Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Adam Mansbach: Hell is my own book tour

When you've written about writers and books for a little while, authors tell you stories about book promotion that are pretty sad. We all know that Junot Diaz is a rock star, but that kind of following is rare. What happens more often is what Adam Mansbach, author of Go the F**k to Sleep and the new book, Rage is Back, describes at Salon:
A lot can go wrong on a book tour. For instance – stop me if I’m getting too technical here – nobody shows up to the reading. When this happens, you’re forced to spend about 20 minutes with an apologetic, pitying bookstore employee, attempting to strike the right blend of self-deprecation, cavalier disregard, and passive-aggression toward the bookstore for failing to promote the event in any way except by placing posters in the bathroom of the store itself. This bathroom is not for customer use.
Ultimately, the bookstore employee will treat you to a coffee drink of your choosing (quadruple espresso) in the bookstore’s cafe, which generates 83 percent of the bookstore’s annual revenue. You will cast spiteful glances at all the people sitting in there chilling and sipping lattes and not attending your reading a mere 75 feet away.
Because I've been one of four people who showed up at a reading, I thought the honesty and self-deprecating humor here was entertaining. I do wonder about the business of book tours, though, and how they'll evolve. Indie authors like myself can't afford them and there are lots of us out there - some writers don't do them at all and still manage to sell books. I'd be curious to see any data that show that book tours are actually moving books these days.

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