Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Truth about Book Tours from Ingrid and Hank

HANK: Boarding passes! Wake up calls! And wonderful memories. Ingrid's on the road for DUPLICITY--so let's talk book tour--with all its secrets, pitfalls and crossed fingers. And, if you're lucky, occasionally room service. Secrets below! 
INGRID: A book tour is an amazing, albeit exhausting experience.  But book tours—especially for series—can also be weird, like you’re in a time warp.  Depending upon your publication schedule, the book you’re promoting may well be a distant memory.  My publishers like to get my books from me a year before my pub date, so by the time I hit the road, I’m well into writing the next installment.  I have to remind myself what’s been revealed in previous books, what’s in the new one, and what secrets are in my computer waiting to be sprung on the readers a year later. 

HANK: Exactly. By the time the book comes out, I’m well into the next—even, because of the schedule, still working on it! You really have to yank your brain from the story you’re writing—to the one that you’re so delighted finally exists, with a gorgeous cover, and wonderful reviews, and whew! It’s finally time to talk about it.  If only you could remember it.

INGRID:  There has been at least one occasion during which I’ve had to ask the readers to remind me of a name or a timeline issue, which is kind of embarrassing, but it’s hard to keep track of dozens of characters.  So be kind if the author suffers from a momentary brain freeze; most likely she’s trying to avoid any spoilers!

HANK:  SO funny—people say—why did such-and-such a person do whatever? And I think—ah, I have NO idea! But one or two stops into the tour, I’m back in the flow. And it’s wonderful.

But book tour has its techniques. Pitfalls. And secrets. Right? For instance:

Aisle or window?  Why?
INGRID: Aisle, because I know I’ll need the restroom, and being stuck in the window will make me need it even more.

HANK: Oh, yeah. Climbing over two sleeping people is so impossible. Even though I love to look out the window and see the geography change, aisle has its compelling plusses.

Airport secret?
INGRID:  That the candy you buy in airports has no calories.

HANK: Oooh, true! I love having oatmeal with raisins. Such a treat. And on a big layover, you can buy a day pass to an airport lounge. (Amazing. Free cheese.)  Also  I love to get there so early! I Fitbit around the concourse and get steps. Instant exercise, and no stress.

Worst or best airport experience. 
INGRID: I love seeing my book in the airport bookstore.  That never gets old.

HANK: SO great! But I have to say the worst: The time I was sitting at the wrong gate. Why?  So tired. Because so may flights are so early in the morning, lots of the time I am sleep deprived. Luckily at one point groggy me thought, wow, aren’t they boarding? And yeah, they were. But not where I was. I made it. Barely. 

Room service?
INGRID: Yes!  Eating on the road is challenging because you’re generally traveling or at an event.  Sometimes I’ll order room service after an event when I can put my feet up and relax.  I’ve also learned that even though it’s over-priced, a solid room service breakfast sets me up for a good day.  Nobody wants a hangry author!

HANK: Oh, my gosh yes.  Those tiny moments, by yourself, with a hamburger and salad and wine and the chocolate chip cookies I hoarded from Jet Blue, and watching Project Runway or Chopped. I’m not kidding—it is heaven.

Hotel secret?
INGRID: I don’t have any hotel secrets!  Hank?  You guys?

HANK:  Got it from Rhys—take a photo of the room number so you don’t forget where you are. I usually use mnemonic devices like  if I’m in room 117—well, that’s easy Jonathan’s birthday. Or 203? That would be February 3. Why is that easier? AH. It just is. PLUS: take the skim milk from the free breakfast and use it in your tea.

Worst or best hotel experience?
INGRID: I was getting ready to leave a very nice hotel in Texas, looking around and gathering my belongings, when I spotted a ginormous cockroach on the floor.  I think it was dead, but I packed with the speed of Usain Bolt.  I did not care if things were left behind!

HANK: Bug for me, too! I arrived at a hotel in some Midwest place, and there was a printed notice on the desk with a photo of a HUGE—I mean HUGE—bug. And it said—Dear Guests, I’s corn bug season. If you see one of these in your room, no problem, they are not dangerous. I thought—If I see one of those babies in my room, you will hear my shriek all the way to the lobby.

You won't believe what happened at one bookstore....
INGRID: …they hadn’t set up for the event.  There was a mad dash when I arrived, which is always a great way to start a public appearance!

HANK:  Very reassuring. Yeesh. Oh, mine was a two person event. They did not have my books., only hers. I had CALLED, to make sure. And was assured they’d have them. When I reminded them of the call, they said oh, we  thought you were talking about HER books.
(Um, why would I be doing that?)
But! Later they asked me back for a huge event. So, all worth it.

Reading from your book--or not?
INGRID: I’m torn on this one, and obviously, I defer to the bookstore.  I lean towards not reading and having more time to interact with readers.

HANK: Ah. I rarely do, unless specifically asked. I have seen it fail with others, I mean—miserably. But when it’s good, it’s terrific.

Best part of touring?
INGRID: Definitely meeting readers and bookstore people.

HANK: Oh, gosh, I agree. And I can confess to you, I count my blessings every second. How lucky we are to get to do this!

Where we'll see you next? Together in Framingham!
HANK: Ingrid’s coming to Boston! And I’ll be interviewing her at Barnes and Noble in Framingham at 7pm—oh, please come see us!  I read DUPLICITY last week, and it is quite special, and truly riveting. And lots to talk about!

INGRID: So Reds—do you go to bookstore and library events? What do you think about authors reading? Any advice for touring authors? And authors, tell us your secrets!


  1. Goodness, ladies, your touring adventures make for very interesting reading. [And I must agree that the bugs are definitely scream-worthy.]
    Yes, I most definitely go to bookstore and library events . . . an author reading doesn’t bother me; in fact, it’s rather special to hear authors reading their own words.

  2. Hank and Ingrid: Such fun and horrific touring stories from both of you! Airport lounges and room service definitely seem the way to do it! You both deserve some pampering! Enjoy the Duplicity book tour, Ingrid, and the joint book signing/interview.

    Yes, I do go to bookstore and library events, mainly to support local authors. We don't get a lot of best seller authors here in Ottawa. A big of a mixed bag in terms of an author reading an excerpt from their book. Some do it well, and make you want to read the book. Others do it so poorly (or choose the wrong passage) that it turns me off.

  3. Grace, I should come to Ottawa to see my sister after Bouchercon - and do a book event! What bookstore do you recommend I contact?

    Hank - is Jonathan's birthday next week (in which case he shares it with my Hugh) or is he a Scorpio - like me?!

    Readings - to make it work they have to be short and end on a great hook. Otherwise skip it. I SO wish I could make Framingham tomorrow, but I have a competing event. You both will rock it.

  4. I love going to bookstore and library events to support both local and visiting authors. Come to New York and you'll see me. I don't mind if authors read from their book, especially if it is to enhance something they mentioned in their talk.

    A hotel tip: put a post-it note on the peephole of your room. This way no one can see if you're in the room or not.

    Bugs will have me screaming from a room and a non-working thermostat.


  5. Great post-it tip, Dru!

    I'm curious, if a writer does read, how long is too long in terms of time? Five minutes?

    How about this for a coincidence? Tonight, I'm staying in the hotel where the bug incident occurred! I hope I really am the only living creature in my room!

  6. Edith: Coming to Ottawa to visit your sister and do a book signing sounds great!
    Our national bookstore chain is called Chapters/Indigo.
    There is one in the downtown core on Rideau Street.
    I will send you the contact details via email.

    And ugh for typos in my first early post: should read "BIT of a mixed bag".
    My Grammerly app is supposed to catch these mistakes, grrr!

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  8. I love bookstore events. They keep me going between book conventions.

    If an author is really good at reading aloud AND they have a short effective passage to read, I don't mind that. But I much prefer to here talk of other things and answers to audience questions.

    Just found out that Ian Rankin is doing a US book tour this winter and is coming very close to me. Can't wait for that. That is the trouble with being fans of overseas authors, you only get to see them on occasion. I'm sure the Brits feel the same about our authors.

  9. Great post Ingrid and Hank--I would love to be in Framingham too! Here's my question--do you check for bedbugs every time you enter a new room? (I can hear Hallie laughing at me...) Because I DID find them once...

    As for reading, I only read short snatches that illustrate something I was telling the audience about. We have a wonderful Friends of the Library speaker series in Key West and occasionally, a speaker will read all the way through his or her hour. So boring! Although if the speaker was Wally Lamb, I'd listen all day...

  10. Hallie, I hope to see you, too, but Hank and I will be in Framingham tomorrow night, Friday night.

    I hadn't even thought about bedbugs! I've never checked, although I probably should. I'm usually so tired when I get to that part of the day, I don't even think about it!

  11. Oh, Lucy, after your incident :-) I started checking, then I stopped. Before I unpack though, I always check to see if the hot water works, and if the television works, I learned from experience. One time the guy told me I wasn't using the remote correctly, got to turn the television on, I had to point the remote at the ceiling. To him this made sense, and I guess for good reason, because it worked.

  12. And I always go crazy trying to turn on the shower. How many different kinds of ways can there be to turn on the shower? And does the redline mean you're getting more hot or less hot?

  13. I love this. YES, they never warn you in any of the how-to writing workshops about how hard it is to remember what happened in earlier books or in the book you're currently promoting when you're already well into writing the next one! Not that I'm complaining. It's a marvelous problem to have!

    I agree with aisle seats because of the restroom issue. However on shorter hops, I do like the window seat.

    Sticky note over the peep hole? Dru, that's genius!

    Oh, who am I kidding. These are ALL great ideas. Taking notes.

  14. I find the potential for toe-stubbing quite high. Unfamiliar room layouts and different thresholds throw me off.

    I will say that when on the road, I never wake up wondering where I am. However, I'm positive that one night next week, I'll wake in the middle of the night, in my own bed, and think, "Where am I?" Very weird, but it happens after every tour!

  15. *NEVER* miss a chance at a restroom. E V E R! Never, ever, EVER, miss a shot.

  16. Reposting... since I had the wrong night...

    Terrific post! So much fun to join the pains as well as the pleasures... because there are both.

    The trick with reading is to pick a really compelling and SHORT (5 minutes or fewer IMHOP)... Especially if you're a good reader. Do it near the end and tell them you won't go on for long.

    Ingrid, hoping to see you TOMORROW night in Framingham!!

  17. Hank yes - the showers! Why can't they all work the same way?

    Will, I have a friend who does marathons/triathlons and she says the same thing: never pass up a chance to use the bathroom.

    I admit to preferring window seats.

    And yes, the bug would have freaked me out.

    Readings: keep it short. And if you do it, try to put some drama - don't read in monotone. If you aren't comfortable doing it, don't.

    I will store all these tips for someday when I get to do a book tour - maybe. Hopefully. In my fantasies. :)

  18. I agree, and five minutes is almost too long! When somebody is good they are very good, it's really a treat to listen to, (Gregg Hurwitz comes to mind,) but you are so right, it has to be on the verge of performance.

    And pssst… This may be the first post ever done from a dentist chair! Might as well use my time efficiently, right?

  19. And Will, you are so right! Never miss a chance to use the restroom, always take the water, and always carry a snack.

  20. Ingrid, sending you good thoughts for your book tour.
    I have so many horror stories of flights and hotels, like the time I was put out at a hotel in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of a snow storm. I did drive by signings all morning then was delivered to my hotel to rest up before my evening event. I hadn't eaten since I left the previous city at 6 that morning.
    "Where's the coffee shop? I asked.
    "It closed at 2," I was told.
    "Room service?"
    "No room service."
    I looked out at the expanse of snow. Nothing in sight. Then I was told they had a hotel shuttle. The desk clerk drove me around until we spotted..... Golden Arches. So the hotel bus went through the drive through and I survived.

  21. LOL on not remembering the details of the book you are touring for - I once got my series mixed up and started talking about the wrong series at a book signing. Doh! I'm not big on reading aloud - feels to lectury (new word) so I prefer not to but I did attend a signing by Neil Gaiman and he read aloud and it was lovely. The Brits can say anything and it's wonderful so maybe if I were British I'd be more inclined to read to the audience.
    I did get to see our Ingrid at the Poisoned Pen last night - packed house - and she was smart, funny, and charming, naturally. If any of you get a chance to catch her on tour, I highly recommend attending.

    Back to revision madness...

  22. Readings? Not as much as just meeting the author and learning more about their books, although hearing an author read their own work is sometimes instructive for inflection, etc. I'm usually more interested in the back story of where the idea or inspiration came from. I find that endlessly fascinating. Some authors are funny, and I do enjoy humor in an author talk.

    I spent many years on the road, too, traveling not to bookstores but to consumer shows. Some of the stories are funny: thin hotel walls in a really nice Indy hotel, with an incredibly amorous couple on the other side; a mouse that went from my boss's room to mine next to it, and his hilarious reaction; a prostitute being shared by two different men whose rooms were opposite ours--the traffic back and forth, with attendant door slamming was bad enough, and then they refused to pay her. All hell broke loose then. And my friend with whom I traveled, 6'2", who realized that for our three-day stay one of her three outfits had moth holes all down the front. We were staying out in the boonies, and there was no hope of finding a new outfit for someone her size. Her solution was brilliant, though, creating a new outfit out of unlikely materials. By hand.

    Luckily, I never had any really scary experiences. I did come to enjoy the convenience of having a real breakfast in my own room a few times, although it's an expensive indulgence.

  23. I love going to book events! I don't go to as many as I used to because authors don't come to bookstores close enough to me to make it doable.

  24. Yes, I get so stressed trying not to give spoilers, I get brain freeze every time! Love you ladies' stories on the road. So much good info!

  25. Hank, I agree, a good reading does verge on performance--I think a good reader is a natural storyteller (as opposed to being a good writer, too!). Like Karen, I prefer to hear the author talk about the craft of writing, the ideas for the characters, just anything, really, because it adds to the experience of me reading (or re-reading)the book.

  26. Congrats to Ingrid on her new book, and I wish I was near Boston to be able to see both Ingrid and Hank. I don't think I've even been to a book event where more than one author appeared.

    I enjoy going to book events. At times, I really wish I lived closer to Houston because I would attend so many Murder By the Book events.

    I don't mind if the author does a reading, but it seems like most authors prefer to do Q and A instead which I really enjoy.

    I'm looking forward to Deb's new book event here in Dallas on February 7th!

  27. Readings: I don't do them - I always tell the audience pick the book up and leaf through it yourself. But if you like to read, keep it SHORT: I was at a book festival and saw Hallie read the beginning of NEVER TELL A LIE. Just a few paragraphs, but it was absolutely compelling.

    My hotel secret: my comfy eyemask! Inevitably, the curtains don't shut and you're facing the well-lit parking lot, or the smoke detector blinks on and off, or you can't turn the bathroom nightlight off. I carry my own blackout shades with me, and sleep just fine.

    And I'll have to try Rhys' trick as well - I've had several instances where I've tried to get into the previous night's hotel room!

  28. Some airports have hotel rooms you can rent by the hour (I am looking at you, Dallas) which is perfect when you need a nap or to take off your shoes and write for a while. (Never mind sex. On tour, a nap is more precious than anything!) Ask at the info desk.

    A friend of mine went to her signing in the company of a bunch of friends only to discover the store was closed. And she had called to confirm! They simply forgot. So I always confirm twice. And if traveling by car (three weeks on the road in the Midwest----thank you, BMW!) I keep cartons of books in the trunk in case of store blunders. Oh----And I mail my laundry home and buy new undies along the way. Have I ever told the story of airport security asking me to open my suitcase full of two weeks of underpants? Never mind.

    Also, peanut butter and crackers.

  29. Perfect, Nancy! Yes, locally, I always have books in the trunk. ALWAYS.

    And the underpants story has to be a whole blog. I'll be in touch...

    Peanut butter? Great. And ALMONDS. PLus..take the water from Jet Blue. Drink it in the hotel instead of buying it. TAke an extra pack of cookies for dessert. LOVE Jet Blue!

  30. I am in danger of suffering from whiplash. The west coast, the east coast, the west coast, the east coast. Author events that I would love to attend, but not being close enough to events on either coast. As the song goes, "I'm stuck in the middle." I know that the event with Hank and Ingrid will be amazing. How could it not with the two of them and it being Friday the 13th. I happen to love Friday the 13ths. Ingrid, have a great night tomorrow night with Hank!

    I am in awe of the work authors do in addition to the hard work of writing their books. I was looking at a Where's Waldo book yesterday, and it puts me in mind of a book that should be published, Where's Hank. Actually that could apply to so many authors. One of the aspects of the Jungle Reds I admire the most is your support of one another in thought and deed, so often attending each others' book events or having a combined one. And, then the generosity of time that you all show your readers is, of course, dear to my heart. Where do you all get all that time?

    I hadn't thought much about authors discussing their currently published books, but being smack dab in the middle of working on the next one. That must be a fine line to walk, trying to avoid spoilers. I will definitely appreciate pauses when I ask a question next time.

    Ingrid, I so happy to have someone in agreement about the lack of calories in airport candy or snacks. Hank (and Rhys), good idea about taking a picture of your room number. I have a recurring dream that I can't find my room because I've forgotten the number, and sometimes the floor. I like the author to read a small bit from the book, as it gives me an insight as to the author's take on it, her voice. However, I most enjoy the interaction with authors. Oh, and I think five minutes reading aloud is certainly long enough, perhaps a bit too long at a time. I would prefer shorter clips, maybe several at a minute or two.

    I do love going to book events when I can catch one close. One that should be particularly interesting to this group is only an hour away from me on April 23rd. Ann Patchett will be at the Southern Kentucky Book Fest in Bowling Green, KY. I'll definitely be going to that one.

  31. Karen, what great stories! I'll bet you're a terrific travel companion.

    I have had big issues with remembering the plot of the book I'm promoting on tour when I'm in the middle of writing the next one! So confusing, and really hard not to give spoilers.

    I don't read at signings unless the venue absolutely insists. I can't read my characters the way I hear them in my head--and I can't do a British accent!! I think hearing me read in "Texas" must be very disappointing to the listeners. When it can't be avoided, I keep it short!

    Aisle seats!!! Always take water and a snack. NEVER EVER EVER pass up a chance to pee!

    And room service, dinner and breakfast, on a book tour are pretty much worth murdering for.

    I do like to go to other authors' events. Unfortunately, since Dallas hasn't had an independent mystery store for years, I don't get much opportunity. But Terry Shames will be here signing at The Wild Detective (a new indie, although not specifically mystery) on January 26th and I am so looking forward to it!

    Ingrid and Jenn, I wish I could come to one of your events...:-(

  32. And I'm back on solid ground!

    Jenn - Thanks so much for coming to last night's event, and thanks so much for your kind words about it! Jenn and I actually met a couple of years ago at a dinner at Bouchercon, but didn't have the chance to talk, so I felt like we were meeting for the first time.

    One of the lovely things about this tour is all the joint events I'm doing. Nick Petrie (the fantastic author of "The Drifter" and the newly released "Burning Bright" did last night's event with me and Brad Taylor, which was great. Today, Nick and I traveled to Houston, and we'll be at Murder By The Book tonight (with another terrific author, Thomas Perry.) Luckily, Nick and I have become instant BFFs and travel companions. During last night's event, Barbara Peters made a joke about us dating, and when the event was over and I checked my phone, I had a text from my hubby: "Not sure about that dating thing...:)" Turns out he'd been watching the livestream video of the whole thing!

    And tomorrow night is with Hank, which is always fabulous, and I'm back on my home turf so there will be friends and family in attendance. If only I didn't have that 4:45 a.m. pickup I'd be totally thrilled!

  33. Living in Quebec,I go to Louise Penny's prelaunch every year since many years.
    And occasionnaly I visit what we call: Salons du Livre (kind of book fairs where we can meet with autors).
    They are not part of tours but they are a good way to present recent publication.
    Would like being able to see Ingrid and Hank tomorrow.
    For meeting all of you JRW ladies, I'll travel to Bouchercon 2017.

  34. Hats off to all of the authors who spend so much time on the road. We readers appreciate it.

    I read somewhere (maybe it was fake news) that the Queen never passes up an opportunity to visit "the necessary" and those are words I live by.

    My best hotel tip is to carry a clothes pin in my luggage for those drapes that won't close tight. And I hate bugs!!!

    I love author events but not many happen in Maine. I've been to a couple events with Julia and laughed out loud to Louise Penny where I was honored to meet her husband Michael. And while I'm name dropping, I went to an event with Deb Harkness. There are times I miss living outside of Boston.

  35. Clothespin! Brilliant. And so useful for so many things..Holding, for instance, the towel you have to drape around yourself because the room is too cold!


    See you soon, INgrid! Safe travels..

    And I wish you all could be there, too!

  36. I have a question for all of the authors here...

    When you go on book tours, do you have to do your own driving OR does the bookstore send a representative to pick you up at the airport or the train station IF you are coming from out of town?

    Yes, I love book signings because it gives me a chance to meet authors. I used to live near a indie bookstore. That's how I met Rhys when she came to a panel with Penny Warner and other authors. A few years after I met Rhys, I got cochlear implants.

    Since my cochlear implants, I enjoy listening to the author read from the book because it gives me a chance to practice my auditory skills. And I love the chance to buy books too. Sometimes a book is not available unless the author is appearing at the store.

    Someone mentioned that her books were not available when she was doing a book event? Not quite the same thing though it reminded me of my frustration at my first Malice. I really wanted to buy a children's book by the author who won an award for best children's book. To my surprise, only ONE book dealer was selling children's books, though I have to say that they were among other books that were classics like Nancy Drew. None of the book dealers at Malice had NEW children's books!