Also known as: Never let a bunch of anarchists do your organizing.
Someone recently asked me about my experiences on book tours, good and bad. I’ve had lots of good ones, but the worst was really bad. A perfect storm of wasted time, squandered money, and missed opportunity.Let other authors take heed and learn from my experience.
When The Last Three Miles came out in the spring of 2007, a friend insisted I call an indie bookstore in Philly because she loved their politics. I e-mailed, I called, and weeks later one of the staffers called back. “We’re an anarchistic collective, so I’ll have to talk this over with the other members at our next meeting.” A few more weeks passed. I’d almost forgotten them when they finally called back and said, “We’d life to have you come speak.” I agreed, asked them what publicity they would do, suggested a few places they could notify. The only date they had open for me was mid-week, so I had to leave my Hoboken job a little early to go to Penn Station and catch an Amtrak to Philly in order to be on time. It wasn’t cheap. When I arrived, I found their only “publicity” had been to put out a sandwich board in front of the store. Nobody showed and I ate the cost. I also ate a delicious cheesesteak at the nearby Pat’s King of Steaks, which was pretty much the only good thing I could say about the trip.
Moral of the story? When somebody tells you the store is run by an anarchist collective, heed that warning.