Join us as we present a replay of a past event: Edie Jarolim speaks on the topic: How to Host Your Own Book Tour.
September 28, 2022 | 10:00 am PT / 1:00 pm ET
“I guess this is the moral of the story that people should take away–bring in whatever you’ve got. Just, you know, think about other people’s interests, your interests, and just be creative about this.”
Edie Jarolim was a guidebook editor at Random House and Simon & Schuster in New York and Rough Guides in London before moving to Tucson, Arizona, and becoming a freelance writer. She is the author of four travel guides, including Arizona for Dummies and Frommer’s Easy Guide to San Antonio and Austin, as well as one dog guide, Am I Boring My Dog: And 99 Other Things Your Dog Wishes You Knew. Her articles have appeared in National Geographic Traveler, The Wall Street Journal, Travel + Leisure, and USAToday.com, among other national outlets. Publisher’s Weekly said of her recent memoir, Getting Naked for Money: An Accidental Travel Writer Reveals All, “Jarolim’s wicked sense of humor coupled with her insider’s perspective add a fresh spin to this travel memoir.” Learn more at ediejarolim.com.
Nonfiction Authors Podcast: Edie Jarolim
Find the video podcast, show notes, links, quotes, and podcast transcript below.
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- Am I Boring My Dog and 99 Other Things Your Dog Wishes You Knew
- Getting Naked for Money
- Frommer’s San Antonio and Austin
- Arizona for Dummies
In this episode…
- How to map out a book tour on your own expense.
- When to start pitching your tour to bookstores.
- How to write a book tour pitch.
- How to manage book sales during your book tour.
- How to make your book tour stand out.
- How to promote your book tour.
- How to go about hosting a virtual book tour.
- The benefit of being an author of multiple genres, and how it can expand your book tour horizons.
Hello and welcome to the interview series for the Nonfiction Authors Association. Today’s session is with Edie Jarolim and we will be talking about how to host your own book tour. I’m Carla King, your host, and I’m happy to have you with us today. This interview will last only 30 minutes and you can find the replay on our Nonfiction Authors Association website and social media platforms including YouTube, and wherever you listen to podcasts.
This week enjoy a Top Replay from the archives.
Hey, Edie, thank you so much for joining us today.
Edie Jarolim 2:44
Oh, thanks so much for having me.
Stephanie Chandler 2:46
Well, since we scheduled this webinar, or this interview, the world has changed quite a bit. So we are going to talk about virtual book tours shortly. But I wanted to start by talking about how you conducted your own successful book tour. Because the reality is that eventually the world is going to resume business as usual. And this is probably a good time for authors to be planning and thinking about their future book tours. So how about starting by telling us about your own successful book tour?
Edie Jarolim 3:20
Well, everything is always a leap of faith, I say. So, when it comes to bookstores and authors and a lot of work. So this is a good time to plan a tour and hope that things will change sooner or later. Hopefully sooner rather than later. But as you said, it’s all about planning. So a lot of us have a lot more time at home than we did. And a lot of time online. And since you’re going to be financing this tour yourself–and that has very little to do with the fact that it’s an indie book, necessarily. Because very few publishers plan book tours anymore.
You’re going to have to figure out where it makes the most sense for you to go based on economics. And that includes not only transportation costs, but also the places that are likely to give you the best return on your dollar. And so since my tour was to promote a memoir about my life as a travel writer, and I live in Tucson, the longest leg that I planned was a road trip to Texas. And so I chose cities that were based on the travel book that I wrote and talked about in my memoir, including Arizona for Dummies and Frommer’s San Antonio and Austin.
So I mapped out a route that included Northern Arizona, Albuquerque, where I knew several people, and Las Cruces where I had a travel connection, and then San Antonio and Austin. So you also need to study a bookstores calendar, and see if any dates you might want are already taken. And if there are any major holidays you want to avoid. We’ll talk a little more about all these details. But all in all, it’s like an elaborate jigsaw puzzle. Sometimes you have to change dates, or hustle to the next bookstore, depending on what you’re able to secure. So a lot of planning, a lot of following up, and a lot of marketing.
Stephanie Chandler 5:20
A lot of marketing, yeah. How many stores did you end up hitting on your tour?
Edie Jarolim 5:25
Well, let’s see. I have to go back and count them. I want to say a total of eight. Let’s see–one in Arizona, two in New Mexico, two in Texas, and then I had a second tour where I went to Minneapolis, and St. Paul. And that’s two more, but I think that’s only seven.Yeah, but anyway, I paced it so I could–I took part of it with a friend to share some of the driving because, if you know the geography, there are long distances in Texas and New Mexico and Arizona. So I did part of that just designed as a road trip. And gave myself a little time to enjoy myself. So, you know, I don’t think people are going to make a lot of money on book tours. But I think for me, it just inspired an amount of confidence that I could do this. And, you know, also publicize my book. Because even if people didn’t show up to the book tour, they became aware that I was doing it and aware of my book.
Stephanie Chandler 6:39
Well, and that’s a really great point, Edie. Because, you may not get a huge turnout at the actual event itself. However, your tour has been promoted to that stores’ audience, right?
Edie Jarolim 6:54
Stephanie Chandler 6:56
So you never know what kind of sales that’s leading to. And I also noticed you’re a fan of indie bookstores, which I am as well, because I happen to be a former bookstore owner. So I love that you support indie stores. How did indies factor into your tour?
Edie Jarolim 7:16
Well, I think it’s important for a lot of reasons, including, of course, that you want to support your local bookstores. But indie bookstores are great at promoting their event. They have dedicated followings and email lists, and most of them are great at social media. And also, you can find out who the owner is, or the manager. And it’s far easier to–in that sense–to find out who’s doing the bookings, and get a personal correspondence with them going. If you’re going with the chains, there’s so many events, and there are so many levels of bureaucracy to go through. So, I think it’s better on all counts. I did have a very nice reading at the Barnes and Noble in Las Cruces, I should say. It’s at the University and it was kind of a local bookstore in a sense also. And so I wouldn’t eliminate that as a possibility. But for the most part, I found it was far easier and more desirable to go with the indie bookstores.
Stephanie Chandler 8:25
And you mentioned doing a reading. So is that part of your tour? You would show up at the stores and actually do a reading of your book?
Edie Jarolim 8:32
I did, yes. Yes, that was the main part–was the reading. And there was a question period. But mostly it was, I guess it was about 20 minutes, maybe a little bit longer.
Stephanie Chandler 8:47
And did you find while you were reading that other browsers in the store were wandering over to see what was going on?
Edie Jarolim 8:54
You know, most of the stores were pretty small. So it was the focus anyway of the event and they had chairs set up. But I do think a couple of people wandered over. But in my experience, people were shy. Sometimes they lurked in the back, but it was kind of like, ‘I don’t know what’s happening here. Am I supposed to come in?’ So I didn’t find that as much as I would have expected, or possibly hoped for.
Stephanie Chandler 9:27
That’s interesting. So how far in advance should authors be contacting bookstores about pitching a tour?
Edie Jarolim 9:38
I’d say at least three months. I started in mid-February, late February for an event that was mid-June. And February is pretty quiet time. So it was a good time for me to start the planning. Because I wanted–especially because I wanted to do it at a time that was going to book up fast in the summer. So I wanted to make sure that the calendars were not booked up for the events.
Stephanie Chandler 10:17
And then–so what actually goes into the pitch when you’re reaching out to these stores?
Edie Jarolim 10:23
Well, I included an up to date press release, a picture of my book cover, and since I assumed that my press release might not be opened, I included a few blurbs and a link to Amazon where I have many five star reviews. And then I personalized it to the event. I focused on the dates that I was requesting. In my case, I emphasize that since it was a humorous memoir about travel, my book was a great summer vacation read, and so it’d be perfect for a summer event. And then I leveraged ties to individual stores and cities.
For example, because I was the author of Frommer’s San Antonio and Austin, I promised potential hosts in both cities that I’d be offering their audience behind the scenes information about writing that guide book. So basically, to break it down, a general pitch for your book, plus a tie into the city that you’re visiting, and to the time you want to visit, whether that’s a season or an event. And you might also research the bookstore and see if they had a successful event that you might tie your own events into, your own book into.
Stephanie Chandler 11:43
And I’m also thinking that maybe if you’ve got an audience there, or connections there, that you could also mention that you’ll be promoting it to your audience as well. Is that helpful?
Edie Jarolim 11:54
Absolutely, absolutely. Thanks for mentioning that. I did talk to people that I knew well. Because I had done such extensive work in San Antonio and Austin, I knew a lot of people in the city, and worked with a lot of people, so I could promise them an audience of people that I’d worked with and became friendly with over the years.
Stephanie Chandler 12:20
Excellent. And then how about book sales at these stores? Did the stores order copies in advance? Were you expected to bring copies? Was it a combination of the two?
Edie Jarolim 12:30
Combination of the two. Some of them expected me to send books along in advance. Some of them expected me to bring books with me. And some of them–well only one, and that was the Barnes and Noble, actually–ordered books for me. And some of them kept books to sell on consignment. And some of them said, ‘buy.’ No, I mean, it wasn’t quite like that. But it was, I’m gonna say–and I am going to be honest here–that very few paid me directly. And it was sometimes hard wrangling the money for the sales from the book out of the booksellers. It took me a long time, and a lot of reminders in some cases.
Stephanie Chandler 13:24
Is that right?
Edie Jarolim 13:26
Yeah, I was surprised and frustrated. There were I think two that paid immediately with a check or cash, based on the sales at the bookstore. And others said, you know, they had to deal with the accounting. And I understood that, but it was harder than I would have anticipated to get a few of them to follow up with me.
Stephanie Chandler 13:54
Well, that’s a headache.
Edie Jarolim 13:56
I know. I wasn’t gonna say it. And then I thought, you know, other people might encounter that and they should know. And maybe talk to people in advance and ask them, ‘So how is this gonna go?’ Because you have a contract. And I did say most of them did take some books on consignment. So it’s fair to ask–if you sell books, when are you going to get paid? When can you expect it and possibly get that in writing, too.
Stephanie Chandler 14:26
And be prepared with an invoice, right? At the day of the signing, so that you can hand them the invoice, with probably, maybe a 30 day term or something. And then make note of following up on that. That’s a good tip. You also did a really creative tour around your dog, and you partnered with some rescue organizations. Tell us about that.
Edie Jarolim 14:52
Well, it was funny because I was planning sort of a conventional book tour. And you know, I do a lot of social media, and I have a very cute dog who features in a lot of social media. And my previous book–as you mentioned–was a book called, Am I Boring My Dog? And I had a lot of people who bought that book, and who followed my dog blog, which I created to promote that book. So I had a natural audience in the dog blogging and dog owning pet community. And I continued, even afterwards, to have strong ties with rescue organizations promoting rescue. And it just happened that at the same time, I saw this cartoon that had a picture of a man–an author–at the same table is a large dog with all these people lined up to see the dog.
Stephanie Chandler 16:04
I’ve seen that cartoon and it is hilarious.
Edie Jarolim 16:07
So I was inspired to do my own ‘The author and her dog’ book tour. And I did, I hired somebody. And that’s one thing that I have to say that I have noticed over and over again–find talented people to help you. Because I just found this guy who did a version of that cartoon with me and my dog sitting at the table. And for each of these stops, I had a sign. The cartoon was tailored to that particular event. And so you had the cartoon, you had me and the dog, and you had the time of the event in the bookstore, and the date. And so that was fun. And so it was a natural tie in to see if I could get rescue organizations on board. And I would donate a portion of the proceeds. And it didn’t work out in some cases, in many cases.
But I had a wonderful promotion with the San Antonio Humane Society. And because of that promotion, I got on morning television with my dog and talking about rescue, and talking about my book signings. And there was a pet friendly hotel in Austin that it worked out for, too. That they promoted on their social media, and I talked about the hotel, and I blogged about it. So it was fun. And of course, I had my dog with me and she was a great hit. Because more people–I won’t say more people came to see her. But a lot of people came to see her.
Stephanie Chandler 16:18
That’s such a cute idea. You can never go wrong with a dog.
Edie Jarolim 17:24
You can never go wrong with a dog. If your dog is friendly. If your dog is not friendly, you could go really wrong.
Stephanie Chandler 18:04
You could go really wrong. That’s true. And that leads in nicely to my next question about how to promote the tour. I mean, obviously getting local television news coverage is great. So did you pitch them yourself? Or was that something that happened because of the promotion? How did that end up happening?
Edie Jarolim 18:23
I pitched everything. I mean, it was really a do it yourself from beginning to end. And so I tried to get local newspapers interested on the basis of the book, on the basis of the promotion. It wasn’t the most successful thing I did, but I did get a local newspaper in Prescott, Arizona interested. And I got on websites more than I got on newspapers radar, so that was good. And you know, mostly I did my own social media on my blog. Well, I have three blogs, two of which are relevant, the one about dogs and my name blog, ediejerolim.comediejerolim.com. And I have Twitter, I have Facebook.
So, you know, it was pretty much a combination of all of those things. And just keeping it friendly and light so they didn’t feel like you were barraging them. And marketing is hard. It’s a fine line between being obnoxious and being fun, and just keeping yourself in other people’s imagination and radar. So I think we all have a problem with that, but that’s why having something creative and fun is the way to go that–the book is fun to begin with and then having various things around it that remind people that you’re doing fun stuff is going to help out.
Stephanie Chandler 20:04
Absolutely. And I think that’s a big lesson here–that, you know, it’s not all about how many people show up to the actual signing, but you’re reaching more people because you’ve created this event, and a reason to promote it and a reason for people to talk about it. So I think there’s value in that side of it that makes a lot of sense to me.
Edie Jarolim 20:24
Absolutely. So, I mean, now that we’re talking about it, even talking about book tours now is a good thing. Because here people can talk about their books and tour that they’re planning and, you know, it’s a great hook for the future. And a way to think about things that are not necessarily focused on the present, which a lot of us are having a lot of trouble focusing on.
Stephanie Chandler 20:53
Yeah, absolutely. Crazy time. So, Edie, you’ve got some experience with virtual book tours, too. Tell us about that.
Edie Jarolim 21:03
Well, you know, I honestly didn’t–well, I won’t say I didn’t do that much, because I created a Kickstarter, which had its own virtual presence. So it wasn’t a book tour, obviously. But it was a way to get people involved in my book in advance, and literally to make advance sales. And I did go on other people’s virtual book tours, however. And there were two ways to do that.
One is to pick the subject matter that you are writing about and get other bloggers in that field–or other influencers, I guess, now is more relevant, it wasn’t at the time–but other influences in that field to promote your book. And conversely, there are also sites that are dedicated to promoting books of all genres. So that’s another way to do it. And some of those cost money. So I think it’s better to get people who are in your field, offer to send them books, and do a blogging tour. So in my field, it was dogs. I didn’t do that, because I created the blog to promote the dog books after the fact. But I was part of a lot of dog blogging tours after that, and people would all agree on one particular day to basically bombard the media with talking about your book on that particular day.
Stephanie Chandler 22:53
Wow. That’s great. And, you know, on the Kickstarter, I’ve got to ask–so Kickstarter is a crowdfunding platform. It’s a place where you can potentially raise money for your book campaign. But you have to give something away to people who fund your Kickstarter campaign. So were you just doing bulk copies of your book? Or were you getting creative and having some other items?
Edie Jarolim 23:19
Oh I did a lot of different things. Yeah, I mean, mostly, it was books. Signed copies of books, and mentioning people in the books and things like that. And they were different versions of the book on different levels. But I also offered to create a tour of different places that people lived in. I did bring in my other blog, which was genealogy at that time. For the Kickstarter I write about Vienna, because that’s where my family was from. So I offered virtual tours of Freud’s Viana. Well, I should backtrack for a second Freud’s Vienna because my great uncle was Sigmund Freud’s butcher in Vienna. So my other genealogy blog is Freud’s butcher. So I brought in everything. I mean, I guess this is the moral of the story that people should take away–bring in whatever you’ve got. Just, you know, think about other people’s interests, your interests, and just be creative about this. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. I mean, the hardest thing about the Kickstarter was being on every single day. But I did it. I woke up in the morning I said, ‘This is my job. I’m going to raise money for this book.’ And it happened. And when people said, ‘Oh, you can never raise money for books–that’s not what Kickstarter is for.’ I said, ‘You’ll see.’ I’m perverse. The more people who said, ‘I don’t think you could do that anymore.’ I said, ‘Oh, yeah.’
Stephanie Chandler 25:01
Good for you. I love that. And you’re also a great example of an author who’s got interest in multiple genres. You’ve got your dog blog, and your travel, and your genealogy. And I get this question a lot–’Can I blend my multiple interests together?’ And oftentimes, the answer is no, and they have to be kind of separate blogs are separate platforms. And it sounds like you’re finding opportunities when you can weave them together. But you also understand that they have to be separated, right?
Edie Jarolim 25:32
Yes, they are. I mean, I’m going to get people on my genealogy blog that I’m not going to get on my dog blog.And my ediejerolim.com blog is going to be the link between all of them, because I’ll tell people what I’m doing on all of them, and also talk more about writing in general and the Kickstarter.
But I don’t think you have to put yourself in a box either. You don’t have to say–and I think this is where the nonfiction writer has an advantage. You don’t have to say, ‘I’m going to only write certain characters, and have a certain setting,’ like many fiction writers end up doing. And that’s great. I love series novels and series mysteries. But nonfiction writers can branch out more and say, ‘Okay, I did this subject. Maybe I can do something else that interests me.’ So I think the curiosity is prime, an inquiring mind, and good writing, of course. That’s universal.
Stephanie Chandler 26:45
Absolutely. And I think a large percentage of us, myself included, have multiple genres of interest. So thank you for setting such a good example in the fact that it can all be done. It’s really great, Edie.
Edie Jarolim 27:00
Well, you know, at first, it was something that I beat myself up over, as so many of us do. And say, ‘I should be.’ And then I heard a quote, and I think it was by Elizabeth Gilbert, who said, ‘You know, you don’t have to have a passion, you have to have curiosity.’ And I thought, ‘Yes, that’s great.’ You don’t have to tie yourself to one thing. You can love, and be interested in, many things. And that’s better. Why limit yourself to one passion? What if it doesn’t work out? And then you, you feel stuck in that particular mode. So I thought it was great to be able to say, ‘Yes, don’t put yourself in a box like that.’ Just branch out and see what interests you at a particular time and take it where it goes.
Stephanie Chandler 27:55
I love that. This has been so helpful. And with everything we just discussed, what would be your top tips you want our listeners to take away today?
Edie Jarolim 28:06
Well, I would say that–plan, plan, plan. It’s an important thing to do. Just keep on top of it. Make sure that you’ve got your dates set, and not confused. And just be prepared to adjust and be flexible. And just use all the resources that you’ve got. As they say, don’t put yourself into a box and say, ‘Well, I can’t do that because that’s not what my book is about.’ You can do that. And you might get a whole new audience who’s interested. And you might get some ideas for future things that you become interested in as a result. So yeah, work hard. Be creative. That’s what you know. I guess that’s the takeaway from pretty much everything, right?
Stephanie Chandler 29:02
Yeah, but it’s a powerful point. It does take work. Edie, this has been so helpful. Yeah, remind our listeners how they can connect with you, and any services you offer. Tell us your book titles again. You’ve got great book titles.
Edie Jarolim 29:16
Well, my, my dog book is Am I Boring my Dog: And 99 Other Things Every Dog Wishes You Knew. And my memoir is Getting Naked For Money: An Accidental Travel Writer Reveals All. And it’s based on the fact that I actually was assigned by More Magazine to go to a nudist resort. And those books are both on Amazon.
And I’m an editor too. And I’ve been telling people that this is a perfect time to write your memoir because it’s a great time for self reflection. And I’m just editing a memoir now, and I really love editing, too. Because I get to not have to agonize about the words I’m putting down on the page, and see what other people are doing. And all of that–you can contact me through ediejarolim.com. I think the link should be up on the page.
Stephanie Chandler 30:19
Yes, it is. Edie, thank you so much. What a great guest you’ve been. We really appreciate your time.
Edie Jarolim 30:25
Thank you so much for having me. It’s been great talking to you.
And thank you to our listeners for joining us today. We conduct these interviews every week with an archive episode once per month. For a list of guests and topics just check our schedule on the site, use your favorite search engine, or better yet, sign up for our mailing list at NonfictionAuthorsAssociation.com.
Quotes from our guest
“I don’t think people are going to make a lot of money on book tours. But I think for me, it just inspired an amount of confidence that I could do this. And, you know, also publicize my book. Because even if people didn’t show up to the book tour, they became aware that I was doing it and aware of my book.”
“I guess this is the moral of the story that people should take away–bring in whatever you’ve got. Just, you know, think about other people’s interests, your interests, and just be creative about this.”
“Well, you know, at first, [being an author of multiple genres] was something that I beat myself up over, as so many of us do. And say, ‘I should be.’ And then I heard a quote, and I think it was by Elizabeth Gilbert, who said, ‘You know, you don’t have to have a passion, you have to have curiosity.’ And I thought, ‘Yes, that’s great.’ You don’t have to tie yourself to one thing. You can love, and be interested in, many things. And that’s better. Why limit yourself to one passion? What if it doesn’t work out? And then you, you feel stuck in that particular mode.”
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