5 Ways to Ensure Your First Self-Publishing Book Tour Goes Off with a Bang

After all the revisions, rewrites, and late nights, it’s finally time to launch your self-published book!

Hopefully, you’ve secured the best blurbs for your book jacket, perfected your author photo, and have built up your email list. Maybe you’re even ready to submit to self-published book awards to garner some momentum.

And while all these elements are crucial, one of the best ways to get the word out about your self-published book can be through a book tour.

It’s true — gone are the days when publishers (even many of the larger ones) will shell out the cash to support you on a book tour. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make it happen for yourself!

Why Should You Do a Book Tour as a Self-Published Author?

Nobody can care about your self-published book as much as you. Organizing a book reading (or multiple) can make a big difference not only in book sales but also building your reputation as a self-published author.

And because you’re in charge, that also means you get to choose where you go and what you do on your book tour!

Think of it as an opportunity to visit a place you’ve always wanted to see, or maybe a chance to reach a specific demographic of your readers you haven’t accessed yet. Make a list of “dream” locations, then see if there’s anything about that place that relates to your book’s content and target reader.

You can also challenge yourself to partner with an organization or business that relates to your book. For historical fiction, try looking up local museums, libraries, and historical societies — these could be great places for book signings!

No matter what you do or where you go on a book tour, you’ll meet new people, share your passion for your work, and likely perfect your author signature!

What Do Authors Do on Book Tours?

You’ve likely seen many authors posted up at tables signing books in bookstores but don’t let this limit your imagination.

It’s wise to find a few bookstores for signings, as bookstores (especially independent ones) often host authors and book events. But depending on the content of your book and its target audience, other venues might also make sense to find new readers.

For example, if you have a book about the history of Italian wines, perhaps you can find a local wine shop that could host you for a private event or tasting. You can also look into upcoming wine events in your city and ask to have a table with your book available for signing.

Other non-traditional spots like include cafes, brick-and-mortar shops, museums and galleries, or retail spaces could be the perfect place for a live reading or author Q&A (or both).

If your book relates to theater, music, or art, you’ll find loads of niche events to showcase your book and meet new readers and soon-to-be fans.

How to Plan Your Self-Published Book Tour

Book tour planning can feel like a lot of work, especially when you’re still hammering out launch details. But with some research and know-how, you can organize your own affordable book tour that will drum up momentum for your self-published book.

Like your self-published book, your book tour should be unique and personalized. Here are some tips to get you started as you plan a successful book tour and capture the attention of future fans and lifelong readers.

1. Do Your Research

You’re likely already a pro at research if you’re a self-published author, but it’s worth emphasizing. Spending the time to research before you head out on a book tour can be the difference between an amazing experience and a waste of time and money.

Be selective about venues — not every bookstore will be the right fit for your book. Consider your audience, too. Where do your readers hang out? Where do they buy their books? And what kinds of non-book events are they likely to attend?

Are you putting out a new sci-fi novel? Why not research upcoming Comic Cons and see if you can do a signing or event there? You’re sure to find your fan base (and a few Trekkies) there.

For children’s book authors, think about where parents enjoy taking their kids. Libraries, children’s theaters, and interactive museums are all great places to propose a reading or book event.

Consider booking an “anchor gig” — one big event that you plan other small book signings around. If your audience is in a specific city, look into events happening over the next year that you can pitch yourself to and create a personalized email including the details of your book and what you hope to get from an event.

2. Make Some Calls

If you have networking skills or connections around the world, now is the time to use them!

Take a look through any business cards, emails, and phone contacts you’ve collected over the years. These contacts could be potential audience members at an event or someone who could help with a certain aspect of your book tour planning.

It’s also never a bad idea to contact other indie authors you know who have already done book tours. Most authors are happy to share resources, advice, and things that made their book tours a little easier.

This is also an opportunity to collaborate! You can find related authors who already have a following to make a bigger event and draw from their audiences.

You might find that a specific author has a cult following on social media. Working with them and posting promotional content on both your channels will give you an even better chance at getting a packed house at your event.

For children’s book authors, consider collaborating with parent-lead book clubs. They’re always looking for a new book to discuss and might love hosting you for an author Q&A.

3. Stick to Your Budget

Even if you’re making a lot of sales, it’s important to make and stick to a budget on a book tour. This can keep you focused and help your career in the long term as you navigate the business side of self-publishing.

If you’re interested in speaking opportunities, you might pitch yourself to an organization that will pay you to speak at a conference or event as a keynote speaker. Take a look at organizations and companies that relate to your topic or genre.

For example, personal memoirs on health issues can reach out to local health groups to give talks about how they overcame their illness. Children’s book authors can pitch an event to a school or kid-centered organization.

Many groups include speaking fees in their budgets or will cover your airfare, lodging, and food.

In terms of what to expect when you’re selling your books at an event, make sure you have an agreement with the venue or bookseller before you arrive. Depending on the nature of their business, they may request a cut of your sales, or simply let you sell your own books at the event.

Be sure to keep track of your expenses while on a book tour as well. You might even be able to write some things off on your taxes at the end of the year!

4. Have Your Book Ready to Go

This sounds like a simple thing, but sometimes even the best plans can go awry.

If your books have yet to be printed, it would be wise to wait to set off on your book tour until they’re ready. Shipments can often be delayed, or reprints may be necessary, making it a risky move to plan around for a book tour.

Make sure you have a healthy amount of books on hand for the size and scope of your event. If you’re traveling, you might also consider shipping a box or two of your books to the venue beforehand.

But a word of caution: packages can get lost, and if this happens to you last minute, you’ll be out of luck! So be sure to have a backup plan like selling your books through a QR code or link if you don’t have them with you.

5. How to Market Your Self-Published Tour

A book tour is nothing without a big marketing push before and after your events.

To make the most of your self-published book tour, you’ll want to:

  • Update your author website with any dates, ticket information, and locations of events
  • Schedule social media updates and utilize #BookTok
  • Contact relevant media outlets for interviews and news coverage
  • Send out email blasts throughout your tour
  • Hire a local photographer (or friend) to take photos during your book signings to use for ongoing marketing
  • If working alongside another author with a bigger following, get on Instagram Live the week prior to discuss your books and the upcoming tour
  • Consider adding a virtual element to your tour, like a Zoom call or Q&A

Get to Know Your Audience

Like anything you do as a self-published author, it’s important to keep up the momentum in your career. One successful book can lead to more books and opportunities, giving you more freedom to do what you love — write!

A great way to further yourself as an established author is to always keep up with the amazing people you meet during your book tour! Let them know how your tour is going, which events you’re dying to be at, and how they can get in touch to ask questions about your work.

After your get home from your whirlwind tour, don’t forget to thank your fans and send them updates on what’s next.

Learn more about building your email list as a self-published author >

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