This past week someone sent me a copy of a Craig Johnson essay about his book touring history. He started twenty years ago and has always done big tours. And Craig, like yours truly, enjoys meeting and interacting with his readers.
I started forty years ago in the world of original paperbacks where there we no tours. So we made one up. Before my publishers ever paid for a book tour I had already done nine at my own expense—doing events at Walden Books, B. Daltons, Little Professors, and anywhere else that would let me in the door. While Bill was off selling microwave semi-conductors to customers up and down the West Coast, I’d ride shotgun, and we would spend his fee evenings marketing books.
Much of that consisted of doing drive-by signings which means, I’d go into a store and do a signing of whatever ones of my books they happened to have in stock, aka stock signings. Some later time, people who had bought stock-signing books would show up at a regular signing wanting to have them personalized. At that point I’d have to go looking for a pen with ink that matched that signature. By book number three, I wised up. That’s when I started signing all books in red in and I use only one kind of pen. That way I always have a pen with the right ink in my purse.
Many of those early signings were not well attended. Sometimes a few people turned up; sometimes no one did. At my first signing for Village Books in Bellingham on the evening the Iraq War started, five people came. I did the full meal deal as far as those five people were concerned. Whenever no one showed up, I talked to the booksellers on duty, engaging them and hopefully giving them enough information so they could hand-sell my books later when I wasn’t there.
Book touring came to a screeching halt during the pandemic for Craig Johnson and for J.A. Jance, too. For Blessing of the Lost Girls, due out September 19, touring is back in a big way. The schedule is posted on my website and my Facebook page.
Blessing of the Lost Girls, a Walker Family/Brady crossover, is my 66th book. I know there are some readers who have drawn the at the Walkers, saying they’re too scary or too dark. I don’t think that’s the case with Blessing. I believe that little touch of Joanna Brady and most especially her daughter, Jenny, help lighten the load.
The book I wrote just before this one was Collateral Damage. Most of my books take about six months to write. Collateral Damage took twelve. While I was battling with it, I thought maybe I had lost my mojo and that would be the last book I ever wrote. But then, when it was time to write Blessing, I wrote it in two months flat, beginning to end. That’s a record by the way. And writing it definitely gave me back my mojo.
The inspiration to write Blessing of the Lost Girls came from a Sioux warrior who told a friend of mine, “Tell J.A. Jance to write more Walker books. There aren’t enough Indian heroes.” When you read Blessing, you’ll find that the man who told me that IS now an Indian hero!
A couple of notes about the tour itself. For one thing, you’ll notice that events in the Seattle area are limited. By the time NY got around to doing the schedule, my favorite venue, Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park was already booked. Sorry about that, folks. But if you want a signed and personalized book, please come to the event in Redmond. And feel free to contact Brick and Mortar Books in Redmond, Washington.
The book goes on sale September 19, but I should be able to stop by Brick and Mortar Books to sign books before I leave town for the tour. You can either stop by the store to pick up your copy or have it shipped to you. Signed books will also be available from Mostly Books in Tucson and the Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale. And speaking of the Poisoned Pen. That one will stream on Facebook Live, at 7PM Pacific. Yes, it’s in Arizona, but Arizona does not believe in Daylight Savings time.
I’d like to address two of the tour events in particular. The first is sponsored by the Tucson Festival of Books on September 21st. Admission is free but tickets need to be obtained in advance. Register here. This event does have an attendance limit. We will open up a waiting list once it is full.
Tucson Jewish Community Center
3800 East River Road
Tucson, Arizona 85718
For the past thirteen years it has been my honor to participate in the TFOB’s annual March extravaganza on the University of Arizona campus. The event always runs like a well-oiled machine, due to the help of hundreds of volunteers who act as guides by taking authors to venues, provide crowd control, bus tables, empty trash boxes, handle sound boards, and work in various booths. The problem is those hardworking souls hardly ever get to attend any of the individual panels. I’m hoping some of them will be able to attend this one because I’d like to express my thanks to them directly.
The second really special for me event is Saturday, September 23rd in the San Xavier District Council Chambers on the Tohono O’odham Nation. San Xavier Mission plays an important role in Blessing of the Lost Girls, and I’m hoping some of my readers will come early enough to visit the mission itself and also to sample the popovers for sale in the mission’s parking lot. Be advised, the chili is mild, but the stains it leaves behind on your clothing are indelible! Whatever you do, DO NOT WEAR WHITE!
San Xavier District Council Chambers
2018 West San Xavier Road
Tucson, AZ 85746
I can’t tell you how excited I am to be going back on the road. I’ve missed having those person-to-person interactions with fans. Here’s to seeing you somewhere along the way.
And now, at risk of repeating something from last’s week’s blog: Happy Trails to You!
PS: Now is the time to order signed bookmarks, but there’s a good chance they won’t be sent out until AFTER the tour rather than BEFORE. Please send a business sized self-addressed stamped envelope to:
P.O. Box 766
Bellevue, WA 98009-0766