Thursday, June 26, 2008

Blogs and Book Tours

Slow on the posting lately, mainly because I've been caught up in two different writing projects on top of work, and my writing comes before my blogging. So, no apologies.

If you have guest blogged for a well known publisher/ editor/ writing celeb or other notable, is it ok to include that under your writing experience?

...Not really? I would say you're grasping at straws here. Unless it's directly related to the manuscript, don't include it in the query.

On the further subject of blogs, I was compelled to start an author blog by the company publishing my first book (no, I won't tell you where the blog is). So far I've used it to post reviews as they start to come in and really nothing else. The publicity assistant also talked about a "blog tour" as opposed to a book tour, which benefits the company because it doesn't cost money, and benefits the author in that it doesn't take as much time.

This is not to dismiss the traditional book tour, though publishers are increasingly turning against them. The reasons are obvious: they're costly, they're inconvenient, and the book store has to order in the copies themselves sometimes and if they don't sell the bookstore gets mad at the publisher (which is never good for the publisher, which needs the bookstore to buy the books to sell them in the first place). Most of all, unless the author is a celebrity, people don't go to the readings and not only does it not sell books but it can turn into a very depressing experience for the author. Rarely do publishing companies make a huge effort to shield their authors from psychological trauma (especially as mild as facing an uncomfortable amount of empty chairs), so it's nice to hear them being altruistic like that.

In the movie Capote, Truman (Hoffman) gives a reading of his then-unfinished manuscript of In Cold Blood to a packed theater of New York Literati. It does make for a lot of nostalgia, and I just found it funny because he's reading from an unfinished manuscript, and later has problems finishing it, so I thought the reading was a bit premature, even for those days. But anyway, nice scene. Slow movie.

The truth is that the art of the book reading, while not dead, is certainly in some kind of state where IV fluids might be required. The only readings I've ever been to were ones I was dragged to in college or grad school because my professor knew the writer, plus one reading because it was between me and the history section at the Union Square Barnes and Noble and Jimmy Carter was the speaker so the Secret Service guys wouldn't let me through. And I didn't stay for the whole reading. Oh, and once in high school because I had nothing better to do.

It was actually a great presentation. Anne Rice was speaking the following week at the same Borders (I believe The Red Violin was coming out), and this author was a run-of-the-mill fantasy author who had written a Forever Knight franchise novel. For those of you who don't remember or never knew because you have a life, Forever Knight was a show about a vampire who was a cop and the whole show was ruined by its really, really terrible ending. Possibly the worst ending for a series ever if not for Sopranos. Anyway, this author realized there was no reason to talk about the book, as we were either going to buy it because we liked the show and showed up or we were there because that's where all the chairs were, so instead she gave about an hour presentation on the history of the vampire myth, and how it entered pop culture. It was one of the most interesting explanations of how we went from burying comatose people at crossroads to Count von Count. I was so impressed by her sheer historical knowledge that I bought the book to compliment her. I never read it. I don't even really remember why I was there in the first place; maybe we just went to the bookstore to kill time before a movie or something.

The point is, if you're a first-time author, or even just an author who is not a former President, you're probably not going to draw a crowd. I like George R. Martin but it doesn't mean I necessarily want to listen to him read a Sansa chapter. People go for autographs, but the modern autograph market has kinda bottomed out thanks to eBay. So, not going on a book tour is probably not just the publicity market being cheap (though they are undoubtedly doing that) but saving you from hassle and time that you could be spending writing your next book.