February 11, 2013

The DIY Book Tour

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Over the past few years, I’ve hosted more than 100 events with readers in eight countries. There is no “author school” where one learns to do these things—it’s very much been a make-it-up-as-I-go process.

I’ve also received a lot of questions from other authors, aspiring authors, musicians, artists, and other readers who like the idea of taking their show on the road.

In this (long!) post I’ll share a few stories, highlights, and lessons learned from the past three years of coordinating and hosting book events. I hope something here will be helpful to anyone who hopes to reach more people with their message.

Beginnings: The AONC Book (September 2010-January 2011)

I began event #1 in New York City on the day my first book launched back in September 2010. Over the following three months I traveled to every U.S. state and Canadian province, meeting readers at every stop.

The venues for this first “Unconventional Book Tour” were quite varied. I went to a lot of bookstores, but also stopped in at plenty of other unconventional venues arranged by readers.

Among other places, AONC readers and I gathered in a Pilates studio (New Haven), coffee shops (Wilmington, Lexington, and Louisville), a pizza parlor (Anchorage), a bed and breakfast (Atlanta) an art gallery (Lawrence), a farm (Nashville), a heavy metal concert hall (San Francisco), a grocery store (Minneapolis), a couple of corporate offices (Arlington, Philadelphia), and numerous co-working spaces.

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We had as many as 200+ people (Los Angeles, Portland, Vancouver, Toronto, and others) and as few as four people (West Virginia). I traveled by plane, train, bus, and rental car—sometimes riding along with a friend or my brother Ken, who joined me for a few stops in the Great Lakes area.

Putting together the itinerary, especially for the U.S. portion, was a project in itself. I took an atlas with me during the previous year’s Annual Review and divided up the country into regions. The plan was to do all of New England on the first leg, all of the Midwest on the second leg, and so on.

Everywhere I went, I connected with dozens of people who had been reading the blog or had heard about the book. Many of these relationships are still in place now, and I continue to hear fun stories from people about tour #1 wherever I go.

Biggest lesson of book tour #1: if you’re thinking of doing something big that involves going on the road and connecting with people, don’t hesitate! It’s worth it.

ChrisGuillebeau

Book #2: The $100 Startup (May-September 2012)

Starting in New York and ending in Portland, I went to 18 initial cities on the first $100 Startup tour, including a quick hop over to London for the U.K. launch. Then I went back for Canada and several additional U.S. cities before hosting the second annual World Domination Summit in Portland.

In some ways, the process was much the same as the first tour, except this time we scaled up a bit. At most stops on the initial $100 Startup tour we had at least 150 people, and often many more. In contrast to round 1, where a number of smaller stops were conducted by roundtable conversation without a microphone, this time I always spoke with a microphone, and often from a stage.

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After the first round of cities, I headed out on another small round of stops including San Diego, Orange County, Chicago, Minneapolis, and Omaha. This second round was also a great experience, but by this point I felt like something was missing with the model. At each stop I knew great people who all offered to help in advance, but due to so many other things going on, I was often delayed in getting back to them. I also didn’t know what to ask besides “Show up! Bring someone!”

Surely we can do better, I thought. This sense of mixed feelings (so much potential! but I’m so busy!) led to the creation of the new model, which we just debuted in eight cities across the U.S. over the past couple of weeks.

New Model: January 2013-Present

With the benefit of 90 or so events in hindsight, and as I was thinking ahead to some long-term goals for 2014 and beyond, I realized we needed to make some changes in the tour. The biggest thing I needed was an actual process. (File under: obvious.)

It’s fun to hang out with a bunch of people in a pizza parlor and make it up as you go—the maverick or renegade story has always been a big part of the AONC narrative—but I also think you should be learning lessons and improving as you go along.

Thus, I realized that we should “go grassroots” and work more closely with local groups and organizations in coordinating the events. I’ve worked with co-hosts since the very first tour, but I wanted to involve them more in the process and create a structure they could adapt in their own way for their city.

To start, I created a form that prospective co-hosts or sponsors can fill out. –->

Then, as a test, we picked nine prospective co-hosts for an initial mini-tour, starting in California then continuing to the east coast, on to Nashville and Dallas in the south, with Columbia (Missouri) thrown in for good measure.

Each stop was officially coordinated by at least one co-host, often on behalf of a non-profit, startup, co-working space, or other organization. I did all the events for free, and wherever possible the tickets were free for attendees as well.

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Note: we’re currently planning a few more stops for the next mini-tour. If you’d like to nominate an event, you probably know how it works by now: fill out the form and let us know! So far I know I’ll be in Austin, Winnipeg, and Newark. More cities TBC.

I’ve been trying out this new model over the past two weeks. The verdict so far is that this new model is working mostly well, with one significant problem that I’ll mention later in the wrap-up.

Highs and Lows

Traveling the world has certainly brought a lot of awareness and knowledge, but there’s no doubt that book tour has changed my life too. It’s been incredibly fun and meaningful.

When I write blog posts and manuscripts, I think about the people I’ve met on tour, especially those who drive long distances to attend, bake cupcakes, or drag along friends. Book tour has also been great for seeing how multi-generational our community is. A lot of people assume that blog readers are mostly younger people, and that’s not the case at all.

A few cities on the first tour really surprised me. Lawrence, Kansas drew a bigger crowd than Chicago. Cheyenne, Wyoming was tiny—but in Missoula, Montana, a good-sized group showed up. Portland, Maine was one of my favorite stops, but almost no one came out in Burlington, Vermont.

I spoke at the flagship Borders store in Ann Arbor, Michigan right before it went out of business, and they were kind enough to make the book one of their most recommended titles of 2012. (Sadly, the whole Borders chain is now extinct. May they rest in peace.)

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Because every one is different, I don’t get tired of the events themselves. Some are better than others, but there are very few “bad” gigs. I do sometimes get tired of constantly shuffling from one place to another, worrying that everything is in order. And I do get behind on my other projects while touring, which creates a tension as I strive to make progress on more than one thing at once.

Once in a while, some kind of communication breaks down and we have a real problem. In Hawaii on the first tour, I showed up at the Barnes & Noble store that had been officially confirmed through my publisher. For some unknown reason, the event manager was not a fan. She refused to let the attendees sit down (!) and basically told me to take them somewhere else (!).

Meanwhile, readers were showing up in the front of the store, including some who had flown over from other islands and at least one guy who had come from the mainland just for the event. Thankfully, it turned out OK—one of the quick-thinking readers found a nearby bar that offered us a whole section to ourselves. As I walked out of the store I vowed never to return.

(Note: Many other B&N stores have been great! I think we just hit bad luck with one random event manager.)

In Australia, one of my favorite countries, it was my own publisher who went AWOL. Up to ten days before two events we were hosting in Melbourne and Sydney, there was no word on venues. Then another five days went by. Finally I showed up in Melbourne and tracked down my local contact on the phone, wherein I learned that absolutely nothing had been done to prepare for the 100+ people in both cities who were preparing to show up in a few days.

“We just don’t launch books in Australia,” my contact told me, before suggesting that a strip bar he had attended in Sydney might be a good place to hold the event. As exciting as that may have sounded to the publishing contact, for some reason I decided it wasn’t the best plan.

A friend in Melbourne ended up coming to my rescue for that city’s event, and in Sydney I ended up paying more than $1,000 to rent a last-minute meeting room at the Hilton. The hotel wasn’t an ideal space and I certainly wasn’t happy about paying for something we could have received for free if we had more than two days notice, but by that point I had no idea what to do and all future communication from the local publisher went unanswered.

Ironically, even though no one from my Australian publisher even bothered to attend either event, one of which was held less than a mile from their office in Melbourne, representatives from two other publishers who were fans of the book showed up. (File under: bizarre experiences and awkward conversations.)

I was depressed about the bad experience and almost wrote a long blog post telling the whole story, but in the end I decided to keep things positive. I had a good experience with the readers, and that’s who it’s all about.

I should stress that these two negative experiences are definitely the exception. After more than 100 events, I can say that 95 of them have been amazing, very good, or at least good. Whether at bookstores or publishers, most people who work in publishing do so because they love books and want them to be read. As an author I want my books to be read too, and I also want to be a good partner for everyone else in the business.

Lessons Learned

Here are a few things I’ve learned from all the different events.

Make it fun! A large number of people who come to the gigs have said that they’ve never been to a book talk before, which is great. I encourage readers to bring cupcakes and to talk to other people who show up. Sometimes they also bring muffins, brownies, or scones. In Nashville last week some guy brought Mac & Cheese—a long story.

I give a talk for 25 minutes or less, do another 25 minutes of Q&AA (Questions and Attempted Answers), and then we hang out. Wherever possible, I try to keep it conversational and informal. In Atlanta we had a New Orleans style marching band. Two weeks ago in Detroit there was an African drum show and a food fair of local vendors, many of whom had started their businesses for less than $100. (Great testimonial!)

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Co-hosts make all the difference. If a few people are on the ground in any given city making things happen, we’ll have a much better experience than if it was just me and a bookstore.

I can draw a good group on my own, but we’ll have a better time if there are more people who aren’t familiar with my stuff. Good co-hosts can make a huge difference, and I’m very grateful for the ones who go above and beyond in putting together a supportive environment for all our attendees.

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I’m no CouchSurfer. On the first tour I was trying to keep expenses low and stay as affordably as possible, which led to sleeping on couches or in budget motels faraway from the venue. Lesson learned: I don’t stay in people’s homes these days, and I don’t stay in many Motel 6′s either.

After the gig these days, if I’m not traveling on to the next city the same evening, I go crash at a hotel. Since I’ve missed most of the working day due to travel, I usually spend the next two hours working online at the bar or in my room. I simply have to do my best to keep up—if I fall behind, I end up letting people down on various commitments.

You’ll improve through repetition. While I’ve been touring over the past ten days I’ve been shifting small things in the talks I give. I recently read an article about how small shifts in delivery can create different responses.

In a good talk, everything is there for a reason. Right now I think the talk is 90% where I’d like it to be, but in a situation like this, the final 10% is everything. Therefore I keep working away and trying to improve.

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Possible Questions and Answers

Below are some questions that some people might ask, and an attempt at the answers.

Who pays for book tour?

It depends. For the first book tour, I paid for everything—all flights, hotels, ground travel, meals, and everything else. I honestly don’t think my first publisher believed me when I said I was going to visit readers in 63 cities. They eventually came around to the idea, but only after saying “You know we can’t pay for that, right?”

In the end it was fine, since I wanted to prove myself as an author. I believed that authors are responsible for the success of their books (more on this later) and I saw the first tour as an investment in my career. The whole tour cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $30,000.

For the second book, I changed publishers and Random House was smart enough to understand that these tours are critical to our mutual success, especially in the beginning. They were also smart enough to realize that the $100 Startup tour might go on for a long time—so we agreed to a deal where they paid for the first 20 stops (flights, hotels, ground travel), and I took care of things after that. It was essentially a good faith agreement, one that both of us were happy to make.

The $100 Startup is now in process of publication with at least eighteen foreign publishers. Arrangements for in-country visits or tours vary considerably. In some cases I receive an offer to come over for a local launch with everything paid for. In other cases I receive an offer to come over, but with only limited expenses covered. Finally, sometimes the translated book comes out somewhere, I never hear anything from the publisher, and I have no idea what happened.

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Is it worth it?

In the first few weeks after a new book comes out, when everyone is watching the bestseller lists and you’re trying to start with a bang, it’s definitely worth it. I focus on major cities during that time, and we’ll sell a few thousand books each week just through the actual tour. I’m also usually doing radio or other media in many of the stops, and some of that has an effect as well.

Where it gets more interesting is after those first few weeks. By that point, a lot of fans already have the book—so I don’t sell a ton of copies in the later stops, at least not directly. My royalty is approximately $3 per hardcover book, so if we sell 40 books at an event, I “make” $120 one year later… and I’ve probably paid $1,000 or more to fly to that city and stay in a hotel. Whenever possible we don’t charge for the event itself, and I don’t ask for (or accept) donations.

However, the real answer is: THINK LONG-TERM. It’s all about the career, not the short-term fix. My goal is to build real relationships that will continue long beyond any one project. In addition to traditionally published books, I make a good living from the self-publishing work I do. One thing relates to another, which is why you need an integrated, long-term focus.

Who is responsible for marketing?

I firmly believe that authors are always responsible for the outcome of their books. I will do anything and everything I can to ensure the book debuts well and (hopefully) goes on to sell for a long period of time. Anything the publisher does to help is a bonus.

Side note: consider adopting a version of this perspective no matter what kind of work you do. When you’re responsible for the outcome, you know you’ll make it happen, and you won’t be disappointed if no one else helps.

What if you’re afraid of speaking?

Join the club. The only people I know who are completely unafraid of public speaking aren’t very good at it, because they’re overconfident. I’m nervous almost every night before a talk, even if I’ve done it seven nights in a row. It gets better, though. You improve through sheer repetition and with the realization that most people in the audience want you to succeed. You gain confidence and improve in your ability to connect with people through presentations and Q&A.

The biggest lesson I learned about speaking was from Scott Berkun, who said something like: “Remember that the audience is on your side. They want you to succeed.” This perspective shift helped me a lot when I was getting started.*

*They’re on your side because they’ve come to the gig in the first place. They’re your fans, or at least they’re curious. Even if not, no one wants to hear a bad speaker … therefore they want you to do well.

What if no one shows up?

Having no one show up is the biggest fear of every author, bookstore, and publicist. It’s never happened to me but I came close once in New Brunswick. (I love most of Canada, but Fredericton was… interesting.)

The reason I have a signup process is to ensure that people will come—or at least, to ensure that they say they’ll come. The actual signup-to-attendance ratio varies a bit from city to city, but it’s usually at least 50%. If I have 200 people on any given list, I can feel confident that 100 of them will actually show up.

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Final Thoughts

I know that not everyone cares about the business side of being an author. But if you do care, I hope this is helpful. If you have any questions, post them in the comments and I’ll do my best to respond.

Like everything else I do, the books tours are in a state of continuous improvement. I’m still learning what works best and what should be changed.

One lesson from recent weeks: In the new model, we learned that we need to make a closer connection to book sales. It’s fun to bring together a hundred or more people in any given city night after night, but if it’s a book tour it should indeed be somehow about books.

I think I’ve figured out how to fix this. For future stops, we’ll be asking our partner organizations to purchase books in advance. They can then resell them at the events or simply give them away through sponsorship, but that way we know that a certain number of books is sold each night.

Of course, I should thank you—the readers—for making the tours possible. Without people who care about books, I wouldn’t have this career in the first place. Without going on the road, I could still blog and probably make a good living from my online products, but meeting remarkable people in city after city has added a whole different dimension to my work.

I also learned long ago that the best thing about the events is everyone else who attends. I try to mention this fact at every stop, and I especially enjoy when people connect with each other after coming to the gig.

In a time when publishing is constantly being reinvented, the DIY book tour model has been good to me. If you’re hoping to reach more people with your own message, regardless of whether you’re an author or not, I hope that something in this post is helpful or inspiring.

Comments here.

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*Another question I sometimes hear: why aren’t there any sharing buttons on the site? Don’t I want people to share the posts? The answer is that I just try to keep things uncluttered. But yes, if you like something, please do share it! :)

Comment on this article

48 Responses to “The DIY Book Tour”

  1. Thanks for sharing your insights and details, Chris!

    Similar message from the “Indie Author Publishing Conference & Pitchapalooza” this weekend in Phoenix. It is mainly up to you to get your work in reader’s hands. It is all about going out into the marketplace – not about waiting for it to come to you.

    But that is true for almost any business, right? Keep up the good work! Now, back to the writing… I appreciate the encouragement.

  2. This was absolutely fascinating. An inside peek at how an author thoughtfully and strategically goes about the business of selling books. I resonate with the idea of taking responsibility yourself to promote your work. It makes so much sense. Why haven’t more creative sorts (including me) gotten that message?

  3. Can’t wait until you make it to Austin. I love your work and am slowly progressing to doing what I love most.

  4. How embarrassing to read: “Lawrence, Kansas drew a bigger crowd than Chicago.”
    Although I am from Spain, I now live in Chicago, so I guess that makes the city a part of me. I can’t wait to see a great venue full of awesome readers next time you visit town. If not, there is always Madrid!
    All the best and keep up with such an amazing work!

  5. Thanks, all.

    @Elisa,

    It’s all good – the point is that smaller cities can sometimes do a better job *if* people take ownership and make it happen. I still like Chicago as well. :)

    @Nate,

    See you in AUS!

  6. As an aspiring author I really appreciated this article. I enjoy the way you share things from the heart. Your honesty and obvious sincere commitment to develop relationships which not only last but have lasting significance is very refreshing. Thanks for choosing to
    share your findings with us all.

  7. I so admire your writing style, Chris. I’ll bet lots of people feel a personal connection with you and that’s because of your comfortable, breezy, offbeat manner. Congrats on your ongoing success and thank you for your classy handling of my subscription issue.

  8. Thank you Chris for recapping so fully your experiences while conducting your DIY book tour. Co-hosting you in Cincinnati while you were on tour for The Art of Non-Conformity was such a pleasure. Looking forward to more adventures to come.

    Best wishes,
    Matt

  9. This post totally makes me want to write a book and go on tour – DIY style. I’m just saying that because there may or may not be cupcakes.

  10. Thanks chris for all inspirations, I have and read your book in Tehran, IRAN. You are one of my heros these days.

  11. Thank you Chris, great article. When my book Meet to Marry A Dating Revelation for the Marriage Minded launched in October 2011, I too funded my own book tour, but it was nothing compared to yours….lol It was so exciting and wonderful to meet new new person in person, eye opening to learn how it all works and that it’s really up to us to create the success and momentum. I too had a talk scheduled in a Barnes & Noble that only a 3 people came for and others with a 100 people. You’re so generous to share your journey so openly and candidly with us. I was disappointed to learn that WDS sold out so fast, but next year, I’l be there.

  12. I’m releasing my first book in 2014 and I will also be funding my first book tour so it’s good to know it can be done.
    Did you fund your first book tour exclusively from your own money? Or did you go out and raise capital?

  13. February 11, 2013

    Leonie Barton

    HI Chris, I am so sorry that Australia “didn’t have their shit together”. Yes we are laid back but that sounds appalling and a completely unprofessional representation of how organised we can be. I hope you do venture back here someday and that somebody looks after you. I am an ex film production manager but if you get stuck, it wouldn’t be too hard to come out of retirement and get it all together. Regards Leonie

  14. @Leonie,

    It’s OK – it was just one set of people there. As mentioned, I love Australia and had a great experience in the end. Not to worry. :)

  15. As a WVian, I can easily picture four people showing up, unfortunately. I actually found your blog about two weeks after you’d been here, which bummed me out a bit, but I still really like reading your words.

  16. I drove a couple hours to see you in Toronto. I was far too shy to stick around after to chat, but I was so very grateful that you’d come to our part of the world that I wanted you to see one more body out there in the crowd. It was a very full room that day, and I was so happy to see it.

    The most consistent character trait that you model is generosity. Thanks for teaching it so well.

  17. Thanks for sharing Chris! Even a long winded post is interesting to read coming from you. I can only imagine how many committed fans you have after such an extensive tour, and the desire to build a community like no other. I hope your dedication pays off for a long time and that you keep sharing.

  18. Since everything I write has always been self-published, this was a fascinating look on the inside workings of the business when working with “real” publishers — thanks for sharing all these details!

    It honestly sounds like an expensive way to go about things. I will assume that your royalties from sales to your core fans probably picks up most of that out of pocket tab, but as a direct response marketing guy I have to ask an obvious question: Would that $30k be better invested doing direct marketing?

    Also, thank you so much for hosting the New Year’s Eve get together in Portland. It was a pleasure to meet you, meet some other like-minded souls, and get out of my cave for an evening. :)

  19. @Jassen,

    The $30k investment was worth it in every way, but most importantly of all it was worth it in relationships that were initiated or strengthened through the tour. I expect to maintain these relationships for many years to come.

  20. I love this kind of post. Fat and juicy.

    Now I want it on my Kindle, so I can just roll around in it.

  21. February 11, 2013

    Shirley Hershey Showalter

    I’m saving this blog post. My dream is to combine my bucket list with a DIY book tour. If I can be half as successful, I’ll be delighted. The travel and relationships to friends around the world comes first. The book sales will just be gravy. I loved being at your NYC launch of the $100 Start Up.

  22. Loved reading this Chris – it’s odd and somewhat reassuring that you are so open about the whole process. Despite being a famous author and entrepreneur, it’s to hear your drive for improvement, your learning process and continuous evolution.

    It’s also nice to hear some funny stories from your experiences!

  23. Great post Chris! I laughed so much! I love your writing and I love your attitude!!

    Make sure you do head back to Australia soon – but take time to head out of the big cities and see our country – I’d be happy to throw you a party up here in Townsville anytime!

    Keep up the amazing work!

  24. Thanks for posting such detailed description about your tours. I liked this post a lot and greatly appreciate your way of thinking long term.

    I have shared your website and thoughts with many people who were thinking hard to act unconventionally. When I wanted to become a full time artist, your writings were one of the things that gave me the courage. That’s the reason I wanted to meet you personally and that happened at your book tour event at Pune, India.

    Keep up the good work!

  25. Hey Chris, thanks for the post. Love your writing style and your speaking style. Would never have thought you get terribly nervous on stage. When you spoke in Melbourne for the 2012 ProBlogger event it was smooth as silk, you were in full control. Thanks for all the inspiration you have given me and our connection. Was nice to talk art with you in Melbourne and I hope your wife’s paintings are moving in the right direction. Simon

  26. My question is how do you get a positive response from bookstores in the first place if you are self-published to begin with? They seem to be tied into pretty specific deals with mainstream publishers. A follow-up question would be how to get those first signups if you don’t have a blog readership like yours? Thanks for the post it is indeed helpful to see an overview of the process.

  27. I just bought your book (audio version through audible) and am loving it!

    I admire your commitment to meeting your readers on such a big book tour.

    Book marketing is such a wild thing to observe as it changes so fast. It seems it’s not really about forgetting the old and moving on with new tactics. It’s about integrating in new approaches as they arise … a great flattening of sorts.

  28. Chris,
    Thank you for this post, but also the timing. Today, I am speaking on a panel at the Tools of Change for Publishing Conference in NYC about how to foster local communities and local economies around books. While book tours are just one part of that conversation, your examples here provide so much context as to what other authors should try, and how to make an event that truly serves the community, the bookstore, partners, and of course, the author.

    Too often, I think events such as this are measured solely in terms of book sales. CLEARLY, this is important to the author, publisher, venue, etc. But the stories about what you learn about your audience, how you extend your reach with them, how people who may feel like isolated fans come together – there is such a deeper context that is hard to easily quantify.

    It’s particularly interesting to see how you are continuing to put a process around this, but one that doesn’t not get in the way of the audience. I have seen so many different types of events where in order to find “control,” the organizers end up making the audience jump through arduous hoops.

    Thanks again! Running out of characters!
    -Dan

  29. Enjoyed this post a lot.
    Here in UK and Ireland we often have authors visit local libraries for readings and talks. My local library also has a small coffee bar and has catered for groups before – tea & biscuits.
    Given that its possible to make/receive payments via smartphone now, selling books at libraries shouldn’t be a problem.
    $100 Startup is on the shelves of my local library, which is great for those with the least money – they can buy from you when they get going. Long-term planning in action again. ;)

  30. Sorry you had such a poor experience in Australia with your publisher Chris, however everyone at the Melbourne event loved it and we are so glad you came to share your experiences. Look forward to seeing you at WDS.

  31. Sorry you got such crap treatment in Australia – you know that’s not how your readers feel! Thanks for the great post and the great words of wisdom – ‘it’s all about the career’.

  32. I had the privilege of meeting you on the first tour in Columbia, SC. It was definitely worth the one hour drive! That visit led me to attend the first WDS.

    Couple of questions – especially re: the first tour.

    Had most of the attendees already read the book?
    Did you address the groups assuming they were already familiar with it or were you pitching it in hopes that they would buy it?

  33. February 12, 2013

    Susan Wakefield

    Compelling ideas, as always Chris. Impressed, with the interesting life you continuously invent and re-invent and the ways you invite us all to create our own empowered lives. You are reliably a great source of both deep and practical insights and your readers/fans like me appreciate your generosity in sharing them. Hope we can get you back to Chicago soon and this time we will try to exceed our tough competitor in Lawrence, KS.

  34. As others will have said I’m sure, I really appreciate these “business” posts Chris! Especially since this one will definitely be relevant to plans I’ll be making actually relatively soon ;) [I don't do "aspiring" when it comes to being an author haha]

    I also think that $30k was very well spent. Great job, and I hope meeting up in Oslo soon makes up for me missing every single leg of all of your book tours! :D

  35. Thanks for your great write-up on the tour side of marketing books! Awesome example of being responsible for your own success…how to get out there and just do it, no matter whether you’re an author, speaker, or whatever business you are in. And I certainly agree that you should ‘make a closer connection to book sales’. You have enough experience now, you could do some speaking engagements where people actually pay to attend…?

  36. Thanks for this, Chris. I’ve been waiting for this post!

    Also, I love seeing the photo of West Side Books where we hosted you here in Denver (pic with yellow walls, photo by Sharon Wharton).

    As someone who came to both your stops here in Denver, I want to say they were wonderful. You mention this at the end of your article and I want to highlight it: one of the huge benefits is that the audience members get to connect with each other. I met a lot of people, some of whom I am still in touch with. These book tours make for splendid meetups of unconventional people and I love it.

    Also, you have a business behind the books and I think that’s important for authors to consider. If there are other products or services that can get on people’s radar, the book tour can be considered a loss leader. I know I signed up for the first WDS because you mentioned it here in Denver.

    I had wanted to do a big book tour but have scaled it back. Last month I did three events and they were fantastic – and took a lot of time and energy from the new projects I’m developing. Still, I will do my own pared down version and thank you for sharing yours!

    Onward!

  37. Thank you for sharing your experiences, Chris. Very inspirational!

  38. I wrote you a few weeks ago about a speaking engagement. Your reply was pertinent in that you asked me a bunch of questions I should have thought of ahead of time, but didn’t. Learning isn’t always easy, but it is always exciting.

    Just a long introduction to say thanks for sharing both your experiences, but your point of view.

    I,’m using your earlier reply to refine my own plans, and thanks for that, too.

  39. One thing I notice in reading through the various comments is that you attract followers who are smart and literate! With so much awfully written junk on the web, it’s refreshing to find this nexus of clever readers who write well. Since you do, Chris, you attract like-minded others.

  40. Ha! I see you used the picture from the launch event you did for your first book in New York where it all started (as far as book tours is concerned). My wife and I are in the 1st row – far left from the stage – not the guy that´s sleeping. Good times!

  41. I think you hit the nail on the head – you just got to show up and start somewhere. Learn as you go but taking action and responsibility for your marketing and success (whether its for your book as an author or some other job) is crucial. It’s something I am trying to work on a lot so thanks for the reminder and encouragement!

    I also couldn’t agree more with public speaking! I just had my first public speaking engagement a few months ago and I was soooo nervous! But it went incredibly well, due in no small part to the people and staff that made it abundantly clear that they wanted to see me succeed. Almost everyone does! That was a huge realization to me. If you still doubt the veracity of this statement consider this – did people really give up some of their valuable time (a part of their lives they will never get back) just to hear something worthless and see you fail on stage? NO! They came because they believe you have something of value already and they want to see you succeed.

  42. February 14, 2013

    Chris Guthrie

    You mention that the $30k is an investment in long term projects / your career. Can you give some examples?

    I assume you write books not to make money (at least initially) but perhaps you make some money when you do your world domination summit or some other products and the book is someone’s first exposure to you.

    Nice post though. I don’t really have any interest in doing a book or tour yet. Perhaps after I’ve exited from a couple of my businesses for a large liquidity event and want to write a book about it.

  43. @Chris,

    Long-term career examples:

    1. Multiple six-figure advance for book #2

    2. Thousands of amazing readers who care about what I have to say

    The former is nice; the latter is what actually creates success.

    WDS is totally non-profit — see The $100 Investment from last year (we gave all profits back to attendees in cash).

  44. Thanks for taking the time to write the long post. It was very informative and entertaining. This young 75 year old enjoys your weekly posts. I have also met a lot of interesting people through your links. Keep up your inspiring work.

    You wife must be a great person to be on her own so much while you are on the road. I hope you both have a wonderful valentines day. Long time fan.

    P.S. I also love reading the comments almost as much as your blog. You have created a great army of fun people.

  45. Thank you. Thank you so much. Probably a tad obvious but one needs to hear it from someone else sometimes for it to all sink in. Soo, lesson learnt ‘Tis up to me to get my work into reader’s hands’

  46. Thanks Chris, I really appreciate your blog and all the resources you provide. My brother introduced me to your blog and it has been a great source of inspiration in my own pursuit of being a non-conformist. I recently lost my job and have decided to take the rest of this year to see if I can be self-sustaining in pursuit of things that matter to me. Thanks again for the inspiration!

  47. Chris, we were blown away at your Nashville stop. Your graciousness to your readers, insight into business, and generosity are very apparent. We wouldn’t be doing what we’re doing without your inspiration.

  48. Pingback: 6 Effective Ways to Engage With Your Readers (So They Buy More Books)

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