By the time you read this, I’ll be some place else. Possibly in the far north of Scotland doing last-minute prep for another talk about my novel, When the Boats Come Home.
I’m away for twenty-four days and I’m calling it a book tour. The novel is based around the 1921 Fishermen’s Revival in Great Yarmouth that spread up the east coast as newly converted fishermen returned home after the autumn fishing season, and as evangelist Jock Troup was led to various places to preach and inspire. My trip is taking me to a number of the places he visited, starting in Dundee, where thanks to ACW’s Wendy Jones, I’ve a nicely full diary! This is the same Wendy Jones who invited me to write about how to organise a book tour for this blog. So here goes.
1. Many writers are introverts and doing publicity is painful for introverts. Ergo, even thinking about organising a book tour is going to be painful. Be ready.
2. You get ready by praying. Lots. ‘Is this something You want me to do?’ is the first prayer. ‘Help’ is the next one that you’ll need over and over!
3. Where to go, what to do, depends on the kind of book you’ve written. You need to go where the people are who will be genuinely interested in your book. Mine is overtly Christian and based around a real-life revival and real-live evangelists so my time will be mostly with churches, church groups and Christian bookshops.
4. Be clear about what you’re trying to achieve. I am not out to make money. It would be lovely to cover my costs but I see my writing as ministry just as much as I see my lay preaching, so a large part of my focus is spreading the word of God’s amazing transforming love. I also care a lot about encouraging other writers so I’ll be talking to writing groups, doing some workshops at my old High School (how I wish an ‘author’ had turned up there when I was a teenager to enthuse me!) and giving library talks to encourage readers.
5. Find helpers, advocates, folk with contacts and let them help you. I have received so much help I’m awed by the sheer kindness of people – setting up things for me to do, telling other people, providing overnight accommodation.
6. Don’t tie it up too tight. Leave room for the Holy Spirit to interrupt your plans, sidetrack you, throw holy spanners and leave you gasping with amazement at just how much better it all turned out to be!
7. Say thank you – to God who is out there ahead of you organising everything, to all the folk who help, who turn up, who feed you and provide glasses of water.
8. The one I probably won’t pay any attention to: build in plenty of time to rest. Your audience deserves your best.
9. Allow enough time for the planning. Months not weeks!
When the Boats Come Home is Dorothy Stewart’s eleventh book and first novel. After working her way up the ladder in book publishing, a gentle nudge (they asked for my resignation!) led her to swap sides and take to writing. A lay preacher in the United Reformed Church, she lives in Suffolk with a small black cat and spends too much time on Facebook. Details of Dorothy’s books are on www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00ZCYXFK6. The book tour and other stories can be found on her blog: www.dorothystewartblog.wordpress.com