I’ve spent the last few days at home resting and reflecting on my time on the road. Here are the final numbers from my tour:
Days traveling (including RT air travel from Maine): 18
Days driving: 16
Miles driven: 1700
Libraries visited: 23
Total # people who came to see me: 1800
But those are just numbers. It says nothing about the lovely hours spent with friendly people, the pleasures of exploring new towns, the countless books I autographed, and the new readers who found me because of this tour. Again and again, people said: “I’ve never read you before, but when I heard you were coming to our town, I started reading your books. And now I’m reading them all!”
That’s exactly what a tour should do.
There are costs for an author, of course. I paid my own airfare and car rental and there were four hotel nights which weren’t covered by libraries. There’s also the time I spent away from my writing. But I can say now that a tour of small-town libraries is exactly the sort of book tour that authors should be taking. Unlike conventional book tours, which send you to major metropolitan areas where audiences are jaded and turnouts can be disappointing, this sort of tour sends you to places where readers are actually eager to meet you. In these small Indiana towns, I found larger audiences than I usually find in big-city bookstores.
The other great thing about a driving tour: driving from town to town is a lot less stressful than flying to a new city every day. For me, traditional book tours are fraught with the anxiety of: Will my plane be on time? Will my flight get cancelled? Will I lose my luggage?
This tour allowed me to enjoy the scenery, stop at local joints to sample the food (Steak and Shake! Barbecue!) and be assured that, yes, I will get to my next event on time. Assuming I can trust my GPS.
And then there’s the charm of small towns. Since I live in a small town myself (about 5,000 people), I wanted this tour to focus on small towns. After driving through farmland and cornfields, I’d always wonder if anyone would show up to see me. But they did show up, with out-of-the-way venues sometimes drawing audiences of more than 100.
I’d definitely do a tour like this again. I’d probably make it shorter because 18 days is a long time to haul around dirty laundry. It’d also be a good strategy for authors who travel in pairs, so you can keep each other company and split the cost of the rental car (which was our biggest expense.)
So here’s to libraries and small towns everywhere. May you start to see many, many authors walking through your doors!