Many authors get really excited at the prospect of a book tour. I mean, who wouldn’t enjoy going from city to city feeling like a celebrity? It looks so dreamy on TV, right? But the truth of how to plan a book tour is that bookstores want you to bring traffic into their store. They’re hoping you have an audience who will come in to buy books. Not the other way around where they’re bringing buyers for your books.
If you remember, Borders bookstores closed in 2011 and many locations of Books-a-Million and Half Price Books have closed as well. Why? Because of the foot traffic and buying patterns of todays readers.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that people don’t read anymore. Quite the opposite. We still love books. In fact, over eighty percent of people still prefer to read a physical book and signing it makes it special. But in the same way that the online experience has changed how we find information, the way to do a book tour needs to change as well, especially if you’re in business.
Leveraging a book to get clients with ease is why my clients and I wrote our books, along with credibility and growing our reach. So the following is written for entrepreneurs who have a non-fiction book.
The Old Way
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Here’s a look at the traditional way to plan a book tour has been done in the past: You pick the cities you want to tour in and contact bookstores big and small, maybe even a book club or two as well. Then you’d pitch them on why you’d be wonderful as their guest author and you hope they can get their regular customers to come to your signing. You envision a line out the door. You pay for all your travel expenses and then not know if the audience who comes is your ideal client.
The reality? I don’t have actual statistics, but I heard the average number of books sold at a book signing is eight. I’m not sure that the royalties on that will even buy your meal for the day.
The old way to plan a book tour is an expense but the new way generates fans and income.
Since you’re an entrepreneur converting readers into clients, you know that income from a book is in the upsell from a book reader into your program, product or service (see my article in Writer’s Digest on this). So that’s what the new way of doing a book tour is based upon.
The New Way
Like I just shared, book tours can be expensive with travel, hotel, rental cars and food. If you think in terms of advertising cost, is the old way to plan a book tour the best way to invest in your business? I’d say it would cost you minimally $1500 per city on a no-frills budget. Think about how much you could you grow your reach advertising online with those same funds. At $3 per lead, you could have 500 names on your email list. Kind of makes you think, doesn’t it?
You can achieve the same results you’re looking for in brand awareness from a physical book tour as a targeted marketing campaign online. All you need is the right content to put out on social media. Plus, you can choose to market organically which would then cost you next to nothing.
2. Look for in Town Book Signing Opportunities
Plan a book took tour in your town and surrounding areas. You likely know more people where you live anyway. Find local bookstores that you can do signings at. Contact the local paper, local reading groups and other organizations and associations, regardless if you’re a member, to draw a crowd. While you still may not sell a 100’s of copies of your books or have a line out the door, you’ll have minimal cost, get a great photo opp and get better known in your local area.
Who knows? Maybe the local paper will even show up (if you tell them about it). Small towns love local authors.
3. Leverage Speaking and Do a Signing Afterwards
I don’t know any author who doesn’t also want to be a speaker. Plan a book tour in conjunction with your speaking gigs by leveraging the speaking you’re already doing and make sure you’re speaking on a regular basis. Think about it — which would you prefer to focus your time on? Applying to speak where you may also get paid or contacting bookstore managers?
So speak and sign books at the back of the room after you’re done. It’s simple – just ask the event coordinator for a free table. Many times they’ll offer it before you even ask if they know you have a book.
BONUS: Another way to generate income when you speak is to offer the coordinator your book as a swag bag item at a discounted cost. Bulk order of 100 or 500 or more — Voila!
4. Piggyback Book Tour Signings in Cities You’ll Already Be in
When you have a book, your tour never officially ends. Let your time in any city serve double duty when you plan a book tour. You might already be speaking there, going to a conference, or traveling with family, so you might as well preplan a short detour to bookstores, entrepreneurial organizations, or book clubs in the same area. Then there’s no additional cost (it actually becomes a business expense if you were traveling for pleasure), there’s no pressure to recoup the expense and you can purely do it for fun!
What are your thoughts on doing your book tour right? Comment below!
Vickie Gould is a book coach, content marketing strategist, best selling author, and speaker. She believes that everyone has a story to share and a journey orchestrated for their positive growth — and that those experiences should be written in a best selling book.
Vickie helps entrepreneurs to share their stories, self-publish and leverage their own business books, grow their following, create more impact and turn readers into clients through her Easy Writer Program, one-on-one coaching and her free Facebook Group, Write Your Biz Book.
Get her cheatsheet called 5 Secret Strategies to Write Your Book Quickly at: bit.ly/5secretstrategies.