Countdown to Publication—Week Two


             Eighteen years ago, six weeks after giving birth to my son, a friend and I took the train to downtown Chicago to meet Oscar Hijuelos on his book tour for THE MAMBO KINGS PLAY SONGS OF LOVE.   I was so excited to meet the author of my favorite new book that I admit having felt like a literary groupie. When Hijuelos signed our books, we told him that we—one Puerto Rican, one Dominican—were representatives of his “Latino Fan Club.”

            Those were the days, my friends! Every book got a book tour of some sort. Back then, in the same way I imagine all-to-be published writers were doing, I dreamed about all the cities I would visit whenever my book was published.  Most of the time, I dreamed contiguous United States, but once in a while, a crazy daydream would take me to Hawaii and Paris. 

            Now that I’m about to be published, a book tour is not to be.  A year ago when my editor told me that I wouldn’t be going on a book tour, I was surprised—I thought a book tour was a given of authorhood. I’ve since accepted the fact that it’s all a matter of economics.  It costs money to send a writer on a book tour with expenses like travel, lodging, etc.  You have to be able to fill up the room and somebody like me—an unknown—can’t guarantee that sixty people will show up.

            While my publisher isn’t sending me to NYC or Minnesota, it is doing a great job in other ways. IF I BRING YOU ROSES is the October book pick for Las Comadres Book Club, a national Latino book club which includes a teleconference. My publicist has arranged for me to sign books at my town’s bookstore.  Instead of a reading, she had the great idea for my actress daughter and one of her actor friends to do a staged reading of a section from IF I BRING YOU ROSES. My publicist is also arranging for an event during National Hispanic Month. 

            Once I accepted that my book tour was never going to happen, I tried to think of ways to promote myself and IF I BRING YOU ROSES.  These ideas might work for you, too.  

            Create a website.  I hired one of my daughter’s theatre friends to work on my website which lets potential readers get to know me.  

            At first, I resisted the idea of a business card but my husband created one that features the cover of my book. (Whether a writer likes it or not, part of her business is selling books.)  The cards have come in very handy to help potential book buyers remember the title and my name.

            People in your community might be able to help get out the word about your book.  The manager of the studio where I practice yoga is not only going to post the flyer my husband is creating in a prominent spot reserved for official studio business, but has also volunteered to feature me in the August newsletter.

            Contact teachers you know who might teach your book.  Mi compai is teaching IF I BRING YOU ROSES to his writing students this fall and hosting me at a reading at his college.

            Tell all your writer friends.  When I told Tayari Jones that I wasn’t going on tour, she recommended me for this Countdown to Publication blog.  Another writer invited me to join a writers' panel in the Nashville Festival of The Book.

            Go places to meet writers or people who like books. You never know who might be willing to help you out.  I met Gina Frangello from THE NERVOUS BREAKDOWN at the second anniversary meet-up of She Writes.  She offered me the opportunity to read with other writers during a Sunday Salon Chicago event and the chance to have an interview on  Gina and I happened to be “hood sisters.”  We grew up in the same dangerous inner-city Chicago neighborhood.  Take my word for it—there are very few writers from “the hood.”

            Contact people or groups who might be interested in the subject of your book. I sent galleys to people affiliated with Puerto Rican and Latino Studies.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that some might wish to teach my book in a class.  As luck would have it, I connected with a professor from Hawaii who is helping me with research for a new book about Puerto Ricans who migrated to Hawaii to work the sugarcane plantations.

            Use Facebook and Twitter to get the word out about your book and to connect with readers.  I’m learning!

            So, no book tour for me, but that doesn’t mean that I (you) can’t find new ways to promote my (your) book and still go on crazy daydreams anytime I (you) want.



She Writes Amigas, What crazy day dream have you had, and what has been the reality?


Visit Marisel’s website at

 Connect with Marisel Vera through her She Writes page:



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Comment by Darlene Foster on August 10, 2011 at 7:41pm
Never go anywhere without a copy of your book in your handbag.  If they want to buy more than one you can take orders.  I also have about a dozen in my car at all times. I have sold many books this way and created much interest.  This is a tip I learned a year ago and I am so glad I did.  Your ideas are all excellent.
Comment by Carleen on July 23, 2011 at 9:20am

You might have already thought of these, but here's some ideas:

You can set up a tour yourself, if you're willing to pay for travel. But I'd advise going where you have friends, relatives, colleagues. Rebecca Skloot arranged a tour for her book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks--and not only did signings at stores, but spoke at universities (often crashing on people's couches). You could contact Latino Student Unions at colleges in your state (and surrounding states), for example.


If you don't/can't do that, do walk-ins to all the bookstores in your town & surrounding burbs--drop postcards or business cards & offer to sign any books they have in stock. Introduce yourself to booksellers and librarians. If you're willing to meet with individual book clubs, ask them to introduce you to book clubs they know & include on your website that you're willing to call in or Skype with clubs around the country.


What about setting up a blog tour? There are companies that do that, or you can do it yourself by contacting book bloggers.


Check out other book festivals--it's smart to go where there are already readers.


Does your book have to do with quilting or sewing? Contact those bloggers and forums online too.


You can give away copies of your book on Goodreads.


Also, you might check out

Comment by Karen Fisher-Alaniz on July 22, 2011 at 6:18pm
I know what you mean. I too heard that traditional book tours were going by the wayside. Apparently, they aren't that successful in terms of selling books anyway. I've read that as few as one in 20 people who go to a reading or signing will even buy the book. And with bookstores - there's a heck of competition behind you, on all those bookshelves as you speak. You have lots of great ideas though. My book comes out 11/1/11 (Sourcebooks) and I am amazed at the amount of pre-publication work there is to do! It's never ending. ~Karen
Comment by Marisel Vera on July 22, 2011 at 5:30pm
Great ideas, she(he) writers!  Keep them coming!
Comment by Clark Lohr on July 22, 2011 at 10:12am
I liked that suggestion about talking to teachers who might teach the book. I sent a copy of my novel, Devil's Kitchen, to a Japanese friend who'd encouraged me to write. He rented a room from me for three years while earning a Phd. in Linguistics (and he did it as a non-native speaker of English). He's now a university professor in Japan. He teaches English there. He recommended Devil's Kitchen to his English classes--and I'm thinking that's part of why Devil's Kitchen was Oak Tree Press's number one seller on Amazon for the month of June.
Comment by Rebecca Elswick on July 22, 2011 at 9:42am
My debut novel, Mama's Shoes, will be out in the fall and I am learning so much here! My journey to publication is a very unusual one - beginning way back in 2003 in a Writer's Digest Magazine contest, and thanks to Helen and Myne's comments, I thought I could combine their suggestions into one and create a trailer of how my book came to be through a series of contests.
Comment by Sandra Miller on July 22, 2011 at 5:34am
Thank you for sharing, I'm so glad I joined this community of writers. I've been inspired, encouraged, and have gained a wealth of information. I wish you the best Marisel on your local/virtual book tour.
Comment by Michele Young-Stone on July 22, 2011 at 5:18am
One of the best things that I did was to reach out to other authors whose books I like.  Last year, Heidi Durrow, author of The Girl Who Fell from the Sky, and I met at WORD Brooklyn, so now, we're doing a panel together there this fall with my agent.  (Oct. 13th).  I have also written to independent booksellers to thank them for hand-selling my debut novel.  Lastly, I think I have visited over 100 book groups just locally.  It's a fun way to meet new people and get the word out about your novel.  XO
Comment by Helen W. Mallon on July 21, 2011 at 6:09pm
Lots of great ideas, Marisel!  Have you thought of doing talks in community settings about your journey from your home neighborhood to published author?  Could be aspirational for youth & encouraging for all of  us.
Comment by Sunny Frazier on July 21, 2011 at 3:12pm
When there were no selling venues in my area, I created a book fest with the local library. We got sponsorship by the local newspaper and venue donated by the mall. I had collected contact info for every writer in the area and we put it on for the community. It cost nothing and we kept all of our sales. People wait for opportunity to find them; I like your approach to find opportunity.


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