Saturday, December 13, 2008
Charis Books: Last Stop on the Tour Train
That's it! Last night was the final Just Like A Girl reading for 2008. Charis Books and Zami(in the ATL) were our hosts for the evening. Contributors Julie Senger (Just Like A Girl) and Tashamee Dorsey (Growing Up Girl) joined me to bring the tour to a close. I was very grateful to have them there. They are both wonderful writers and beautiful spirits.
I absolutely limped into this reading. I was exhausted. For a reason, I'm still not sure of, I scheduled this tour to be pulled off in 5 months. Almost every weekend (and a couple weekdays) I was on the road. Fourteen cities and several hundred miles were covered in that time. With Growing Up Girl it took me over a year to cover that kind of territory. I'm not sure what the hurry was about but I wont do that again!
For those who read this blog for tips on running your own press or self-publishing and promoting your work - here are a few concrete ones.
Pace yourself - especially if you are a one person show. When you are responsible for booking the readings, shipping the books, filling the orders, reserving the flights, cars, hotel rooms, AND being present at the readings - that is a lot to handle. You will start to feel the fatigue and the sense you are operating in a divided mind (which is not great if you have to make significant business decisions).
Ask for help! I can't tell you how much I suck at this. Part of it is about my personality, but the other part is that doing something like this really can be an isolating endeavor. You spend a lot of time by yourself and you get in the headset that you have to do everything. Not true. Especially when it becomes clear that you are not going to be good at everything or have the resources to pull everything off.
At the end of the tour I started to run out of money and energy. Because I depend on the sale of the books (Hey! have you bought a couple copies for the holidays?) to pay for every aspect of the tour it can get a little sketchy. This tour required more flying and as we all know - airfare has been out of this world! My starting budget for the tour did not factor in four dollar gas and $15 first bag check-in fees. In the end, after much fretting, I had to ask my sister to put my ticket to Atlanta on her credit card. She was more than happy to. For some reason I thought it was going to be an imposition. In all the worrying I forgot that my family and friends want me to succeed and are more than willing to do what they can to get me where I am trying to go.
Write Everything Down!! Besides having your master marketing plan, you have to keep a list of "stuff" you will need while you are on the road or just traveling to your local bookstore for a reading. I make a "pack list" every time I have a reading. From my toiletries to how many books I need to have on hand, I write it down. I know you think your mind is a steel trap, but you WILL forget something. Trust me, it sucks to get somewhere and realize that you forgot the camera or your slacks or the address to the hotel where you are staying.
Pack Light. Leave your favorite pillow at home. Take only what you need. It is easier to keep track of your stuff and get through airport security this way. At this point, I got this process down to a science. Yesterday I only took a backpack with me. I squeezed my laptop, change of clothes and shoes, toiletries, cameras, and books in that puppy. I sailed through the airport. It was a very efficient trip (not counting the three hour layover)!
Be Flexible! No matter how much you plan or try to anticipate - something is going to go wrong. That's just how the Universe is. US Airway is going to cancel your flight and saddle you with a three hour layover (putting you at your destination with just an hour to get ready for your reading). Jerome at Alamo is going to say something crazy to you and forget the power cord to the $11.95 a day GPS that you desperately need to get around. While away from your home base (in a totally different city) you will get an email from the bookstore saying they never got their shipment and you have to pay an extra 50 bucks to overnight them another batch before the reading. All of this is annoying, but not earth shattering. Your problem solving skills will kick in and everything will work out -one way or another. Promise.
The rest of 2008 will consist of me filling holiday orders, sleeping,and mapping out what 2009 needs to look like. When the tour starts back up I will be focused on mostly universities,colleges, and book clubs. And,oh yeah, reading the submissions for the new anthology Woman's Work!.
I want to thank everyone for the continued support of GirlChild Press. I really appreciate all the support and love. I look forward to your submissions, feedback, and positive energy.