So I suppose I ought to say something about the events I've been having. The whole trip hasn't been entirely about eating local food, blues and now baseball. Nope, I've done some work, too.
Then again, sometimes I feel like a bit of a fraud calling it work. Us authors love to convince people that we really work hard at it, that it's a job. And we do and it is. The problem, however, is that most of us would do it for free if we had to. Most of us do it for pretty damn close to free anyhow.
If any of you think that my book tour, or 99.9999999999% of other author's book tours actually, in any tangible way, even pay for themselves, you are naive.
Now that isn't to say that from a purely business point of view they aren't worth it. There's no way to quantify how, but I am convinced that they are. They get you known. They get you publicity. They help to build up your readership and your public profile. The stores sell more of your books after you've visited than they probably would if you hadn't visited.
And they are, at least for me, fun. And fun is good for you. It's as vital as an apple a day or any of those other nostrums.
So I've had book events at stores, and in most cases it's like visiting old friends and making new friends and while there haven't been any teeming hordes of frenzied readers to greet me anywhere, there have been audiences of about the size, or more than the size, than I expected.
I first visited some of my favorite old standbys: Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale, Clues Unlimited in Tucson and Murder By the Book in Houston.
In Austin, Book People, one of my favorite big, general, independent bookstores, didn't carry my books - BOO on them - but I did meet someone who gave me a great idea for a non-fiction book. (I'm currently working on the proposal.)
When I left the Mississippi Delta to drive to Nashville for an event, I stopped in at Bookstore on the Square in Oxford, Miss. A lovely store that I'd never visited before. They were quite welcoming, will probably now order my books to sell. And they invited me back for a book event whenever I'm next in the vicinity. As I very much like that vicinity, I will be back.
In Nashville I visited Mysteries & More, a lovely little store run by Greg and Mary who couldn't possibly have been more hospitable. They even have a super comfortable guest apartment behind the store for visiting authors. Nine people showed up, which might not seem like a lot to those of you who haven't been on a book tour before, but it's not at all a bad turnout, especially in a store I've never been to before, in a town where I don't know anyone.
In Ann Arbor I went to another store where I've not been in the past. Aunt Agatha's is a an excellent store, jam packed with stock, run by Robin Agnew who is very active in the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association among other worthwhile endeavors. The store did a great job of publicizing the event and 15 people showed up and bought even more than that number of books.
One of those who showed up was PJ Coldren, who I have wanted to meet ever since she started saying such incredibly nice things about my books in her reviews. She drove two hours, each way, to see me and I am honored and humbled by that. Us writers are nothing without readers and no matter how despondent I get sometimes over the state of publishing and slow book sales, etc - which, like every other author I know, I do sometimes - when I meet people like PJ it helps renew my enthusiasm.
Now I'm in Chicago. No one here seems to be carrying my books. I'll drive around to some stores and pester them with free copies and ordering information in the hope of remedying that, but for the most part I'm visiting my sister - Nancy - a photographer for the Tribune. Last night we watched the Cardinals beat the Cubs in a very good game at Wrigley Field. Nancy was unhappy about that. Me, I'm a Cardinals fan, I was pleased.Albert Pujols is one of my very favorite current players. He hits plenty of homeruns, but I could almost care less about that. He hits for a high average and on base percentage and he is a superb fielder - the kind of ballplayer I love to watch.
This is where my sister Nancy lived when she first moved to Chicago - on Waveland Avenue, behind left field of Wrigley Field. The apartment windows in the photo are what used to be her apartment. The owner of the building has since converted it into a private, rental sports bar, and built bleachers on top of the building. (You can see the building at the far left of the picture of the whole ballpark.)When they announced that Patti Smith was going to sing the national anthem at the start of the game, we got very excited.It figures, though, that there's more than one.
I'm here through Wednesday, then it's up to Madison, WI for an event at Booked For Murder. Then it's St. Louis on Friday and Saturday, Big Sleep Books on Saturday afternoon.