Most of what I have to say on this topic will be applicable to my fellow publishing industry personal assistants. Learn, oh peers, from my pain.
1. If you want a cohesive tour, you would’ve had to start six months before you even thought about picking up your phone. As soon as you have press materials and ARCs, those bookings need to happen. Otherwise, it’s sort of a scattered flower garden, and not a 1800s presidential train ride full of babies to kiss and banners at every stop.
2. Call everyone. Call everywhere. Especially shops that market to your authors genre. Is there a bookstore focused on spirituality in town that will take your author’s book that fits in the self help genre? Call them! Your boss write a mystery? Check and see if there’s already a niche bookstore in town. While hitting broader-base bookstores is excellent, niche stores are gold for people who care about the genre your author writes in.
3. Do your homework on stores. Example:
While calling around booking events one lovely summer, I called a bookstore on my list.
When I brought up the genres of the books I was setting up tours for, the event manager told me that one of the books was “popular genre fiction” and they “didn’t deal with such things.” I didn’t do my homework thoroughly enough to know the bookstore in question was on the literary end of the market. Don’t be me! Don’t make the rookie mistake of not being absolutely sure what that next bookstore on the list is.
4. Develop a relationship with the event managers at bookstores whenever possible. Whether you’re setting up a one-shot reading in the area your author is from or a full-fledged tour, try to know these people. Be courteous, get them the information they need in a timely manner (ISBNs, press info, etc) and do what you can to help them. Even if you run into people who are less than polite or helpful when setting up a reading, you shouldn’t be snippy or unkind in return. Everybody has an off day, and you may have run into someone on their off day.
5. Don’t just do bookstores. Coffee shops, restaurants, theaters, galleries, your options for where to hold a reading are not necessarily limited. Just be mindful of the factors that go into it–how many authors are involved, how big a crowd you could expect, noise level, parking, acoustics.
This guide is bound to grow in time, but those are the first five things I’d wished someone had told me when I’d started out.