The Real World

By • Feb 8th, 2010 • Category: 26th Story, Books, Travel

I made 2 New Year’s resolutions for 2010.

1) Try to expand my food repertoire by cooking a recipe from a cookbook once a week. I’ve already broken this resolution after my first few recipes were flops.

2) Get out in the real world more. Everyone’s talking about online marketing and social networking these days…but I want to give a plug for getting together in real life too.

Yesterday I saw two authors in the “real world” and it was worth more than a million emails.

Turns out Ellen Galinsky isn’t just the President and Co-Founder of Families and Work Institute as well as the author of the forthcoming book Mind in the Making — she also happens to be an amazing photographer. I had the pleasure of seeing her latest exhibit yesterday in Dobbs Ferry.

After being inspired by Ellen, it was off to meet upcoming HarperStudio author Sascha Zuger for dinner with her son and parents. We’ve been Twitter buddies for a while, and I’ve been psyched to read her memoir about her journey from a 9 to 5 office job to working on a commercial shrimp boat on the Great Barrier Reef and sailing across the South Pacific — but nothing compares to hearing her awesome adventure stories over a bowl of pasta. Having a kid hasn’t seemed to slow her down an iota (if I heard her correctly, I believe she said she’s traveled to 20 countries with her 7 year old son?). Crazy. Inspiring. Can’t wait to read her book even more now.

And speaking of the real world, everyone’s always asking me if the book tour is dead — and honestly, I’m not sure. I do believe there’s a bigger opportunity to make it successful using the tools available today on the internet as well as by being extra creative. Here are two book tours that I want to point out as food for thought:

Stephen Elliott wrote about The D.I.Y Book Tour in the New York Times about a month ago. It doesn’t seem perfect, but certainly interesting and seemed worthwhile if you ask me.

Gretchen Rubin has done (and continues to do) a big tour. I’ve been following along on her blog and it seems that there are a lot of “Happiness is a Great Book Event in…” posts — so she did something right. I know she asked the readers of her blog early on where they’d be interested in having her visit, and I believe part of the tour may have been sponsored by a magazine (I don’t know more details than that), but I’m dying for the full wrap up from Gretchen on what worked and why, and what to skip in the future.

And then of course there was Gary’s tour which was a huge success. Check out the Facebook pages he created which really helped spread the word and gauge numbers in advance.

Would love to hear from anyone out there about what you find working in the real world…

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  • Dan Schawbel

    I think that the book tour is dead for people that don't have large following and major mainstream exposure. Gretchen's book was a #1 NY Times bestseller and her blog gets tens of thousands of visitors and she was on the Today Show. Most authors can't even get a blog book review, so they shouldn't try and invest in a book tour. The problem is that most successful books (in terms of revenue) are successful because of bulk book purchases from a speakers platform, from companies and from book tours (if you're famous). This is why most authors fail to pay back their advance.

    Nice post Debbie.

  • Debbie Stier

    Well, the good news is that Gretchen built her blog to tens of thousands of visitors on her own, just like every other author is able to do. I think the authors who can't get a blog book review aren't putting in the effort. Absolutely takes a TON of effort. Hopefully you love what you do so it doesn't feel like “work.”

    Just curious where you're getting the info about the bulk book purchases being a necessary component. It's not that I don't agree it can seriously help, but not sure Gretchen or Pioneer Woman had that. Maybe….but not to my knowledge.

    Thanks Dan.

  • Ed_Cyzewski

    After thinking about your food resolution and Gary's book I had the thought of a follow up book:
    “If Life Gives You Lemons, Crush It!” or I suppose them…

    One thing that I've enjoyed in the real world is getting to know the booksellers at a local independent book store. As we've gotten to know each other they'll share things like, “I just sold one of your books today!” While I value just getting to know them and to chat about books, the time they spend with me also helps them figure out who may be interested in my book.

    And though you didn't solicit this advice, I strongly recommend the Moosewood Simple Suppers for easy dinner ideas and the food blog 101 Cook Books–especially the orange glazed tempeh recipe she has on there. I can't follow directions or measure correctly (really, you can ask my wife) and I still managed to make a few edible meals.

  • Debbie Stier

    Ed, you made me smile (and I was cranky). Thanks.

  • derekdisqus

    I had that problem recently. I went to the bookstore to look for a cookbook. All the ones in the store were absolutely gorgeous. But when you look at the instructions, you discover the recipes take hours to prepare, require dozens of ingredients, multiple cooking steps, and they make enough to feed 6 people. Does anyone really do that when they get home from work? What I did in the end was to watch the cooking shows on TV and improvise. Now I can throw together something in 25 minutes. Improvise!

  • Debbie Stier

    Tonight I cooked salmon with garlic; pasta with garlic, olive oil and parmesan cheese, steamed french beans; and salad (with a ton of stuff in it). It took me about 45 mins (lots of time to clean, chop, etc.) and 45 mins to clean up.

    But when my son said “Mom, THIS is the food I like. It's SIMPLE,” I felt completely vindicated for having giving up on my new year's resolution.

    For my kids, simple is better. Cookbook recipes tend to be “too much.”

  • IvanaSendecka

    Hi Debbie,
    thanks for sharing your experiences with us.
    Indeed, the real thing is a different cup of coffee.
    I personally do see it as reward after hours and hours of online connecting and collaboration.
    Last year were 6 months of “lonely” days and hours in front of PC rewarded by
    meeting for the first time team members of NGLS project:
    and executing life changing 2 days long workshop.
    This year I am planning to meet many more of my online contact via being part of
    TEDxBratislava organizing team.
    Moreover, just minutes ago, I have received phone call from unknown person,
    who has heard about me via my latest video blog, who she said was inspiring
    and i have been asked to conduct a training on social media and networking for
    an even called National Career Days in Slovakia.
    So, tons of online sweat, will soon or later lead to the real world;-)
    have a super cool day, guys
    cheers from Poprad in Slovakia

  • Debbie Stier

    Hi Ivana…..I love that story! And it's been my experience too.

  • Derek

    I went to a talk by Adyshanti over the summer, and as a result I subsequently bought a book and a CD he'd authored. But it wasn't a book tour per se. It was more like a series of talks he gave in different cities.

  • Don Lafferty

    Book signings are an important part of an author's personal publicity machine. Important, that is, if the author has a solid web presence where they can churn their home spun media.

    Notice, I didn't say “book tour” or “publisher” because most authors won't be going on a publisher-sponsored book tour. They'll be driving as far as they can afford, to visit the booksellers that'll have them – which is also becoming more of a challenge for debut and mid-list authors because the bookstores don't want to bring in the book unless they're sure it'll sell out at the signing.

    But there are ways to change it up to offer the bookstore and the reader an alternative author event experience.

    1. Partner up – we all know other authors in our backyards. Form a marketing alliance with a handful of other local authors and pitch panel events. This gives readers a chance to get to know you without the awkwardness that can often accompany a one-on-one event. It also multiplies the pre-promotion of the event by the number of authors involved.

    When authors are between books, these types of events keep them in the public eye. When they have a book to promote, the other authors in the group who are between books can get the same pull-along benefit.

    This kind of strategy can also extend the “shelf life” of a book beyond the return period.

    2. Always take copious pictures when you're appearing somewhere. Better yet, bring somebody along to photograph EVERYTHING about the event.

    Get POSED pics of you with the staff and one with you and the bookstore owner(s) if possible, a pic of you in front of the bookstore (with the sign), some random pics of the store (if it's an indie, capture the uniqueness of the store in your pics and get a little background on the history of the place). When somebody actually buys your book ask them if you can have a pic of you and them for your FB Fan page. Make sure you get the correct spelling of peoples' names, and invite them to connect with you so you can tag them.

    When posing for pics TAKE MORE THAN ONE PIC. The more people in the shot, the more likely somebody is going to have their eyes closed or their mouth open or hate the pic for some other reason. More shots give you more opportunities to capture GOOD pics of everybody.

    If you grab any video, put it on your YouTube channel and post a link on your Facebook fan page. Then let the people in the video know where they can find it.

    Write up the event on your blog. It doesn't have to be a journalistic feat, just an honest, accurate representation of the event and the bookstore. You're creating a future marketing piece for yourself AND for the bookstore. Then when you pitch other bookstores to do events, you can send them links directing the bookseller to these records of past events. When the bookstore sees that they're going to wind up with a nice piece they can use to promote, they'll be more likely to host you.

    Oh, right, this is just a comment. I'll stop now, but you see what I mean.

  • rap

    you just inspired me to get up off my can and see whats out in the real world