Bootstrapping a Book Tour (aka Can I Meet Your Grandma and Sleep on Your Couch?)

by Kim on February 13, 2017 · 15 comments

Many authors I respect and admire have organized their own DIY book tours. Chris Guillebeau, the author of The Art of Non-Conformity wrote about his DIY book tour here. Rita Golden Gelman told me that when she launched her memoir Tales of a Female Nomad, she bought a car and did an 8-month DIY book tour around the U.S., staying with Servas hosts along the way. “I totally attribute the books success to that trip,” she said. “And I met lots of interesting people too.”

Back when I was touring the USA for Backpacker Magazine and dreaming big book dreams I heard an interview with Kevin Fedarko who wrote The Emerald Mile about the fastest ride in history through the Grand Canyon. He told the story of how he moved into his truck and drove around the states stopping at any bookstore that would have him, speaking to audiences that were usually small and sometimes non-existent save for a sympathetic book store employee. Eventually, his book hit the NYT Bestsellers list because he was out there, rubber to the road, picking up one new reader at a time. I remember turning to Brian and saying, “When my book comes out, we’re gonna do that.”

My deep down truthiest truth is that I am dying to just jump in the car and road trip the hell out of this country. But my reality is that I now have to balance my freewheeling DIY book tour dreams with having a one-year-old at home. She is a great traveler and would happily come along for the ride, but Brian has a job and can’t come with us. I don’t want to drag my toddler around the country with me alone (that would be a whole lot of work) but I don’t want to leave her at home for months at a time either while I go driving around the country either.

My solution? I’m adopting a DIY book tour style similar to a game of tag. That is to say, I’ll run out into the world and then come home to touch base before running out into the world again.

This is where you come in. 


On the road with Backpacker Magazine meeting up with great people IRL (IRL= in real life. Yeah, we have an acronym for that these days)

I’d like to come to your town during my DIY book tour or, if I can’t swing that, Skype into your book club or sewing circle or whatever social gatherings you enjoy with people that enjoy books. Can we make that happen? It will be like having a town hall with your Senator except for instead of your Senator you’ll get me and I’ll actually show up!

Here’s how I imagine it will work.

Option 1: I’ll come speak at a bookstore in your town

There’s a catch, though. Unfortunately I can’t just show up at any old bookstore I want to show up at. When bookstores host author events it costs them money so they want to make sure that they will recoup the cost of hosting an author and, of course, make a few bucks too. They make money when people come to hear an author speak and buy the author’s book in the store. If I want to schedule bookstore appearances I need to prove that I can draw a bit of a crowd. When I tell a store manager, I want to do a reading at your bookstore in Topeka, Kansas. No, I don’t know anyone there. No, I’m not sure anyone will show up. Then their answer is also, predictably, no.


If you live in Topeka, Kansas and are willing to rally your book club/church group/soccer team/extended family out to my event then that allows me to tell the bookstore that, yes! I do know someone in town and yes! I do think I can draw a bit of a crowd… and that changes everything.

Option 2: I’ll come hang out at your book club, community event or meet-up

I’m not limited to bookstores. I can come speak to your book club/church group/soccer team/small business in your living room/local coffee shop/ library conference room/ yoga studio. I can go wherever you (and your 15-20 closest friends) are.

Basically, I’d love to bring my DIY book tour to your town and meet you and your people or Skype into a gathering with you and your people. If this sounds like something you’re interested in please email me ( and I will send you more details.

Also, yes, I will totally crash on your couch. Thanks for asking.

Mark your calendar, here are the stops I’ve got planned so far:

4/4/17- Cincinnati, OH (Joseph-Beth Bookstore, 7pm)

4/8/17- Columbus, OH (Ohioana Book Festival)

4/12/17- Vancouver, WA (Vintage Books, 6:30pm)

4/13/17- Portland, OR (Broadway Books, 7pm)

4/22/17- Bowling Green, KY (Southern Kentucky Book Fest)

4/25/17- Asheville, NC (Malaprop’s, 7pm)

5/11/17- Dubuque, IA (details forthcoming)

I’ll be updating the list as new stops are added here.

And one more thing…

I know you’ve heard this one before but… my book The Yellow Envelope is available for pre-order right now! My goal is to get 500 pre-orders before the book hits shelves on 4/4/17 and, well, I’m not there yet. Can you help me reach my goal?

There are a few ways to pre-order. First, we want to support independent bookstores so call your favorite local bookstore and ask them to pre-order the book for you. Easy! If that isn’t an option you can also pre-order the book on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Once you’ve pre-ordered the book you can fill out this form and my publisher will mail you a yellow luggage tag and a signed bookplate.

Thanks everyone! I hope to meet your Grandma and/or your guest bedroom soon.

Looking for ways to save money while traveling? Use Latest Travelodge promo code of 2017 and save big.