by Marcus Sakey
My second book, AT THE CITY'S EDGE, came out about three weeks ago, which means that I'm in the midst of one of the stranger parts of a novelist's existence--the author tour.
I say "strange" not because I don't enjoy it. I very much do. I love getting a chance to meet readers and booksellers and the occasional fan. And I'm one of those odd people who gets a charge out of public speaking, so that part is great fun to me.
However, the travel itself can wear on you. In the last ten days I have signed in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle, spoken in front of 250 people in Hoover, Alabama, dropped into two dozen bookstores, and hosted a couple of Chicago events. I'm home right now to wash my underwear and kiss my wife, and then I'm off to South Carolina. Then it's Denver. Then the U.K.
Understand, I'm not complaining. I feel lucky to be able to do this. While I don't sell enough books to cover even a noticable fraction of my costs, I understand that this is a continuing process that is in large part about supporting booksellers that support me. And as this is my second book, some of the people who come out to see me have nice things to say about the first. All of which is lovely.
However, I am curious about something, and I'd like your thoughts. As readers, how much does it matter to you that an author tours?
I've been to see many authors speak. I'm not a collector--the first thing I do with a book is crack the spine so it will lay flat, allowing me to eat while I read--so it's not about autographs for me. I just like to hear what people have to say.
But while I enjoy that, I can't say it motivates me one way or another. For one thing, I rarely go see an author whose work I don't know. Unless they are a startlingly good or startlingly bad speaker, seeing them is unlikely to have any impact on whether I buy subsequent books. Which brings me back to the question--does touring matter to readers?
Does it matter to you?