by Charlaine Harris
In spring and fall, authors circle the bookstores of America like—well, I don’t want to say like buzzards around a dead thing. That might imply that I think the conventional bookstore is moribund, and that’s far from my belief.
Every year, when I publish my schedule on my website and on my author page on Facebook, I get many plaintive questions: Can you come to Omaha? Can you come to northern New York? Why haven’t you been to Australia? Will you ever come to Miami?
Here’s the thing. Many readers don’t believe me when I tell them I don’t arrange my own tour schedule. Some writers do things differently—they may join forces and work out their own itinerary—but I go on a tour set up by my publisher, who pays my expenses.
On some tours, I’ve done almost all Barnes and Nobles. On some, a mixture of indie and chain stores. This time around, I’ll be at all indies.
I’m not completely sure what criteria my publicist uses in choosing bookstores. I’m sure the bookstore has to have a track record of hosting mid- to large events. Sometimes, the store guarantees the number of books sold—at, say, a luncheon or some other ticketed event. And there are geographic considerations, too. I have to be able to get from point A to point B on time.
Is touring glamorous? No. It’s bookstore, hotel, airport. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Is it a privilege? Yes! It’s so flattering when my publisher wants to tour me, and I’m grateful. Do I enjoy it? Yes AND no. I love to meet the people who read my books. An overwhelming majority of my readers are are articulate and intelligent, and they have made the effort to come because they are glad to meet the woman who wrote the books they enjoy.
Every now and then I get real yo-yos, of course. But mostly, even they have good will.
So if you can turn out at any of my stops, I’ll be glad to greet you and talk to you. I can’t shake hands. I have arthritis, and some peoples’ grip is just too tight. Signing the books will be the extent of my ability. But aside from that, count on a warm welcome. You’re the reason I’m where I am. Thanks.