Massive book tour update: Part I

I'm going to dedicate my next couple of posts to finally updating you all on the tail end of my book tour. I've gotten to visit family and close friends, see my agent, Shannon Hassan (who lives in Boulder, CO)--all in the name of celebrating Fraulein M.'s release. Pinch me. Also forgive me--these posts are long overdue. In the midst of all of this, my mother got married, my daughter turned two, and my husband and I began planning a big move. It's been a whirlwind, to say the least, but a good one. 

So, the book tour, which I arranged for the most part, took me to seven states, a dozen bookstores, and countless book clubs. I've been on television in Cincinnati and Richmond, and I just gave a radio interview in Boulder (more on that soon). It's been exhausting and glow-y. I'm going to take a break from travel for a little while and nest. By "nest," I really mean "finally get back to work on the book I started last year." I can't WAIT. 

I know many people will wonder if the book tour was worth it. It certainly would have been easier to sit at home and run ads directing people to online retailers, and I have done a lot of that, too. But I'm going to agree with my friends at Grub Street that the traditional book tour is not dead. Or at least it can still exist in a modified form--perhaps writers and publishers shouldn't plan a cross-country, couple-dozen-city bonanza anymore, but I'm a strong advocate for visiting at least a few bookstores in different cities. Nothing replicates the experience of meeting booksellers and librarians face-to-face. These are the tastemakers of the industry, and they can give readers a far more compelling pitch for your novel than can an online algorithm. So by all means, if you have a book coming out, try to make that book visible online. But I also highly suggest getting out there, engaging local news outlets, and connecting with independent bookstores. Some--myself included--even view visiting independent bookstores as an act of political resistance. 

Also, a book tour is a great excuse to visit far-flung family and friends :)

In March, my little family took a long trip across the country to San Diego, where I gave a reading at a fabulous independent bookstore--the Warwick's in La Jolla. I was in good company that week:

Acacia, a bookseller at Warwick's, gave me a fantastic introduction before I spoke to a crowd of thirty or so people, which included my dad (who lives in Encinitas) and one of my best friends, who brought friends of her own, one of whom had a very well-behaved baby in tow!

With my dad after the reading.

With my dad after the reading.

And voila: my Warwick's event landed me on the San Diego Union-Tribune Warwick's bestseller list the following week. Here's hard proof that events and indie bookstores matter!

I hadn't been to La Jolla before. It is an amazing place. My daughter was delighted to see the seals and sea lions in coves along the coast. It was pupping season!!

Before the reading, my husband, daughter, dad, and dad's girlfriend and I had dinner on the ocean terrace at George's, which was surprisingly kid-friendly. It's way up on the cliff overlooking La Jolla Cove and offered an awesome sunset view.

Encinitas is also a lovely coastal town. We had fish tacos more places than I can count, but our favorites were at the Encinitas Fish Shop:

My daughter's grandpa treated her to a trip to Legoland California, which our little builder loved. Every morning we had coffee at Better Buzz Cafe, and then we'd walk on the beach. My daughter and I even got in a little light reading:

That's The Vegetarian in my hand--my author gift from my visit to Anderson's La Grange. I know blogs can be misleading, so I'll keep it real here. This mother-daughter reading session lasted no more than a minute before she was off chasing pigeons. But it was nice to imagine reading sessions to come. 

And speaking of author gifts, the good people at Warwick's sent me home with this, which I got to enjoy on a snowy evening back in Boston. 

They're the only bookstore I know of who have their own vintage. It was delicious. Talk about author swag.

A few nights after I enjoyed this wine, I received something even better: an email from a man I'd met at the reading I gave in La Jolla. He said, in part:

"My wife and I has the pleasure of meeting you at Warwick's Books in La Jolla. Just finished your book. I literally could not put it down. Now, it's my wife's turn. I know she will love it as well."

It was amazing to hear from this couple, who I of course remembered speaking to at the reading. They were delightful. I've heard from other readers as well, and I've even become Facebook friends with a few of the readers I've met along the way. These genuine connections definitely makes the travel feel worth it. 

So, those are my thoughts on book tours in general, and La Jolla in particular. If you have a book coming out, I highly suggest traveling at least a little, if you can, especially to places where you have close family and friends. Readers, if there's an author you'd like to meet, tell your bookseller. There's a good chance that author would love to come in for a reading.