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Successful Book Tours & How to Plan One

Successful Book Tours & How to Plan One
by Fern Reiss, CEO,

Are book tours worth the time and money? Or is it more effective to do your publicity from the comfort of your own home?

Although it depends on a lot of variables, I still think book tours can be an effective way of promoting a new book, and that they can be done relatively inexpensively. But only if you are careful—and clever—about how you plan them. Here are my top ten tips for planning an effective book tour. (For 20 more pages on conducing an effective book tour, see my book, The Publishing Game: Bestseller in 30 Day, available at Here, then, is one way to approach your book tour:

  • Don’t do your book tour all at once. The way big publishing houses send their authors on the road is by doing back-to-back cities, flying from town to town for weeks at a time. For most authors, this isn’t the most effective use of either time or money. For one thing, you get tired being on the road that much, and it’s certainly difficult to fit that kind of road trip around everything else in your life. For another, that’s not the best way to maximize the buzz on your book. If you can, go to just one or two cities each month, to keep the buzz going and refuel in between.
  • Plan your cities around an anchor event. Don’t put a city on your book tour unless you have one big event in the city that makes it worthwhile to go there. This could be a conference at which you’re speaking, a trade show at which you’re exhibiting, or a consulting gig that’s paying for you to fly out. By only going to cities in which you have an anchor event, either someone else has paid for your biggest expenses (such as airfare and hotel) or at least, they are expenses you’d already budgeted for. And whatever else you’re able to add is gravy, because you’ve already got a big event to make the trip worthwhile. (If you can’t find a conference or consulting gig where someone will pay for your hotel, consider only booking cities where you have a free place to stay. This is what friends and relatives are for!)
  • Then, get at least three good invitations. Focus on getting at least three good invitations in that same city. For an author for whom I’m doing PR this month, I booked at least one bookstore, one library, and one other speaking event in each city. That ensured a reasonable buzz in each location.
  • If you can’t seem to get three gigs in one city, tell the venue that is most enthusiastic about hosting you. A bookstore or library that wants you badly enough can usually convince another forum to host you.
  • Zero in on one logical ‘natural’ speaking venue aside from bookstores and libraries. One of my clients speaks at churches across the country; another speaks at women’s networking groups. There’s almost always a ‘natural’ speaking venue for a book that can be booked in each city.
  • Try for cities that are within two hours drive of another city. This is often overlooked even by professional publicists, but you can maximize your exposure (and minimize your airfare) if you try to book cities that are within easy access of another city. So if you’re going to Los Angeles, also book San Diego; if you’re going to DC, book Baltimore; if you’re flying to San Antonio, book Austin. People who live in Los Angeles generally don’t travel to San Diego for events—but for just an hour or so on a bus, you can get the value of two cities for the price of one.
  • Keep in mind that the less popular cities (Akron, Pittsburgh, Worcester) tend to draw better (local) media, but the more popular cities (Boston, DC, San Francisco) can draw better crowds and yield more book sales.
  • Once you’ve arranged the speaking gigs, hit the media. The local media is much more interested in you if you’re doing events in their city. So once you’ve confirmed your speaking arrangements, send a press release to the print media, and a PSA to the broadcast media. (Stop by the articles section at the website in future months for more details of how to do effective press releases and PSAs.) Try to have at least one major media booking in each city; for my on-tour author, this was a one-hour radio interview in one city, a major newspaper profile in another.
  • Don’t forget the calendar sections of each newspaper in your target cities. Whether or not your press releases and PSAs get picked up, most newspapers will run the raw facts of your appearance at bookstores and libraries in their calendar section—if you send them the details with a large enough lead time, usually about a month.
  • Remember to ask each of your speaking hosts for their local media list. Most bookstores and libraries have a list of journalists/newspapers/radios they fax or email for their events. Get hold of those lists—and follow up with your press releases.

Finally, keep in mind that for some authors, national publicity might be easy to get and more comfortable to do, rendering all this ‘local’ travel unnecessary. I do aggressive Amazon and BookSense promotions for my PR clients, for example, so they only tour if they have the energy/time/money. (To forestall the deluge of email, let me add that I only take on three PR clients each year. But I’m always available for consulting by the hour if you’d like some suggestions on putting together your own amazing book tour: In the end, it really comes down to how enthusiastic you are about the idea of touring; the more enthusiasm you put into a book tour, the more successful it will be.


Fern Reiss is CEO of ( and ( and the author of the books, The Publishing Game: Find an Agent in 30 Days, The Publishing Game: Bestseller in 30 Days, and The Publishing Game: Publish a Book in 30 Days as well as several other award-winning books.  She is also the Director of the International Association of Writers ( providing publicity vehicles to writers worldwide. She also runs The Expertizing® Publicity Forum where you can pitch your book or business directly to journalists; more information at  Sign up for her complimentary newsletter at

Copyright © 2011 Fern Reiss


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