Just the Facts, Ma’am

I’m really glad I went to Texas, really glad I organized a nearly two month book tour that covered 7 states as well as a weekend in British Columbia. I’m glad I decided I’d get behind the book–not just with ads, but with my face, my time, my energy and my ideas. But I’m also really glad the touring part is nearly over. I’ve a few small weekend events here and there scattered over the next couple of months, but nothing like the California, Pacific Northwest and Texas tours just completed.

Truth is, I’m beat. I’m sick of planes and cars, maps and hotels, restaurants, suitcases, cardboard boxes and high heels. It’s been hectic and nerve wracking and I’m ready to pass on the flat iron for my hair and the lip liner topped by lip gloss for a week of scruffy jeans and t-shirts, minus the pretty underwire bra.

But do I have any regrets about the weeks on the road? No. (Okay, I do regret being away from the kids–hate that.) But regrets about investing so much time and energy into promo efforts that might or might not increase sales, and after all, sales is what matters? Nope. No regrets there. I’ve worked hard to get where I am career-wise, worked hard to write an average of four books a year for the past four and a half years, worked hard to write stories that matter to me. If I work that hard to make sure my Harlequin Presents sell, why would I do any less for my Warner single titles?

I wouldn’t.

In fact, I’d do it all again. Or, most of it.

There are a couple bookstores where the events fizzled rather than sizzled. There was some miscommunication on some events and readers who’d hoped I’d read, ended up lining up to just say hi. I’ve been placed in the children’s section of one bookstore and then forced to politely argue with parents about why I didn’t think The Frog Prince I wrote was appropriate for their second grade daughters. I’ve spent an entire hour at Alexander’s Bookstore in San Francisco reading the first chapter of Frog Prince aloud to black, hip, urban Bernard, my little brother holding his infant daughter, and a man from Turkey–my very own version of Three Men and a Baby.

I’ve gotten on wrong freeways (Dallas) and missed turnoffs (Dallas) and nearly missed flights (Dallas, again). I’ve lost my purse and wallet (Houston) with all my ID and cash and cell phones and everything I need to get to the next event, never mind buying a soda or boarding a flight.

I’ve repeatedly jumped time zones and drunk Starbucks frappacinos at the wrong time of day and ended up lying awake in strange hotel beds all night trying to fall asleep. I’ve grinned through hours of sitting at cardtables hoping someone would talk to me and then jumped up from other signings to hug 75 plus readers, friends and family. And maybe that’s the hardest part of a book tour: never knowing what kind of day, or event, it’s going to be.

Some events like my evenings in Waco’s Books-a-Million or Katy Budget Books feel effortless and others, like my signing in Plano at the Collin Creek Mall, are pulling teeth. The few folks that wander in the store seem to make a huge beeline just to avoid me and the booksellers flagging them over don’t help their apathy.

I don’t blame the folks who didn’t want to talk to me. I wouldn’t want to talk to me if I met me in a bookstore. I go to a bookstore to buy books, not socialize. Fortunately, not all readers are like me and some are kind enough, or curious enough, to wander over and ask me about the book, or even, what am I doing. Some even buy the book. Some even buy four books. Some even email me a day or two later to say how much they loved the books. (Always a balm to the nervous writer’s soul.)

Now after 7+ hours flying, two Continental jets, one cab ride and a 40 minute drive home, I’m home, and I’m going to be home for a bit, gearing up to get busy writing. But tonight as I look at all the photos taken these past 7 weeks, I know this tour thing has been a success. Not because I sold a thousand books (I think I sold closer to five hundred), but because I bit the bullet, got behind my new book, put myself out there, and introduced myself to potential readers. And for an introvert who’d rather curl up in a comfy chair than answer her own phone, that’s quite a feat.

Oh, and since I’ve been asked–what is the best thing I did on the booktour? It was buying a few wardrobe pieces that coordinated with my bookcover. It’s true. I did this. I nearly always wore peaches, corals, creams and greens so I never clashed with my bright orange, pink and green Frog Prince cover. It also made the packing a heck of a lot easier. And that my friends, is a Jane Porter tour tip you can remember.

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