I love my author Book Tours. When a new book publishes – and after our Book Launch– I begin a scheduled series of signings around the Southeast area to bookstores, regional festivals, and other events. I primarily travel to attend venues I can get to and back in a day’s travel—but I often wish I had the time and opportunity to travel more widely around the U.S. because I so enjoy meeting my readers and fans.
At some events I speak before a signing, talking about a variety of topics depending on the venue, and other times J.L. and I just “Meet-and-Greet” the public. Most bookstores put my signing table near the front entrance of the store so I am highly visible, can greet customers coming in the store, and so my fans can easily find me. On a humorous note, despite large store signage about the event, customers often assume I work at the store. They’ll ask me things like: “Can you tell me how to find the ACT study guides?” or “Do you know where the children’s book section is?” … Sometimes when I greet people and say, “Can I tell you about my books?” they look absolutely stunned. “You’re the author? … You wrote those books?” they ask, overlooking the big photo of me on the nearby sign. I guess they simply assume my area is a store display manned by a store employee.
When I go to any signing event, I take a Smoky Mountain map with me. So often people have no idea where towns and places in the Smoky Mountains are. At the best they may know of Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Dollywood… but names like Bryson City, NC, Cosby or Wears Valley, TN, where some of my books are set are unknown to them. I take out my map and point the places out. I want to interest people in different areas around the Smokies, and I try to “take them there” in my books. Often after a new book releases—set in a new area around the Smoky Mountains—my readers will plan a Road Trip to go there to visit, eager to see some of the sights and scenes I’ve written about. They’re eager to visit the places where my story was set—and I love that. One reader told me: “You’re a great ambassador to the Smoky Mountains” and I consider that a high compliment.
In bookstore visits on tour I go to big two-storied bookstores like Barnes & Noble in Asheville, NC, and Joseph Beth Bookstore in Lexington, KY, to mid-sized stores of all types and sizes, and to small independent bookstores like Union Avenue Books in my hometown of Knoxville, TN, and Parnassus Books in Nashville, TN. Independent bookstores have a unique flavor and character not found in the big chain stores. For example City Lights in Sylva, NC, has a resident cat and Moon Pie and Book Warehouse in Pigeon Forge, TN, has a charming side shop selling many flavors of Moon Pies.
Some of J.L.’s and my favorite signing venues are at Regional Festivals. These are always so much fun. Not only do we get to meet fans and readers from many states around the U.S.—we also get to enjoy the music, dancing, entertainments, artisans, crafters, old-time demonstrators, storytellers, food, and fun. Festivals we enjoy include the Townsend Festival in the Smokies, the Mountaineer Festival in Clayton, GA, Homecoming at the Appalachian Museum near Norris, TN, the Tomato Festival in Rutledge, TN, and the Mountain Makins Festival in Morristown, TN, to name a few.
I also attend Literary Festivals and Book Fairs like the Rose Glen Literary Festival in Sevierville, TN, and the Frankfort Book Fair in Kentucky. As invited, I speak for many groups, too—civic and educational organizations, clubs, libraries, book clubs, Newcomers and Welcome Wagon groups, Garden Clubs, Rotaries, historical societies like the Daughters of the American Revolution, Senior Groups, church groups and more. If you are in an organization that would like to have me speak, feel free to contact me via my author email at: drlinstepp.com to talk to me about coming to your group.
The best part of Book Tour is meeting my fans—seeing long time fans again and meeting new fans for the first time, many whom I’ve “met” via email or as “pen-pals” on my Facebook pages but not in person. On Tour I also connect with new readers who haven’t discovered my books yet. At a recent signing an interested reader was looking over my books, trying to decide which to buy. One of my old fans at the signing said: “Oh, it doesn’t matter which one you get, because once you read one, you’ll want them all.” … Book Signings are full of fun memories. And there is nothing more joyous than seeing a long-time fan heading toward me waving and smiling, so glad to see me again … and eager to pick up my latest title.
At all my signings and events, readers tell me what they love most about my books—which not only encourages me but helps me see the aspects of my books readers like the best. An authors’ books are their “products” – and it is wonderful to get that personal customer feedback….Perhaps someday I will get to meet you at one of my Book Tour events if you live in the Southeast or travel to this area on vacation. My events are always posted on the Appearances page of my author’s website, so check there often to see if I’ll be visiting somewhere near you this year.