• Tayari Jones
  • "Don't Let That Man Eat Your Career," and Other Preparations for Hitting the Road
This blog was featured on 07/18/2016
"Don't Let That Man Eat Your Career," and Other Preparations for Hitting the Road
Written by
Tayari Jones
May 2011
Written by
Tayari Jones
May 2011

1.5/52 Vagabond in a nutshell.....

The Silver Sparrow Tour will hit more than thirty cities this summer.  Of course I am thrilled to meet so many readers, but thirty is a lot of cities and eight weeks is a long time to be on the road.  To prepare, I am basically in training. For the next two months, I will be acting as an ambassador for my novel and I must do a good job, or else what’s the point.  Here's what I'm doing to get ready.

Cutting negative people out of my life:  Book tour is a vulnerable time, an emotional rollercoaster.  Now is the time to be surrounded only by real friends.  On the subject of a competitive, jealous, ex-boyfriend,I offer a warning from my publicity guru, Lauren: “ A guy like that will eat your career.”  Then she mimed Cookie Monster and I imagined him devouring everything I had worked for.  Anybody that’s not making my garden grow has to be put on hold, at least until September.  I am usually a pretty patient person, but for book tour, I have to protect myself.

Packing trial suitcases:  I will have to do it with just a carry-on. Why? Because I’ll be on a plane every day and what will happen if my checked bag gets lost? I consulted a couple travel website, asked other writers, and put out a call for advice on facebook.  I came up with a plan and I have tried three times to get my suitcase situation together.  (I’m not there yet, but I am getting closer. Apparently you should roll clothes, rather than fold.)

Sleeping: I am not a good sleeper under the best of circumstances, but you can imagine that my rest is troubled as my pub-date gets closer.  More from Lauren: “You need to go to bed.” Then she added, “And you must rest while you’re on the tour.” The idea being that a run-down, haggard, irritable author does NOT help the book. Last week I went to the LA Festival of Books.  When I got to my hotel, I forced myself to take a nap rather than run to the author reception and shake hands and chat. It was hard, but I did it.

Practice interviews: Last week, I blogged about what to say when people ask you “what’s your book about.” In interviews, the hard question is “What motivated you to write this book.”  Writers know that this is an intensely personal matter.  To really answer it, I would have to reveal my most vulnerable tender layer.  But I have to say something and when the interviewer is on NPR, I have to say it to millions of people.  Lauren and I have been doing test runs to figure out how to tell the truth while respecting my boundaries.

Putting the social media on auto-pilot:  Everyone knows that facebook and twitter are the best way to remind people about your upcoming events.  But when I’m on the run, I am not going to be able to keep all my social networks current.  In preparation, I have used Hootsuite to  schedule tweets and facebook status updates for every day of the tour with the dates and times of my events. 

Learning to enjoy the ride:  So many good things have been happening to Silver Sparrow and I don’t want to be so busy preparing for the publication that I can’t enjoy this amazing experience.  I know this shouldn’t be something that a person should have to practice, but when you’re been pedalling uphill for so long, you have to learn to coast and feel the breeze.  To that end, I have been keeping a journal and every night I write down what I have to be grateful for.  I write down the big things like being featured in a magazine, but I also make note of every encouraging email from a reader.  And every night, I end the list with the same sentence: I am so lucky to be able to live my dream.


Now, to you SheWriters—

  • Do you have any travel tips to share?
  • How do you handle toxic people?
  • What do you do to make an interview a success?
  • We’re all friends here, can you tell us what *not* to do?

Let's be friends

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  • Tayari Jones

    Valerie, four cities can grow to more. As your reputation grows, the invitations will start rolling in! I will be posting tomorrow about getting help from the people around you as you work to get the word out.

  • Valerie Nieman

    Thanks for this! I'm putting together my tour in a 4-state area, not as extensive as yours, but I too am trying to get a handle on responding succinctly to “what’s your book about?”  Best of luck on your journeys.

  • Beth Sorensen

    I travel a lot and the one thing I have to remember when it comes to traveling is every town has a drug store. With the exception of Pepto & Tylonol, I don't pack anything that I "might" need. I only pack want I must have daily or weekly. I can pick up the rest as I go. Also a bag that zips up tiny then opens into a large bag is helpful. You don't want to take your suitcase to every outing! Finally, don't forget you can always mail things home you no longer need. Good luck and let us know how it goes!

  • Tayari Jones

    Thank you, everyone for these kind comments and helpful hints. I love how many people are going on tours of their own. It's so inspiring to imagine all of us out here doing it.  For people on the road, or people working their books.  We are all on this journey!

  • Joie Grandbois

    Love this!  Thank you for sharing.  Venturing into something new is so scary.

  • Helen Phillips

    Thank you so much for your insightful book launch posts, Tayari--you are a voice of reason amid my own book launch chaos! I am very grateful, and best of luck with the tour.

  • Connie Briscoe

    You are on a mission! You have worked so hard preparing and I admire that. Touring can be tough and sometimes those closest to us don't really get that. Wishing you the best of luck.

  • Tina L. Hook

    What an inspiring post. Congrats. I hope to be in this position some day, though I imagine it will be the part I will be the least good at. http://www.girlwithanewlife.com

  • Sonya Huber

    Lots of pictures! In the haze of exhaustion I forget the beautiful faces and packed shelves at bookstores. Bookstore and reading photos are some of my favorites. Be sure to post those!

  • RYCJ Revising

    Inspiring post; great headline! Congratulations!

  • Katrina Spencer

    My Mama used to say that toxic people are like toxic waste. "Touch 'em and you'll get contaminated." Which basically means they have to be cut out or they will be a constant distraction from all your success. You DESERVE every ounce of success and I hope you try to take time each day to relish all the fruits of your hard work.

  • Pamela Booker

    just saw the announcement for your visit to Maplewood at the WORDS Bookstore. yahoo!

  • Lynn Emery

    Have a great time! You'll be fabulous, and happy that you connected with so many people.

  • Evelyn N. Alfred

    Ah, so you can plan tweets with Hootsuite? I didn't know that.

  • Awesome post! I'm going to use HootSuite the next time i'm on the road. I'd also suggest drinking a gatorade and one or two glasses of red wine every night. That way you'll get a nice deep sleep w/o the dehydration. That formula saved my life on tour.

  • This is a great slideshow on packing a carry-on:


    A friend of mine traveled around the world for a month with only a carry-on using this technique!

  • Ananda Leeke

    I am so excited for you Tayari. Thanks for sharing your insights and tips. I will send you light and love as you navigate your adventures on tour. Breathe deeply and do a few yoga poses in your bed like child's pose to relax yourself in the morning and evening.  Keep shining.

  • Teri Carter

    I used to travel every week, so here's my best tip.  Roll your clothes is right.  Lay out an empty dry cleaning bag on your floor, place your open clothes in a stack, lay another dry cleaning bag over the top, and roll up securely.  The slippery bags on both sides keep your clothes from wrinkling!  Also, if you place your sleepwear/underthings/socks in a small stack (like a big brick) and roll the clothes around them, that saves space.

  • Lovely post, Tayari.  I will be happy to glean tips on doing all that with ONE carryon!  Quantum physics!  Enjoy your tour.  p.s. Lauren is great!