Tips for a Book Tour, Part 2

Here’s the continuation of my tips for a book tour.  They may or may not work for you.

3. Be prepared for anything.

Your media schedule will tell you clearly if an event is voice only (radio) or video (television, video, etc.)  However, while this is important, I’ve realized that you need to be ready for all kinds of mixed media.  I’ve done live readings where they whisper to me a moment before I start talking that it will actually be recorded for a podcast.  Sometimes, you go to a radio interview but it turns out they’ll also film you as well.

I always try to look like an actual author when I go somewhere, but if I know I’ll be filmed, I will need to adjust my makeup.  While large studios like CNN will have their own makeup people, smaller ones won’t and you’ll need to do it yourself.  I’ve been done up by professional makeup artists several times by now and I’ve learned that I basically need to put on enough makeup to look scary.  When I have enough makeup on to frighten myself in the mirror, I know I’ve got enough on.

Here’s an example.  Yesterday, I was interviewed by “Literary News” with Chris McKenzie for Evergreen Radio, which will be broadcast on KUOW-FM:Seattle, KPBX-FM: Spokane, and KFAE-FM:Richmond.

Jean Kwok recording for Evergreen RadioJean Kwok with Chris McKenzie and John Pai

It’ll also be a podcast, but that’s all voice, right?  No visuals.  Wrong.  I was met by John Pai, the Producer, and he was holding a big ol’ camera.

Here’s another tip: if you wear makeup, be sure to always carry enough to make yourself look scary.  I ducked into the bathroom, frightened myself in the mirror, then came out.

Chris was so amazing hosting the interview, and we had a great time.

Then that evening, I had an interview with Larissa Min for the INTERNATIONAL EXAMINER right before my reading at the Elliot Bay Book Company, which is a legend among independent bookstores.

Jean Kwok and Larissa Min for THE INTERNATIONAL EXAMINER

Again, lots of photos were taken of me for the interview.  The reading was great as well:

Jean Kwok at Elliot Bay Book CompanyJean Kwok with her youngest fan

And I got to pose with my youngest fan, my old friend Rich Louie’s son, Keon, who is adorable!

So my point is, while we wouldn’t want to frighten the neighbors, do be prepared to look presentable at all times on your tour.

4. Say thank you.

A lot of people have done a lot of work to finalize all of the details for your tour, and I think it’s really important to thank everyone you meet.

I personally also make sure to be nice to my media escorts.  You can always recognize them because I get carsick like a five-year-old and the only way to address this is to have the air on at maximum the whole time I’m in the car, so my media escorts are the ones who look like they’ve just escaped from a tornado, because they have.

Another thing I’ve realized since this book tour is that hotels are very nice to authors.  You’ll find the funniest things in your room, like:

Goldfish in hotel room

Much as I enjoyed the company, I find myself worrying about the fish.  There doesn’t seem to be anything more vulnerable than being a goldfish named Debbie in a hotel room, and I also didn’t know if she liked the light on or off.

And hotels will give you stuff, like bottles of wine and extra flowers and chocolates.  At one hotel, I found a copy of my book.

‘That’s a strange gift,’ I thought, ‘I already have a copy of my book.’

I was about to pack it in my suitcase when I finally read the accompanying letter, which asked me to sign the book and give it back.  Good thing I read it.  At times, hotels will also write you handwritten notes, welcoming you – I always feel sorry for the staff person who was forced to do that.  And sometimes the manager even waits for you in the lobby to shake your hand.

In any case, since I can’t really get sloshed every night on the bottles of wine they give me, I always pass them on to my media escorts.

5. Things to have with you at all times.

There are certain things I always keep with me now.

Makeup, as mentioned earlier.

A copy of my book, because an interviewer for television or radio can suddenly ask you to read a passage from it.

Sharpies, for signing books.  I never knew this before, but most authors sign with Sharpies, and it seems that bookstores and readers like that as well.  I’m not sure why, but it certainly makes your little signature look really big and black.

A small blank notebook, for taking notes on the road or during an interview.  Sometimes during a radio interview, I’ll think of something I want to come back to later and I can quickly scribble down a note for myself instead of stuttering like crazy because my head is overloaded.

Camera.  I like giving it to my incredibly windblown media escorts, so they can get some photos while I do events.  That way, I have a record of the tour.

Laptop.  I’d thought about trying to just bring an Iphone or Blackberry instead, and I’m so glad I have my little pink netbook with me.

Jean's pink netbook

It allows me to stay up-to-date with things like my blog, and I could never have written that article for the NY DAILY NEWS (see earlier entry) otherwise.  And don’t knock its pinkness.  Most security guards at airports, which you’ll be seeing a lot of, are too busy saying, “Awwww, what a cute laptop” to send you to the Possible Terrorist room.

Your media schedule.  I actually bought a bag that was big enough to carry all of these things, and it was essential that it could hold my unfolded media schedule (so, the size of an unfolded sheet of paper).  Why unfolded?  Because chances are, your schedule will be too thick to fold.

Jean's handbag

You must keep your media schedule with you every waking moment of the day because it will tell you where you are, where you’re supposed to be, who’s going to meet you, and who you need to call when things go wrong. If you’re anything like me, you can lose track of where you are.

I was waiting at the airport yesterday, and the nice lady sitting next to me asked me where I was going.

“One moment,” I said, pulled out my schedule, and then announced, “Denver.”

She looked at me strangely, then decided to give me the benefit of the doubt and asked, “Where are you coming from, dear?”

I thought a second, then had to search my schedule again.  “Seattle.”

That was when she got up and changed seats.

BTW, I’ll be reading at The Tattered Cover in Denver tonight (I know this because I just checked my schedule).

Category: National Book Tour, Publishing | Tags: , , , , , , 2 comments »

Leave a Reply

2 Responses to “Tips for a Book Tour, Part 2”

  1. admin

    At least I won’t be cramped…

  2. Molly Weston

    Jean, now you’ve learned how to get a whole row of seats to yourself in the airport lounge! If the above doesn’t work, start an argument with yourself.


Back to top