Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Booking Across America: The Truth About Book Tours

A week ago, Deb Friedman—the official queen of cool, former director of women’s marketing at Burton Snowboards, and co-founder of the hip and all-new JustRightResumes—swung through Seattle for my going away party…and to geocache for the first time.

Now that I’m about to begin China Tour 2008 (my upcoming move to Shanghai), it’s long overdue to summarize my favorite parts of

that Deb conceived and managed.

The truth about touring to launch a book is this: it can be long and grueling with multiple events and interviews every day. It takes a ton of people to spearhead—awesome publishers and publicists (go, Rachel Wasdyke--no other publisher better steal her away from Little, Brown--and Media Masters).

For Girl Overboard, we wanted to do something different, something innovative. Something that would make a difference to teens.

So instead of a joe-standard, trot-the-author-around-bookstores book tour, my publisher worked with Burton Snowboards and YouthVenture on a new concept. Put an Olympic Gold Medalist on the road with me as the ultimate Girl Overboard prop. Add a heavy dose of community service that’s so important to me and underscores my book. And voila! An all-new kind of tour with the objective of getting teens psyched to change the world.

Top Moments of Book Touring 2008!

1. Becoming friends with so many exceptional people, especially my book tour partner and Olympic Gold medalist, Hannah Teter, her amazing mom, Pat Teter, and Deb (the marketing wonderwoman who architected the entire tour and challenge grant!).

2. Being in Hannah’s presence and watching her compete at the X-Games in Aspen, CO. More than eating healthily (we found every single organic health food store in all the cities we toured), Hannah lives healthily: donating her time and earnings to causes she believes in. Being with her for weeks was good for my soul.

3. Working with Burton Snowboards and YouthVenture on the Go Overboard Challenge Grant—and inspiring teens to take action. We gave away 12 grants, each $1000 to teens who had amazing ideas to rock the world.

4. Visiting countless high schools and libraries around the country and meeting thousands of students, especially the ones in inner city schools in Chicago, Denver, and the Bay Area. I was so stoked to meet this generation’s changemakers. Look at them! These are the girls who are already leading the change our world needs.

5. Seeing the Go Overboard Challenge Grant included on both the Burton Snowboards & YouthVenture websites! Not bad that the Challenge Grant generated more site traffic for YouthVenture than any other grant before! And then having my publisher (Little, Brown Books) support our grant with a gorgeous “chap book” that was distributed to thousands of people. (Thank you, Lisa nee Laginestra --again, hands off her, you other publishers, you!)

6. Garnering well over 2 million media impressions—meaning that word about the Girl Overboard grant was spread far and wide through all of our TV, radio, web, blog, and print interviews.

7. Meeting amazing librarians and booksellers who are passionate about books, including the extraordinary Sharon Levin and Walter Mayes and Robin Willard who know everything there is to know about YA lit. (Sharon even cooked me a yummy dinner! And her daughter makes a mean guacamole!)

8. Watching my kids recruit 10 other children to host the Peace, Love & Pancakes fundraising dinner. They raised over $10,000 to fund Hannah’s charity work in Kenya. Now, THAT was the ultimate way to end a fantastic tour.

9 and 10. And most of all, connecting to readers and learning that my books made a difference to them.

Thank you to everyone for making the Go Overboard Challenge Grant and the Girl Overboard Book Tour happen. Now, go change the world. Start by reading a good book.

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