The Author & Her Dog Book Tour: A Teleseminar

Frankie, the star of my dog book but not of the Author & Her Dog Book Tour

A few years and several lifetimes ago, I put together a book tour that involved my dog, Madeleine. I’m going to talk about the logistics of its creation in a teleseminar on “How to Host Your Own Book Tour” for the Nonfiction Authors Association on Wednesday, April 1, 10am PT, 1pm ET.

You’re talking about putting together a book tour now, you ask? Think of it as a leap of faith, an optimistic look ahead to a time when all the bookstores will be open again and people will gather there in large groups (okay, that’s actually every author’s and bookseller’s leap of faith even in the best of times).

But first I’d like to clear up some confusion about how I came to create a book tour with a dog to promote a book that was not primarily about dogs — and along the way talk about creativity and working with your strengths, no matter how off topic and how offbeat.

The Dog Who Got His Own Book, But Not His Own Book Tour

It would have been logical to assume that Madeleine would be accompanying me on a tour to promote my earlier book, Am I Boring My Dog: And 99 Other Things Every Dog Wishes You Knew — which, as you might have surmised, was about dogs.

Detail from the cover of Am I Boring My Dog, because you might miss the cleverness of the book titles otherwise

But that book was no longer in print by the time Madeleine arrived on the scene — though it’s still available on Kindle — and it had as its impetus and centerpiece my previous dog, Frankie.

So why didn’t I, or my publisher, create a book tour with him, you may ask?

A canine expert in social distancing

Frankie wasn’t a touring dog, to put it mildly.  He hated travel of all kinds and was wary of most creatures, except for me. Most problematic, Frankie developed diabetes. When he was stressed, he wouldn’t eat, and travel and people stressed him. Since insulin can’t be taken on an empty stomach, it was tough to give Frankie his medication on the road.

In fact, it was my inability to travel with Frankie or comfortably leave him with a pet sitter that led me to write a book about dogs instead of a book about travel — which is primarily what I had been writing before I adopted Frankie.

But I’ll get to that. 

I did use Frankie in a series of videos to promote the book that he inspired, however, because he was adorable and green screens are a wonderful thing.  The videos even had a travel theme.

Here’s the final compilation:

The Tour with a Dog For a Book That Isn’t About Dogs

I created a blog called Will My Dog Hate Me to promote Am I Boring My Dog — don’t even get me started on the crazed illogic of giving my dog blog and my dog book different names — and, as a result, got very involved with the dog-blogging community. By the time I had to say good-bye to my sweet Frankie — it wrenches my heart just to type those words — I was doing a lot less travel writing, a lot more writing about dogs and food and genealogy.

And with my full-time travel writing career more-or-less in the rear view mirror, I decided to finish my long-neglected memoir about how I got there: Getting Naked For Money: An Accidental Travel Writer Reveals All. 

I’ve written a lot on this blog about the process of self publishing the memoir, a process funded through a Kickstarter campaign. That Kickstarter, in turn, was a great promotional tool: Not only did my supporters in effect buy advance copies of the book, but the campaign forced me to ratchet up my social media and marketing game. 

And after the initial buzz wore off, I decided to do a book tour — the one I’m going to be discussing in the aforementioned teleseminar.

By then, I had adopted Madeleine. Like Frankie, she is adorable. Unlike Frankie, she is extremely outgoing and likes to travel. She was a natural to take along on a book tour as my companion.

The Tucson Festival of Books did not happen this year but Madeleine approved of the reading I was preparing for my scheduled conversation with the author, Clive Wynne.

And then I happened on a cartoon that pictured an author sitting forlornly at a table with a stack of books in front of him, but no one lined up to see him. Next to him sat a large dog that was getting all the attention from the crowd.

And so the Author and Her Dog Book Tour, replete with illustrations announcing each stop along the way, was born.

A Few Takeaways

Don’t get trapped in a box…

Ignore the common wisdom that says you need to create a niche and stick to it religiously in order to build up an audience. That may be true if you’re a fiction writer working on a series and developing characters. If you write nonfiction, you have a lot more freedom. Think of Mary Roach, a science writer who is excellent at covering everything from death to sex and space travel.

An inquiring mind — and good writing — are the key requirements.

… but do what you do best

Everyone has their writing strengths — for example, an ability to process information quickly or an ease in translating thoughts into words. I have to work hard to make my writing look fluid and easy, but my particular strengths are humor and honesty. That’s why people who read my dog blog and book were willing to take a chance on my memoir and contributed generously to my Kickstarter campaign (along with my childhood friends, grad school peeps, travel writing colleagues, and assorted folks I had dirt on).

This is Baxter, whose person Jenn Teufel-Schoenberger knows me primarily as a food writer. Baxter has excellent taste — literally — in reading matter. Jenn liked the book too.

Don’t forget the teleseminar!

So tune into the teleseminar. It’ll be funny and informative and dogs will be involved. That’s “How to Host Your Own Book Tour” for the Nonfiction Authors Association on Wednesday, April 1, 10am PT, 1pm ET.

And here’s a bit of a teaser from Publisher’s Weekly: Creating a Successful Book Tour: Five Tips From an Indie Author.

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About the Author

Edie Jarolim is a writer and editor living in Tucson, Arizona. Sign up on this blog to get updates about her humorous tell-all/memoir, GETTING NAKED FOR MONEY: An Accidental Travel Writer Reveals All.

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