Author signing autograph in own book at wooden table on light blurred background

The classic book talk still rules.

Maybe the publishers aren’t paying for as many big glamour author tours—jets, limos, chauffeurs—as they used to, but the old-fashioned book tour remains a cornerstone of the book-selling business.

The Tattered Cover in Denver (two stores in Denver, one in Littleton) buzzes with talking author heads every night of the week. If you’re a writer and want a slot, you need to request it months in advance.

Jenny Milchman, a friend who writes thrillers, hops in her car on a regular basis for what is officially the “world’s longest book tour.” It’s coast-to-coast, no store-too-small campaign. The 2015 edition of her road trip is called “Bring on the Night,” in honor of her third book, As Night Falls. Her gasoline-pumping ways start later this month (follow her here: http://www.jennymilchman.com/tour/bring-on-the-night-2015). You can stop and greet her when she stops at the Tattered Cover in Denver on July 23.

I would imagine the publisher backs Craig Johnson’s tour for Dry Bones, his latest, and all the Walt Longmire novels before it, too. At his recent stop in Denver, the room was full before the appointed hour and Craig answered questions for 15 minutes before the official “talk” began.

By the way, could you keep up with Craig? You’ll need some stamina. I counted 21 bookstore stops in May and he didn’t start the tour until May 12. He visited every town from Tehachapi to Tonopah (actually from Santa Fe. N.M. to Cody, Wyoming).

Up and down the Front Range of Colorado and anywhere you go, you could make a career out of being the ubiquitous book talk audience member from bookstores to libraries to the offbeat venues, too.

Even with Twitter and Facebook and Goodreads and blog posts connected to your LinkedIn profile, nothing beats a great book talk.

It’s the original social media.

The book talk is like the comeback of vinyl—something real.

You get to look those writers in the eye. You get to hear what they have to say. Why this topic? What drove them to write this book with these themes, these characters, these points, these ideas, these touches, these images, and in this particular style? How do they write? How to they come up with ideas?

Who inspires them? Where do they fit on the journalistic or narrative non-fiction landscape (if it’s non-fiction) or in the great sweep of story-telling in the post-modern avalanche of fiction?

You never know what you’re going to get—not really. Recently, Gregory Hill’s launch of “The Lonesome Trials of Johnny Riles” ended with a small-band acoustic performance of America’s chestnut, “A Horse With No Name.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zFRo13Uy8f4 By the time Hill gathered his mates on “stage” for this performance, he’d already sold everyone in the room a book—his prepared speech was spot-on hilarious and well thought out.

If you’re a book talk fan, by the way, and are unfamiliar with the Authors on Tour podcast, check it out—a wide variety of Tattered Cover presentations are captured on audio for your listening pleasure. http://authorsontourlive.com/ (And if you’ve never given a book talk and want to get a flavor for the ones that work, that’s as good a resource as any to hear how they run.)

The recent podcast with T.C. Boyle was fantastic—and includes a long reading from his new book. http://authorsontourlive.com/tc-boyle-podcasts-the-harder-they-come/ All for free. What more could you want? Well, other than being in person to get the book signed by the author?

Book talks rock—stimulating ideas and in-person authors (artists) who have poured years into putting together something you can devour in a few days.

It’s you, the writer, and a book.

The best.

About the Author
Mark Stevens has worked as a reporter for The Christian Science Monitor in Boston and Los Angeles; as a City Hall reporter for The Rocky Mountain News in Denver;  as a national field producer for The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour (PBS) and as an education reporter for The Denver Post.  After journalism, he worked in school public relations before starting his own public relations and strategic communications business. He is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, Colorado Authors League, Pike’s Peak Writers, and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Mark is the author of The Allison Coil Mystery Series, which includes Antler Dust, Buried By The Roan, and Trapline. Visit him at http://www.writermarkstevens.com/.

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