Part 1 (Prep, Angst, Anticipation) - Part 2 (Meeting Michael Ian Black, B&N event in NYC) - Part 3 (Simon & Schuster meet-and-greet) - Part 4 (Porter Square Books, James Patterson grant) - Part 5 (Northshire Books Saratoga, Division St. Elementary, final wrap-up)
I confess I had mixed feelings when Simon & Schuster Children's told me I was going on a book tour. Excitement because oh my gosh, MY FIRST BOOK TOUR.
But also terror because holy cow, MY FIRST BOOK TOUR.
But most of all, I so appreciated the fact that my publisher believed in me and the book enough to send me out on their dime. I know how rare that is these days, especially for a relative newbie like myself.
Thanks to my sister, Kevin Sylvester, David Diaz and other experienced presenters whom I consulted for advice before the trip. Your words of wisdom and encouragement helped boost my confidence levels.
In this Book Tour report, in addition to giving the highlights, I'll also do my best to tell you anything useful I've learned plus things I would have done differently if I could do it again.
Before the book tour began, my publicist at S&S (Katy Hershberger) reached out to bookstores in the selected areas. When those came on board, she began approaching schools in those areas as well. The idea, I believe, was that the bookstores and schools could work with each other.
Sadly, we didn't get any schools to sign on at first. Major reasons: It was spring break for many of the schools in the selected areas, and standardized testing week for others. Minor reason: the title ("NAKED!") was making some of the schools nervous. I so wish these latter schools could have seen copies of our book so they'd know they had nothing to fear.
It's one of the reasons I hired Marcie Colleen to do a Teacher's Guide for NAKED! (and she did a fantastic job). I knew from the beginning that the title of the book would be both a blessing and a curse -- while kids seem to universally love the title, it makes some conservative parents a wee bit skittish, at least until they actually read the book and see how innocent and fun it truly is.
When the bookstores were confirmed, I set up a NAKED! Book Tour Page as well as interviewing indie booksellers Sarah Rettger of Porter Square Books (Cambridge, MA) and Rachel Person of Northshire Bookstore Saratoga (Saratoga Springs). I was in direct contact with the indies, which was fun; we talked about what I'd be doing and the children that would come to my bookstore presentations. My publicist was in contact with Barnes & Noble.
I decided to arrive in NYC on the Monday so I'd have a full day to acclimate and do last-minute prep before the first event, and stayed with some friends. They took me to a fantastic restaurant called Hospoda, yummmm. I will spare you all the food photos I took. :-)
During this extra day, which also happened to be the official LAUNCH DAY for NAKED!, I checked out the Barnes & Noble venue ahead of time:
and was thrilled to see the book on the shelf:
and an Events sign in the children's section as well as on the main floor behind the cash registers:
Another reason I was sooooooo excited about the B&N event -- I'd get to meet Michael Ian Black! Michael and I had already talked on the phone about what we planned to do in our presentation and had also emailed in the past, but we had never met in person before.
What if I went into über-fangirl mode and started babbling about how much I loved his book YOU'RE NOT DOING IT RIGHT or his tv series STELLA or THE STATE? What if he decided, after meeting me, that he NEVER WANTED TO WORK WITH ME AGAIN? After I all, I had just discovered that he could draw:
I was distracted from all my angststress, however, when I checked into the hotel that Simon & Schuster Children's (or rather Katy Hershberger) had arranged for me, because there was a fishtank in the lobby of Dream New York:
and a tortured pastry:
a moon in front of the elevators:
and my room had a glowing blue desk!
But best of all, JEFF had taken time off work to fly to NYC so he attend our event at B&N YAAAAAAAY:
I have to say that having Jeff around for the first bit of the book tour made a HUGE DIFFERENCE in my confidence level for the B&N event, and that good karma stayed with me the rest of the trip. THANK YOU, JEFF.
We had dinner together at a friend's place before crashing early.
The next day -- THE NEXT DAY -- I'd be doing a presentation for kids at BARNES & NOBLE. In NEW YORK CITY. With MICHAEL IAN BLACK. (!!!!)
Really wish I could have put that moment in a time capsule and sent it back to myself in the lean years when I was just getting rejection letters.