Sunday, November 16, 2008

Event Much? Introducing Jess Lourey!

Jess Lourey, for those of you not familiar with her work, is the author of the humorous soft-boiled cozy Murder by the Month series, must read books for anyone who appreciates good plotting, solid writing with laugh out loud humor, and engaging, likable and believable protagonists. I read August Moon on the plane back from Left Coast Crime (where Jess and I first met, bonding like two kids at summer camp) and no doubt disturbed my neighbors with my bursts of laughter and unashamed snorting at some of the lines. I sounded like a very happy warthog.

This past May, Jess and I went on a pacifistic Thelma and Louise type Northwest Coast tour in May from San Francisco up to Seattle and had a blast together. They say you don't really know someone until you travel with them; if this is the case, Jess and I should probably just get married because there wasn't one moment of friction between us during what was a very grueling schedule, with long hours spent in the car driving from bookstore to bookstore. When she left to go back home to Minnesota, I was as bereft as anyone who'd made a new bestest friend as a kid, only to have them move away.

Thank goodness for email!

So without further ado, presenting Jess Lourey!

When May Day , the first book in my humorous Murder-by-Month series, was released in March of 2006, I was a signing whore. I hunted down book clubs and asked to be their guest speaker. I set up signings at every bookstore, library, and lemonade stand within 500 miles. I tapped my bank account flying myself to conferences all over the U.S. for the chance to be on the Sunday 12:30 panel, where they stick all new authors. And it was heady. And exhausting. And expensive.

Along came June Bug and I expanded my signings to hit the states around me. Same with Knee High by the Fourth of July, plus I promised myself I’d attend any event that I was asked to because I was so grateful to be asked. For August Moon I even flew myself to the west coast for a book tour with the brilliant Dana Fredsti
from San Francisco to Seattle. It was wonderful. And exhausting. And expensive.

September Mourn
comes out fall 2009, and I can’t do it all again, not the same way. First, the cost of gas makes that amount of driving prohibitive. Second, I’m not sure that all these sparsely-attended events are building my readership in any significant way. And third, and most importantly, signings and other speaking engagements take time away from my writing and my two young children.

So I need your advice. How do I set up my tour schedule for September Mourn? Do I jump at any offer given to me, from the hospital reading group two hours away to the English teacher’s conference on the other side of the state? Do I only take engagements within a certain driving distance, or if I’m reimbursed, or that are set up to coincide with other events so there will be a sure crowd? And for all you readers out there, how much does it mean to you to meet authors (we’re sort of a boring bunch overall)? Have you ever gone to a signing by an author you didn’t already enjoy, or pick up a book that you otherwise wouldn’t have because the author was sitting at a table in front of the store?

I appreciate any and all advice!


Marilyn said...

I totally understand your dilemma. Personally, I'd stick to the closer events. Spend more time on Internet promotion. Do an online tour.

I do all the above and I've been concentration on book fairs and craft festivals to actually sell books and I'm picking and choosing my conferences and conventions.

The Public Safety Writers Association conference is small and you don't get lost in the shuffle. Check it out:

It's in June in Vegas and the hotel has a lot for kids to do if you want to make it a family vacation that you can write off.


Jess Lourey said...

Thank you for that excellent advice, Marilyn! It does seem like we can never do enough to promote as writers, but we have to find a balance between family, social life (I've heard some people have those), promoting, and actually writing, and in the midst of all of that not forget to be grateful our books are published.

Jess Lourey said...

Dana, thanks for the excellent intro! Isn't it nice to know that we can still have that "make a bestest friend at summer camp" feeling even when we're in our, um, twenties? All the fun isn't just for kids.

I miss you! And thanks for the invite to this great blog.

Jean Henry Mead said...

I agree with Marilyn. The internet is the greatest promo tool since the computer was invented. You can reach readers all over the world and do it in your pajamas. I've heard from readers as far away as Australia and Greece, so I know the word's getting out there.

Jess Lourey said...

Jean, the Internet is a great promotional tool, but personally, I struggle with how to separate myself from the thousands of other writers who also use the Internet to promote. Are there any tips you can share?

Dana Fredsti said...

Yes, our...twenties. Yes! :-)

Dana Fredsti said...

Oh, and whatever promotion you do, you have to do a tour out here 'cause Taz says you can sleep in HER room! :-)

Morgan Mandel said...

It does seem craft fairs, book clubs and a few choice conferences are the way to to these days, with heavy internet marketing added.

Book signings are great for getting your brand out to the readers. Also, they're good for building a rapport with store managers and booksellers who will push your book. Still, I don't know how many authors can afford timewise or moneywise to travel great distances to attend book signings. The virtual book tours seem to be the way to go these days, but the trick is to get to the readers and not only the authors.

Morgan Mandel

Jess Lourey said...

Exactly, Morgan. I contribute to a group blog (, and although our numbers indicate we get a lot of traffic, it is usually only authors who comment, and have a feeling only authors who are reading it. I wonder how much time we as authors spend preaching to the choir (or selling to someone who is selling to us) in our Internet promotion?