Bread on the waters

So, here’s a thing.

Yesterday, I saw on Twitter a person I don’t know, but who had been retweeted by someone I do know, as is the custom on Twitter, complaining, bitterly, that authors who are on book tour should take a moment to think of those authors who would KILL to go on a book tour, but aren’t/can’t/won’t ever, before they start complaining about the Challenges of the Road. They, the writers on tour, need to understand how privileged they are, and how much it hurts the feelings of those authors who would KILL &c to see authors of book tours complaining about their good luck.

It was, in short, a call for someone who was having a particular experience, and reacting to it, to shut up already because they were somehow hurting people who were having a different experience.

Now, here’s the thing. Steve and I have been on (very minor) book tours, friends and colleagues have been on (rather major) book tours, and we can all tell you that it is not all fairy coaches, feasts, and acclaim.  There are good moments; meeting readers, and booksellers is always a treat, though traveling is a mixed blessing, especially since you usually only get to see the inside of bookstores, hotel rooms, escort cars, trains and/or planes.  Also, you’re far away from home; it’s unlikely you’re going to get any work done; it’s often a challenge to get a good meal; you won’t sleep well; and (in the case of some of our colleagues and friends) the focus of book tour planners is to hit as many venues as possible; the notion that the author might subscribe to human frailty isn’t always reflected in the itinerary.

In short, there’s a lot of material to talk about in re a book tour, should one happen to be undertaking such a thing. Most authors have a reader base, with whom they communicate, by blog, by Twitter, or Facebook, or Whatever.  And so we continue to communicate, it being just about the only thing we can do while touring.

Now, it seems to me that most writers on a book tour are talking to their readers and fans, and aren’t thinking about any one else, at all.  Perhaps this is wrong in them, but I’d say it’s human nature, really.

I also. . .think — honestly do think — that the writer whose feelings were damaged isn’t really thinking this thing through.

The writer on tour is giving valuable information about book tours. Before our first tour, we contacted friends and colleagues who had gone before and asked them what to expect, how to cope, what was normal; what was unacceptable; &c.

By reading the feed, or the blog, or the wall of a writer on tour, other writers are getting that information, live, as it happens.  This would seem to be a benefit, not only for the readers and fans of the writer on tour, but also for the whole community of writers, most especially those who aspire, some day, to be on tour.

So, that.

Tomorrow!  I will open the Sekrit Grab Bag of Questions and post my first answer.

If you have a question to ask — go here and do so.

3 thoughts on “Bread on the waters”

  1. The whiner amazes me. I’ve never traveled well so were I going on a book tour I would find it extremely useful to be forewarned by those who are experienced. Way back when I had to travel for work I remember flying from LA to Chicago, working 10-12 hours and flying home. Exhausting but I got to sleep in my own bed and pet my cats.

  2. You have intrigued me with the word “unacceptable”. Do you have a quick example or two of what came to mind as “unacceptable” on tour? Sweet Spanish Aunts.

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