How to Set Up a Reading Tour

Book tours typically involve at least one write who travels a long distance to read their work to an audience. The tours can be regional, national or in one state. The tour can consist of one writer or a group of writers to help offset costs. Touring writers typically have a published book but it’s not uncommon for tours to occur with writers who have chapbooks or who have never been published before. Regardless, book tours offer an excellent way to market yourself and your own work. Nowadays it’s rare for a tour of this nature to be sponsored by a publisher. Most writers will have to plan, fund and market their own book tours. Writers will also need to schedule out a large period of time for the book tour, which makes it important to consider job duties, family and other responsibilities before committing to a book tour.

The following lists some excellent tips on how to setup a reading tour:

  1. Contact venues that host readings. This does not necessarily have to be a bookstore. Venues could include restaurants, cafes, universities, libraries, community centers, book clubs, museums or even someone’s home. Ideally you should schedule readings at least 6 months in advance to ensure that you get the venue you want. Remember to ask questions to the event coordinators about if they will require compensation from book sales, if they may want a lecture, how long you can read, book signings, Q&A, etc.
  2. Contact another writer to come on the reading tour. There are multiple benefits to teaming up with another writer. The costs will be offset when sharing costs for food, gas, accommodation and so on. You will attract a wider audience. Another writer may have connections that you do not yet have, which will allow for larger readings and more publicity of your work. Shared work is another great reason to team up with another writer. You will be able to balance responsibilities more easily with another writer. Keep in mind that you can also have a writer accompany you for part of the trip, so try not to stress too much about finding another writer who can work 100% with your schedule. What else can you offer attendees?
  3. Consider how many books you will need to bring. It would be a real shame to run out of books during a reading tour. It’s wonderful to sell out of books by the time the tour ends but certainly not halfway through. Make sure you order enough books to bring for the tour.
  4. What else can you offer attendees? I’ve seen one book reading tour where members created cheap chapbooks and included all their work in it. The chapbooks were not too costly to make and were given to audience members for free. This is another way to market yourself to audience members who may not be able to afford your work. Broadsides may also be a cheap way to earn some money and still market your work.
  5. Make sure to bring credit card readers. Not everyone will be carrying cash so make sure you have alternative ways to receive money from people planning to purchase your books.
  6. Ask for help. There will be many unexpected costs with your book reading tour. You will need to primarily fund the tour yourself but try to not be shy about asking to stay at the homes of friends and family. This will help you save costs on hotels. Friends and family may often cook you dinner which will help offset costs of eating out. Use your frequent miles, discounts, gift cards or whatever you have to minimize transportation costs. Consider creating a fundraiser to help offset costs for the reading.
  7. Once your venues are selected, prepare to promote yourself well in advance. Create events on social media networks, prepare flyers, do press releases and be prepared to thoroughly market yourself. You should not expect the venue to do the marketing for you.
  8. Confirm arrangements. This is important as the date gets closer. It’s not uncommon for schedules to change and things to come up. Make sure that everyone is on the same page since sometimes errors do occur.
  9. Prepare to say thank you. You will likely have a lot of assistance with your book tour. Be prepared to say thank you to the event coordinators, the readers who support you, family and friends who hosted you and other folks along the way.