Thursday, 14 April 2011

If it's Tuesday, it must be....

Northampton, or that is where I was last week. I was on a Book Tour, organised by my publisher, Bloomsbury, to promote The Fool's Girl, which came out in paperback... last Tuesday. I was travelling up and down the country all week, from Coventry to London via Kettering and Northampton and then back up to Wolverhampton. Hard work, but worth it - you get to meet readers, sell books, spread the word. For children's authors, appearances are mostly in schools these days, or theatre spaces, with children brought in from schools around to hear you speak. The schools involved do not have to pay, they are effectively receiving a free school visit, although the understanding is, stated or otherwise, that the students will have money to buy books. Authors might also be asked to take part in evening or twilight events, in a bookstore or local library, so it can make for a long day but worth it, as I say, or at least that is what we are told. If we are asked to do a tour, we do not refuse. We are contractually obliged to support the publication of a book in any way we can but not everyone is offered the chance of a tour, publishing is going though hard times and budgets are tight. Not everyone feels happy and confident standing up in front of hundreds of children and/or teenagers. Just because you write for them, doesn't mean you automatically have the ability to entertain them en masse. The very idea fills some authors with the kind of dread experienced by stand ups booked to play the Glasgow Empire.

Never fear, there is now a different kind of tour. A Blog Tour. Writers can get out and about, travel the world, without ever leaving their desks. It is all done in cyberspace. Writers go from blog to blog answering questions, being interviewed, writing a guest blog. It is busy out there and getting busier. Gillian Philip is visiting the Bookwitch right now. Kath Langrish was with her not so long ago and expect Mary Hoffman some time soon.

There is nothing like connecting with readers personally, but if this not going to happen for whatever reason, then the Blog Tour is an excellent alternative. The great thing about the Blog Tour is that writers can organise them for themselves, no longer completely dependant on the vagaries of publicity and marketing departments. Just as important, it is a way of making connections, growing awareness, building interest, not just in us and our books but in the bloggers and the sites that they work so hard to keep current and fresh.

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