So What's It Like To Go On A Book Tour?

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 12.06% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

I have now been doing the Flex West Coast Book Tour for nine days.
It feels like nine hundred.
I do not know how other authors do book tours.  My book tour is a ragtag set of signings stitched together out of sheer will and a determination to say “hello” to people, and so it’s probably different.  I suspect other book authors don’t say “Hey, you’re all awesome people, I can vouch for your most of your good natures personally, so let’s all go out to a bar afterwards and hang out!”
But I do.  So the tour is like a series of mini FerrettCons, where every Saturday I haul twenty people out to a bar with me and I get to know some of them and others I get to hug people I’ve known on the Internets for years and they all meet and mix.  I know friends have been made at my book signings already.  That’s awesome.
And every time, before the signing, I have the exact same three fears, as predictable as Alexander Dane before the Galaxy Quest signings:
Nobody’s going to show up.  Thus far, I have yet to play to an empty house.  People are wonderful.  I keep calling this the Chekov’s Gun Tour, because honestly?  It’s going well only thanks to things I did years before this tour, with no understanding that it would help this tour.  I’ve been blogging for years, so people show up to meet me because my words have touched them.  I’ve gone to cons for years, so writers show up to show their support for me.  Basically, when I look out over the crowds of people, I don’t see An Audience, but rather ZOMG, that’s my LJ friend from 2007, and that’s someone I haven’t seen since World Fantasy in 2010, and that’s that FetLife girl I have such the crush on, and who is that person? I bet I know them.
I usually know them.
Wearing this suit is so ridiculous.  I change into The Italian Suit in the bathroom, which should feel like a superhero… but The Suit is awkward to put on, and requires not dropping The Suit in the toilet while I try to put my boots on, and when I stride out people go, “Oh, that’s Ferrett!” and so it’s like a superhero outfit.  If you aren’t sure that’s Ferrett, look for the nails and the electric blue suit and the hat.  You can always talk to me when I have this suit on.  Promise.
This tour is fucking absurd.  It’s an ego trip.  You had one novel published, and who the hell do you think you are to go out on this tour for that?  And it is, really.  It’s a four-week celebration of Me, and by God how fucked up is that?
Yet how fucked up is it that people actually want to celebrate me?
People are happily picking up my novel, shaking my hand, eager to have me sign their books – I number every book I’ve signed, and I am at #196 now – and while I’d expect an indulgent smile, some of them are even more psyched than I am.  They’re going out of their way to drive to me to say hello, and what kind of a schmuck would I be if I didn’t look ’em in the eye and tell ’em just how awesome this is?
Still, I remember Ian coming up to me at my first book signing.  “Lemme see your hand,” he said.  I held it out. “Yup,” he told me.  “It’s trembling.”
My hands are always trembling, but somehow it never gets easier, and it never gets less awesome.
All this terror and happy confusion.
And yet I’m never quite anchored, on tour.  I show up, crash at a friend’s house for a few days, learn how to work their shower, put in a new Wi-Fi password, buy them dinner.  We’re always doing dinner.  Or lunch.  Or breakfast.  Because there’s someone in town who we just gotta see, a friend or a writer or a friend who’s a writer who I need to steal a few hours from, so our bellies are always full.  We’re gaining weight, such weight.
But it means that every day is like a three-act play, sometimes four acts.  We do breakfast with someone in one side of town, drive madly to another side of town to meet up with another dear friend, meet a third person for dinner.  Sometimes they come back to our hotel room and we talk until two in the morning.  Then we do this again.
Did I say the events were like a FerrettCon?  Hell, every day is a FerrettCon on the road.
And all the while, I keep getting notifications that Flex is doing pretty well.  Not bestseller well.  Not even well enough to pay off the meal expenses we’re incurring in one day on this damn thing.  But for a debut novel from a nobody, it’s exceeding expectations…
…and most people who read it are digging it.  Not all; a couple of people have legit complaints.  But the signings, well, I expected them to be “people showing up to have The Ferrett sign a book,” and in fact some of them are “people who’ve loved the book who want Ferrett to sign it,” which is an entirely different experience.  I’m getting questions about Valentine, about Aliyah, about what the hell happened to Europe, and you’re going to tell us all what happened to Europe in the next book, aren’t you?
….sure, he says, looking over the next manuscript, which doesn’t really.
(The third book does deal with Europe.  Let’s see if Angry Robot wants it.  But right now, Paul’s got bigger problems right here in New York City.)
And Gini and I will return to normal.  Eventually.  But I’m so glad she’s here.  I hate meeting people without her.  She’s such a part of my life that I don’t feel like people really know me until they’ve met her, and now they can meet her too and have her laugh at them and be all sexy and clever and smart in that Gini-way that Gini-does.  And you’ll know exactly what portion of my smarts comes from her.
And this Saturday, is another signing in San Diego, and then San Francisco, and I go home.  Which is fine.  But the busy stuff starts now – I have so many friends in the Sans of California, and I’ll try to see them all, and some I’ll fanboy squee at and others I’ll just hug and ZOMG.
It’s good.
It’s so fucking good.
I can’t wait to see you.

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