World-weary authors will talk about their book tours with bleary eyes and gravely throats. But I do love my little tours, although they cost me money (don’t be fooled into thinking they pay for themselves or that anyone else will pay for them for you  — unless you’re already famous). And now that I’m nearly done with mine, I’m pretty damned tired. But I think they are a necessary part of being an author these days. For me, they are the best way for me to increase my readership, especially since so many of the people interested in reading about this part of the world are the people who are already here.
This is what I like about book tours:
* I love meeting readers
* I love seeing new places
* I really like hotels and trying new foods and restaurants
* I love meeting new people, even if they’re not readers
* I really love talking about my books and my subject, i.e. Cambodia
* I’m always amazed at how many like-minded people there are, once I get away from my desk and start talking
This is what I don’t like about book tours:
* writing endless emails to set up events and then rewriting them because people don’t respond to the first one
* technology fails
* carrying around box loads of books
* making and then keeping track of endless travel arrangements in multiple languages, time zones and currencies
But the things I dislike about them don’t come close to what I like about them. And actually, as a writer, I find it very helpful to be alone and in that zone where you’re away from the known, never really sure of yourself, and even more of an outsider than usual. Also, answering questions about the how’s and why’s of my work is very useful. Book tours challenge me in every possible way. And to me, that’s important.
So here’s where I’ve gone and what I’ve done on this tour:
* Siem Reap: Besides the teaching and meetings with NGO’s, 2 readings; many workshops and endless informal conversations
* Phnom Penh: 2 readings/power point presentations, one school workshop, 1 national newspaper interview
* Bangkok: 1 library reading/lecture, 1 book club presentation
* Singapore: 1 University lecture, 1 writer’s group presentation, 4 meetings/dinners with other teachers/writers/volunteers/friends, 1 university club reading/presentation
* Kuala Lumpur: 1 radio interview, 1 university reading/presentation
I’m in Singapore now on Friday, and will be all finished and heading home to London on Tuesday, so I’m almost finished. And what has been the result of all this? I’ve sold 3 boxes of the new novel, Out of the Ruins (actually, I’ve run out of books too soon. I could have used another 10 or so). I’ve sold about a box of the first Cambodian novel, A Clash of Innocents. I’ve even sold a short stack of both poetry books, Dreams of May and Her Life Collected. So although these sales figures won’t show up in the Neilsen listings because these are books I’ve bought from the publisher at my author’s discount and then have sold on my own, I know that I have reached a couple of hundred readers. I’ve had national coverage in two countries, and local coverage in two others.  I’ve reconnected with old friends and contacts, and made even more new ones.
This year of publication will be all about these kinds of tours. When I get back to London I’ll start again with setting up more events in the UK and also the States. It’s a crazy life, but I’m so glad I’m able to do it.
Other posts in the From Contract to Shelf series:
The Cover and the Blurb
The Head Shot
What’s a Book Rep?
How to Wait
The Website