It sounds glamorous to do a book tour. Fly in and out of cities, take trains, or drive, or have a driver chauffeur you around, and be put up at five-star hotels and wined and dined at only the best Yelp-reviewed restaurants. Then, you get to rhapsodize about your book, sign your name on the title page and add some witty greeting to each reader. When done, you head on to the next destination. Famous YOU! Famous ME or lucky US!
It can be all this when you're a celeb and best-selling author. And then there are authors like ourselves who do nicely with our books and sales but not like authors John Grisham, James Patterson or the Obamas, who just signed agreements for $6o to $65 million--what's $5 million when you're at that level of earning power! They won't be staying at Motel 6. Well, to be honest, we don't, either. We usually stay at friends' homes to save money.
On a recent weekday, I took a commuter train to New York City from my upstate New York destination. I stayed at my mother's apartment before my 6 a.m. flight out to Chicago the next day so I could have a direct flight. That required my getting up at 4:30 a. m. and taking a cab to La Guardia Airport where even at that hour the security line is long. Thanks to my TSA pass and a letter from my doctor about my broken arm, which now contains a metal plate, both helped get me through fast, though I was patted down as never before.
The plane took off on time, had little turbulence--always a fear for this fearful flyer--and landed about 7:30 a.m. I took an expensive cab ride to my friends' apartment, we had lunch on my dime rather than the publisher's at my favorite Frontera Grill, then had my hair blown out so it would look good, also on my dime or $55. I took another cab to the event where my co-author Margaret and I were talking about Suddenly Single after 50 to a crowd of mostly women at the Women's Athletic Club in Chicago. She had trained in from St. Louis and barely got there on time…but that's another blog post.
The WAC was a pure class act serving drinks and passing hors d'oeuvres; an author can barely eat since we had to mingle and converse. Club member Donna Tuke introduced us graciously and moderator and member Jennifer Arquilla did a great job asking questions and letting us speak. She had read the book multiple times, which not all interviewers do, and even put post-its and notes in her copy which she brought to the event for reference!
Afterward, we signed books. The bookseller sold out of their inventory. Then, we were invited to stay for a light supper and chit-chat with club members. We heartily dug into the freshly made potato chips, dips, and flatbreads, and sipped some wine.
The next morning I arose at 6 a.m., took another expensive cab ride to the airport, boarded a full flight, endured constant bumps, landed, took a cab to Grand Central Station in New York City, and another commuter train back to my nearby station in upstate New York. I arrived 48 hours home, exhausted. I also spent more than $400 after logging in thousands of miles on the planes, trains, cabs, meals, hair, and miscellaneous.
But the good news: I got to see friends including three high school pals who live in Chicago, met other women and some men who loved our stories or so they said, sold copies, and felt proud.
No fancy multi-city tour or stay at a Four Seasons or Ritz-Carlton can compensate for that feeling of all the hard work of writing and reliving our agony but sharing our advice. It was worth the odyssey to get there. And next Margaret takes our act solo on the road to Los Angeles and the next signing. Stay tuned.