Years ago, I had at least one book event scheduled every month, sometimes in-town, sometimes out-of- town, but it was commonplace for me to get out and about to meet my readers.
In my opinion, things have changed. Before, there was a pretty good budget allocated by my publisher(s) for tours. And what wasn't covered, I took care of, making sure to stay visible. And then budgets lessened, and authors pretty much took over the entire cost of their own tours. There were places to be, book stores ready to schedule authors, festivals to participate in, book club members to meet, and conferences to attend. And over time, a lot of authors found that sometimes, the turnout was not what it had been, yet the expense of traveling, along with the cost of signing tables, book seller splits, etc., remained.
Nowadays, though books cost less and authors are more abundant, I make sure that the appearances I do schedule allow for good opportunity to reach readers, and that the event planner is doing some sort of advertising and promotion, with the understanding that I, as an author, will promote as well. To be able to meet readers and mingle with fellow authors, can be some of the best experiences of an author's career. The feedback and camaraderie are invaluable, not to mention book club meetings, which are intimate and fun, sitting among readers in their homes or chatting over dinner in a restaurant. Priceless!
The big picture involves considering the cost of travel, whether or not the organizer is paying expenses, availability, and the timing factor. All are key.
It is a fact that I don't book as many events as I did before. I mean things really have changed, mainly involving the popularity of ebooks (events and signings require print books). I understand that I'm not alone in this realization. While some authors do schedule event after event all year long, and some only schedule tours around book release dates (maybe a book launch party), I think the reason some have cut back is because there are so many other ways to reach out to readers. Social media, online radio, blogs, video chats, live posts on Facebook, Instagram, etc., and scheduled book webinar events, all cost little to nothing, and they don't require authors, or readers, to leave the comfort of their homes. And, you can buy inexpensive ads, like Facebook sponsored spots. But I'm not talking about advertising. I'm talking about promoting.
Have you found that you've been down-scaling your scheduled in-person appearances over the past few years? Do you think that getting out and staying visible helps to increase book sales, as opposed to online connections, or are you like a couple of my author friends who say they'd rather spend that time writing, and so they pump out book after book, because in their opinions, readers would rather read us than meet us, lol.
Bottom line is, for the rest of this year, and definitely into 2017, I'm going to try my best to schedule more ways to connect one-on-one with my readers. They're worth it, and their energy inspires me to keep writing. So readers, holla at your girl if you see me sitting at a table with a stack of books, pen in hand, reaching out to hand you a bookmark!!
Oh, the many hats of being a author!