Friday’s reading at Malaprop’s in Asheville, North Carolina marks the official end of my book tour for MSATNM. I enjoyed it. There were a few early flights — I had to rise around 4:30 in the morning on more than one occasion — but, amid all the delays and cancellations I’ve been reading about it, I had not a single one. Everywhere I needed to go I got to, on time, without problem. So a shout out to all the wonderful airlines I flew on: thanks! I guess you knew how important it was I got to Lexington, and Nashville, and Jackson . . .
Of the four tours I’ve done, this was the best. Big Fish comes in a close second, Ray in Reverse third, and The Watermelon King a distant fourth. Why? I like to think it was because MSATNM is better than the other three (which it is) but I don’t believe this is really true. After a book is on the shelves for a while and people have a chance to read it and tell other people to read it, it creates a life of its own and becomes known and read and all that, and then eventually drifts away into obscurity. In the beginning then, how does a book get to be known?
Marketing. Publicity. TV and radio time. Newspaper interviews. And this has less to do with the book in question (if you’re me, anyway) than it does with the publicity and marketing machine behind the book, people who believe in it and will do everything they can to make others believe in it as well. The Watermelon King is a good book and deserved more readers than it got, but (for various reasons) the machine behind it malfunctioned. Word did not get out, and it drifted away into obscurity (skipping the two middle steps). Doubleday didn’t let that happen with MSATNM. They loved the book, which might appear to be self-evident, since they bought it, but love doesn’t always translate into action and this time it did. I was on television seven times, on the radio four, had four recorded interviews and a few newspaper pieces, a bunch of reviews and a lunch at the Book Expo which I think was at least partially responsible for a number of big reviews. I had over a hundred people at two events, and fifty plus at a few more. The only disappointment was Lexington, where one person came. And that wasn’t a real disappointment because that one person was very nice. And it’s not over. They’re still working to get more — more of everything. I’m just not going to have to travel so much from now on.
I have a couple of dates later in August (Scottsdale AZ and Mobile AL) and then one or two in September, and then three in October. There may be more, but none have been scheduled yet. As far as what’s this done for sales, I know it helped, but I really have no idea how the book is doing in this regard. If you go to Amazon it doesn’t look that great, but I hope there are people out there buying their books at actual stores, especially independents.
The book has been out about a month. It’s just a baby. Almost everything surrounding this experience has been positive, so I count myself very lucky. This is certainly not the end of this commentary, because there’s a lot more to tell. But now, at least, I’m at home, working on the next book.