of course.

4. Cross promoting because sharing is caring.

Well, you’ve got an amazing and professionally built blog by now. You’ve built a solid and dedicated audience on social media and because of your blog, you’ve got a very good list of subscribers to your newsletter. Because of this, your niche venue will be happy to invite you to join them, because they aren’t just inviting you! They are inviting you and thousands of your loyal fans!

Any business person worth partnering with on your book tour will know the value of an artist who can bring their own audience. You aren’t asking them to promote your event, that is your job. You work for yourself and that means you are powerful! You don’t need the venue to promote you, you already have a dedicated audience in each town you are going into who wants to consume your material. You just need a venue to host your event.

This is why it is so important to keep track of your stats across all your social media platforms and on your blog. Keep your highest hit points from each month so you can show off the results you can produce to those who you are asking to share the space with. Trust me, they will see the value in having a professional book tour come through their space.

5. Get the message out.

Two months before your your book is published is an ideal time to start setting up your tour. You will need time to negotiate dates with each location you plan to meet with. The last thing you want to do is make your venues feel rushed. You also want to make sure you aren’t competing with too many different things happening in a community over a weekend. So make sure you are taking the time to look at each city’s calendars, and that you aren’t booking the same weekend as the County Fair or when Sam Smith is going to be in concert. You are a big deal, but you’ve also gotta know your limitations!

Before you send out your emails to perspective venues, you will need these three things:

A) Professional looking press kit

B) Pre-screen proofs of your book and ebook

C) Press page on your blog

Select between 10-15 locations that fit your demographic in each city you wish to tour. Send them a cover letter in an email, attach your press kit and let them know what dates you are going to be in their area. It is always best if you can give them a couple of options to choose from. Keep a detailed list of everyone you wrote and be sure to give them a follow up call if you don’t hear back from locations. The message is just a an intro. Remember, you are selling yourself.

6. Publish your book.

It is finally time to publish your book. This is the moment when all of that hard work you’ve done is finally going to pay off! You’ve put yourself out there, you’ve edited, read and re-read your manuscript, and edited some more! You’ve put your book before the toughest audience of all, your friends and family, and gotten their feedback. So go do it! Push that publish button because you deserve it.

Bask in that moment.
NOW GET BACK TO WORK! You’ve got a book tour to get to.

7. Don’t forget all the details.

square book tourIn the middle of all this hectic planning for your book tour, there are a couple of other major things (other than pushing publish) that you need to be focusing on that you absolutely can not live without:

Make sure you are maintaining your social media accounts. Instagram your successes, funny faces, and lots and lots of photos of your coffee mugs. You are talking about your struggles and fears on Facebook, posting videos of you talking about your process and tweeting every little emotion you are feeling. You’ve got to keep your audience engaged.

And of course, above everything else, all of your social media is leading everyone back to your blog, because that is what is funding the success of your book. You aren’t afraid about this tour because you’ve built an amazing subscription list through your blog and you know you have an engaged audience who genuinely wants to come hear your words and purchase them!

8. Gotta get that product!

Okay, so you need to order your cases of books. No one wants to be stuck with thousands of copies of their book dry rotting in their closet. Set reasonable goals of how many people you anticipate to come to each event and order about half of your tour’s needs before the tour begins. If you plan to set a personal goal of 50 copies per location, and you are doing ten stops total, then you are going to need 500 copies of your book. Order 250 and bring the entire stock with you each weekend. If your first weekend you are blown out of the water with 100 copies sold, then you have a better understanding of your demand and this gives you enough time to order more copies before the next location.

Basically, you don’t want to order so many that you end up getting stuck with a huge stock of books, but you also don’t want to accidentally sell out! So keep track of what you are doing and plan accordingly.

9. Start locally but think globally.

It is time to start your book tour and if you are going to do it right, the best way to do it is with some major fanfare. Not only will this get you pumped, but also it will give a great opportunity for you to thank everyone who helped you get this far: Your friends and family. Celebrating with a local book tour launch is the best way to start. Set up a local venue and invite all your friends, family and local fans. This will give you the opportunity to test everything out with a soft opening of your tour, and give you an initial financial boost before you drive off into the sunrise of your success!

10. Once you are done, there’s more to do!

If you truly are an author, then you don’t want to stop at just one book! You’ve got thousands of manuscripts floating around in that head of yours! Each stop on this tour can become a stop on your next one! So it is very important that you build and keep good relationships with each and every venue you interact with. Be sure you arrive early, stick around to help make sure everything is cleaned up, and don’t forget to tip wait staff. If you are going to be successful, you’ve got to build a good relationship with everyone you meet, and that means treating people with dignity and respect.

Finally, when you get home, be sure and send a hand written thank you letter to each location. Then you also want to send them out a survey in email asking them how the experience was for them, ways in which you can improve, and again thanking them for allowing you to use their location. If you show a venue that you are always willing to improve, even if something didn’t go 100% as planned, they will likely still welcome you back. Just keep a constant open door communication going on with management and staff.

Well, you’ve completed your first successful book tour! Now its time to get back to blogging and writing out your next manuscript. Because the more you blog and write out those books, the more money you are making, and the closer to reaching your maximum success!

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