On International Tours
So I recently arrived home after my very first international book tour, which took me to Paris, Frankfurt, and Berlin, and for the very first time, I had the chance to meet some of my international readers. I thought it might be fun to recap the events, give a bit of an inside view, and throw in a few things I learned here and there--so without further ado, here we go!
When my German publisher decided to send me to this year's Frankfurt Book Fair as well as a few Berlin book events, and then my French publisher (Bragelonne) added in a few Paris stops as well, I jumped for joy at the opportunity. I'd never been to France or Germany before, and I've never met any international Legend readers. The events definitely did not disappoint. They were action-packed and full of fun.
Paris was every bit as romantic and beautiful as I'd heard. My Bragelonne editor and publicist accompanied me around the city for some sightseeing, eating, and macaron-shopping, and in the evenings I got to have dinner with the whole team. For any other authors out there who have books with Bragelonne/Castelmore and have not met the team yet--they are a fantastic crew, and I really believe their closeknit nature means that they do an amazing job selling our books. Here, we had a reader/blogger wine event and a host of interviews with various French blogs/writing news outlets.
This was also where I had my first realization:
Realization #1: You might lose your voice. (This applies to any lone tour, I guess, not just an international one.) It's not like I haven't experienced life on the road before, with groups tours and summer conventions and whatnot, but the Frankfurt fair and my accompanying events made for the first time that I toured alone and therefore the first time I've ever lost my voice from talking too much. Every day for a straight week, I literally got out of my hotel room and started talking nonstop in interviews, panels, lunches, and dinners until late into the night. It's all incredibly fun, but were I to do it all again, I'd actually do some voice exercises a couple of weeks before the tour. As writers, we'll easily spend weeks uttering only a handful of sentences here and there. Our throats are not usually equipped to handle a sudden onslaught of talking. Definitely a lesson learned, and something I hope will help other authors who are getting ready to tour alone for the first time and haven't spoken much in...weeks...
After a couple of whirlwind days in Paris, I hopped on a train that took me from France to Frankfurt, Germany, the home of the Frankfurt Book Fair. Otherwise known as the So Incredibly Large You Need A Tram To Get Around Book Fair. Seriously. When you require a little bus to travel from one end of the fair to the other, that puts an event in a whole new category of huge. It was a little like attending the United Nations of Books, and to see that many people both in the industry and interested in books was incredibly exciting. This was definitely the peak of the required talking, as we started each day with interviews and ran nonstop until nighttime. Luckily my wonderful German publisher (Loewe Verlag) sustained me with copious amounts of tea, chocolates, food food food, and of course, fabulous company.
Realization #2: Pack a hardcover copy of your own book, in English! This was something I completely neglected to do, as I'd forgotten that there would be a good chance that I would be required to read several pages in English before my German translator started reading in German. We even had one reader specifically request me to read a section in English. Luckily I had my phone with me, and was able to download a copy of my e-book, but from now on I'll never leave home without my trusty hardcover. (Besides, reading from one's phone just doesn't look very....romantic. :) )
Realization #3: Pack lightly. Traveling by train is no fun with tons of luggage to drag around. Also, if you're not in the habit already, pack your own travel-sized shampoo/conditioner/etc. I usually rely on hotel shampoo/etc, but one of our hotels didn't have shampoo/conditioner (or maybe it was shampoo, labeled in a bottle that I did not recognize as shampoo?) and one of the hotels had fancy shampoo (it was a shampoo for your hair...AND your body! Technology!!). Plus, some make my hair frizz and some make my hair look decent. Bringing your own is a good idea.
After the Frankfurt fair, we headed off to Berlin for two days and did several readings in old theaters as well as town halls in the countryside. It was such a surreal experience to know that in a small town on the outskirts of Berlin, there were still a few kids who had read my book and made the trek out to see me. Connecting with readers is absolutely priceless. I think this may be the biggest realization of all--this was really the moment when I realized that my book had grown much larger than myself; that as authors, we all have the power to reach farther than we ever thought possible and that our words can touch people all over the world. It was a pretty cool feeling.
Now I'm back in the States, with a sniffy nose and a voice that still sounds like an old frog--but my first international tour was absolutely worth every moment of it! And now that I've learned a few extra tidbits, I'll know what to do next time too.