Book Tour: Fears and Reality, Part 1

I realized that there could be a need for this post because I was in a television studio not long ago.  I had many fears, and waiting to go on after me was a very beautiful girl, clearly a professional who’d been on television for years.  I told her I was nervous because I was new at all of this, and she assured me I would be just fine.

“Do you have any tips?” I asked her.  I knew I had only minutes before I’d need to go onto the set.

She looked at me.  “About what, exactly?”

“Anything!”  I was desperate.

She squinted her eyes and thought hard.  “Well, I really hate to buy anything at full price.  You have to look around to get the best deal.  You could try…”

And she told me all about that until I got led up to the stage.

It really was my fault because I was unclear, but I also realized there could be a need for some good advice for authors preparing for their first book tour.  Here are some of my fears and what I have found the reality to be.  I hope it’s helpful.

FEAR: You may not get a book tour.

REALITY: You may not WANT to get a book tour.  Of course, I dreamed about having a book tour before my book got published too, but I was just as terrified as I was thrilled when it became a reality.  What does a writer like me know about such things as being on television and radio?  I don’t know if there is anything more antithetical to being a solitary writer than going on a book tour.  I thought I’d be safe behind my computer as an author.  In my daydreams, I can’t look like  a complete idiot in an interview while in real life, I can.

And while you’re busy with your book tour, you’ll miss all kinds of shows, like:

But I know, most of us would be willing to forgo seeing interesting drama in order to go on tour.  Which leads me to all of my other fears.

FEAR: You will go on a television or radio interview and the host will be out to get you.  He will deliberately ask you the most difficult, awkward questions he can think of and then roll on the floor with laughter while your embarrassment is recorded, live.

REALITY: Unless you’ve written a book on how it’s OK to torture bunny rabbits, your host will not be out to get you.  Their job is to make the whole interview as entertaining and smooth as possible, so they’re trying to make you look good.  Most of the time, they will be really well-prepared like Irene Rawlings of the show “FOCUS” on Clear Channel Radio in Denver, CO:

The interview is then a piece of cake because they know exactly what to ask you.  I find it more intimidating to do live television, but I really try to focus on two things: 1) answering the questions and 2) my host’s nose.  If you stare at his nose, you can’t throw yourself around wildly, which is something they hate in television studios.  Only disadvantage is that it freaks out the host a bit.

This is Matt Chambers, whose nose I now know very well, on the “Great Day St. Louis” show on KMOV-TV (CBS):

Remember, your host does not want the listener or viewer to sit there and think, “Boy, that was an incredibly awkward moment.”  They will do everything they can to keep things smooth and easy.

It’s more difficult when the host hasn’t read your book, which can happen (and does NOT mean the person is evil), because of the sheer volume of the interviews they need to do.  There are moments when they can start asking about things that are quite different from your book, just to pass the time.  It’s then your job to gently steer the conversation back to something relevant.

If you did write a book on how it’s all right to torture bunny rabbits, then your host may well be out to get you and you’ll need types of professional help that I cannot give you.

FEAR:  No one will appreciate you.

REALITY:  Hotels will appreciate you.

Well, I don’t suggest going into those little bookstores at airports looking for your book, because unless you’re already a very popular author, chances are that they won’t have it.  So that doesn’t make you feel appreciated.

However, hotels really like authors.  I’m not sure why.  I think it has something to do with being classy and of course, the added business doesn’t hurt.

I was recently just wheeling my luggage inside a hotel when both of the doormen said, “How are you today, Ms. Kwok?”  Now, this was very nice but I realized something: I hadn’t checked in yetHow did they know my name? I stared at them in horror.  And they were just the beginning.  I felt like I was in a Kafka novel as I fled from pole to pole in this terrifying hotel, hiding from the Kwok-calling masses.

Later, after I had managed to escape outside, I asked my media escort about it.  Media escorts know everything in the world.  And indeed, she solved the mystery!  There was a picture of me hanging in the staff room so that they could learn what I looked like!  I kid you not.  Those poor people, trying to eat their sandwiches in peace with these visiting authors staring at them.

When you’re feeling blue, know that the hotel loves you (a little too much).

Category: National Book Tour, Publishing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , 18 comments »

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18 Responses to “Book Tour: Fears and Reality, Part 1”

  1. Jean

    Hi Qiong, Thanks so much for getting in touch! So glad you enjoyed my book! Hugs back, Jean

  2. Qiong


    I loved your book!!! You are absolutely an amazing author! I am looking forward to reading your next book.

    Warm hugs,

  3. admin

    This is so nice for me to hear, Claire.

  4. Claire

    Dear Jean,
    It is almost 2:00 am (on a work night), and I just finished reading your book and wanted to write to you to tell you how much I enjoyed your book. I had to keep reading it, because I couldn’t put it down. It was sweet, beautiful, poignant and an incredibly lovely and memorable story. I think the story can appeal to anyone who has ever felt, like they didn’t fit in, didn’t have the best designer clothes, were not in the cool crowd or perhaps just different growing up.

    I enjoyed the kindness of your characters, such as when Annette finally saw Kimberley’s home, I cried and cried. I could feel the love Annette had for her friend. You have crafted touching masterpiece. Thank you.

  5. admin

    Erika, thanks so much for your kind words! I’m so glad you enjoyed the book! And you may catch a glimpse of some of these characters in my next book — it won’t be about them, but I know what their futures are and when I love a character, I hate to let them go, so I’m going to let my readers see a tiny bit of them once in a while, in other books.

  6. Erika

    I just finished ur book! I finished Reading it in two work shifts, shhh. Now I’m here at work leaving a comment from my phone. You’re an exceptional woman and author. I really enjoyed your book and can relate, as English was not my first language. I’m looking forward to reading more of your books in the future.Thank you for your gift!

  7. admin

    Great! I hope you like it!

  8. Ethel

    I got it from iBooks (Apple) for my iPad. Thanks for letting me know.

  9. admin

    Hi Ethel,
    I’m sorry but I have no idea what’s happening with the Kindle version — I don’t handle those rights myself. I know there are other ebook versions available, at Barnes and Noble and Ipad but I am not sure about the Kindle one. Sorry, am trying to figure it out!

  10. Ethel

    I’m dying to read your book, as your story fascinates me a lot. I’ve been waiting for the kindle edition since the book launch but no response from Amazon yet. Is there a plan to release an ebook version?

  11. admin

    I just don’t want to come out from behind my computer sometimes, but tomorrow morning, I’ll have to emerge to do live to tape Dutch TV, the culmination of all my fears…

  12. admin

    Here’s the rest of the prologue, hope you enjoy it:

    From my position outside the window of the bridal shop now, I can see the little girl sitting quietly at the mannequin’s feet, eyes shut, the heavy folds of falling fabric closing her in and I think, This isn’t the life I wanted for my child. I know how it will go: she already spends all of her time after school at the shop, helping with small tasks like sorting beads; later, she will learn to sew by hand and then on the machines until finally, she can take over some of the embroidery and finishing work, and then she too will spend her days and weekends bent over the unending yards of fabric. For her, there will be no playing at friends’ houses, no swimming lessons, no summers at the beach, not much of anything at all except for the unrelenting rhythm of the sewing needle.

    But then we both look up as her father walks in and after all these years and all that’s passed, my heart stirs like a wounded animal in my chest.

    Was I ever as beautiful as she? There are almost no pictures of me as a child. We couldn’t afford a camera. The first snapshot taken of me in the US was a school photo, from the year I came to America. I was eleven. There came a moment later in my life when I wanted to move on, and I ripped this picture up. But instead of discarding the pieces, I tucked them away in an envelope.

    Recently, I found that envelope and brushed off the dust. I broke open the seal and touched the torn bits of paper inside: here was the tip of an ear, a part of the jaw. My hair had been cut by my mother, unevenly and too short, parted far to the right and swept over my forehead in a boy’s hairstyle. The word PROOF covers much of my face and a part of my blue polyester shirt. We hadn’t been able to pay for the actual photo so we’d kept this sample they’d sent home.

    But when I join the ripped pieces of the photo and put together the puzzle, my eyes still gaze directly at the camera, their hope and ambition clear to all who care to look. If only I’d known.

  13. sari wilson

    This is so funny and illuminating, Jean! I love hearing about life on the other side of the computer…

  14. IM


    can you post a bit of longer excerpt of your book? The two whole paragraphs just don’t do much.

    Thank you

  15. admin

    That is SO funny, Marianne! I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog and I hope you like the book!

  16. Marianne ter Kuile

    Hi Jean,
    Thanks so much for your book, it’s an honour to have a signed copy!
    I started yesterday evening and will finish it as soon as my kids allow me (I am sure you know what I am talking about!)
    I usually read your blog at work, and try to do this unnoticed, but when you came up with “the kwok-calling masses” you just killed me and so I was caught redhanded laughing in the workplace.
    Thanks for that, I hope many more of these moments will follow.

  17. admin

    Thanks for the vote of confidence! But yes, I do think I look like a cross between Cleopatra and Groucho Marx by the time my makeup is done!

  18. Elyse/Pop Culture Nerd

    Jean, you are so funny! And I do mean hilarious, not funny/strange. With that kind of wit, I don’t see how you could NOT do well in interviews, no matter the medium.

    I’m really enjoying reading about your tour experiences. Thanks for taking the time to write these reports from the road.

    BTW, I used to be TV news reporter. My cousin always told me I needed more makeup. One day, after I scared myself by looking like I was ready to join the circus, she said I looked perfect on TV.

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