Friday, July 28, 2006

Tour Day 26 and 27

Miles driven so far: 5313
Bookstores visited so far: 235
Books signed so far: 2156
Books hand sold so far: 153
Bookstores remaining: 265
Drink coasters signed: 3400
Bookstore employees I've met: 442

Take a look at that last statistic. As I near the halfway point on this tour, I've met 442 booksellers. These are 442 people who have heard my pitch, seen my face, looked at my books, and shaken my hand. Many of them have also received a free copy of RUSTY NAIL.

I'm carrying around a journal which has all 442 names in it, and I've informed each of these booksellers that they will have their name listed in the acknowledgements of DIRTY MARTINI, coming out next year.

What's the value of this? Can you even put a value on it?

By the end of this tour, I'll have met roughly 1000 booksellers. Let's say that half of those booksellers quit, or get fired, or get jobs elsewhere. Of the 500 that are left, lets say half of those forgot about me ten seconds after I left. Of the 250 that are left, let's say that 4/5 of them didn't like me, or don't like mysteries, or don't like their jobs, or simply don't care.

That leaves 50 booksellers who really like me and my books and who are excited to handsell them.

A motivated bookseller can sell dozens, if not hundreds, of books. They'll put my books on end caps and in displays, on front tables even though there is no coop, and face out instead of spine out in the sections. They'll special order them, shortlist them, and jobber them in, even if their computer tells them they should only stock four. They'll recommend the books to customers, who will then become fans. Some of them will even stay in touch with me and become friends.

There are already a handful of booksellers who have each sold over a hundred copies of my books. If I can add 50 more to their ranks, that's an extra 5000 books sold a year. But it goes beyond that. If a stores sells a lot of copies, more copies are shipped to other stores in that area, anticipating the demand. More copies in a store means more shelf space, more face-outs, and more sales.

And 50 is actually a very low estimate. I've already met over 150 booksellers so far who were really excited to meet me and get a free book. I believe many of these folks will continue to sell my series, even if we never meet again.

Has this tour been effective? Hell yes. In fact, I think this tour is the smartest thing I've ever done for my career. I'm recruiting a nation-wide sales force. Normal book tours can't do that. Neither can advertising, marketing, or publicity. I truly believe that this is the future of book tours, whether you like it or not.

In other news, I'm currently in Boston, and had drinks last night with fellow writers Jeremiah Healy and Adam Hurtubise. Adam then took me to an amazing steakhouse and treated me to filet oscar and Bookers on the rocks. After a month of eating day-old muffins, I thought I'd died and gone to food heaven. Thanks, Adam! I'm naming a child after you.

Adam and I talked late into the night about this business. He's a savvy guy, and if you don't already read his blog, you should.

More stores in Boston and Rhode Island today and tomorrow, and eventually I'll get up north and then west to Albany. Then begins my trek down the East Coast, ending up in Florida by mid August.

If all goes well, I'll hit store 250 tonight, ahead of schedule.