On the joys, as opposed to horrors, of the book tour

This guy gives some perspective on something lots of author profess to hate. I love a book tour. For me, it’s my once-every-3-or-4-years chance to see friends in person. I drink too much and eat only foods from the “Golden/Fried” branch of the Canadian Food Guide (it’s in the fine print, people), and occasionally I stay out late, forget I’m middle-aged, and dance with some young people.

Sadly, it’s highly doubtful I’ll be travelling this year when my Selected comes out in September. I’m already booked virtually at a few festivals and such, but the idea of traipsing about the continent to read in tight spaces to groups of people who may or may not have been vaccinated sort of weirds the Howard Hughes part of me out.

Too bad I won’t get my quota of hugging people I would normally never hug. But in a weird way, it also takes the pressure off. Getting dressed? Pfft. Forget it. Finding out my hot-guy shirts don’t fit me anymore? Put that off for another year. Watching people on TV fight over storage lockers in lonely hotel rooms? Well… yeah, that I’ll miss.

Now to convince the publisher to sink the money they’d have spent on plane tickets and such into some sort of e-thing or i-whosie that does the electro-commerce through the googles and u-tubez or whatever.

Okay, maybe nobody throws their panties onstage, and any publicity trek is admittedly fatiguing and economically barren, except for the hypothetical casting of bread upon the waters. But in my experience book tours aren’t that bad, and can even be fun — at least the kind I do. Mind, as a solidly “mid-range author,” I have never been called on to make the twenty cities in twenty days, sandwiched between Charlie Rose and Oprah, kind of glitz-blitz. Maybe those marathons really are as awful as the gripers make out. Yet taking a new book out into the world is not only a rare chance to air and share that which you’ve worked damned hard to create, but also to interact as a social creature in the complex ecology of bookselling after many months of solitary labor. At a long-ago awards banquet, Barry Lopez spoke of “the community of readers and writers.” I’ve never forgotten that lovely term, and I would add librarians and booksellers to this charmed assemblage. The book tour is the ecotone where all these mutually dependent organisms commingle: the magic terrain where the habitats of scribbler, peddler, and reader meet.

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