What’s Up With: Book Signing Tours

On our way down the elevator after work today, Tim voiced a question that has been bugging me for a while now:

Why aren’t there more big time author book signings in Houston?

After all, Houston is the fourth largest city in the U.S. We have a very diverse population that includes many SF and F fans, so why don’t we see more signings? For instance, SF Signal favorite John Scalzi is currently on a book tour. Just look at some of the cities on tour: Half Moon Bay, Novi, Kokom. I mean, what the heck? I’m sure they are nice places, but I’m guessing the population of just our area of Houston has as many, if not more, people. So what is that determines a site for the tour? I know Austin, with the popular Bookpeople store, is a good place for a signing, and its only a couple of hours from Houston. So, if I were to have gone to Austin to see Neal Stephenson (which I did), its most likely I would go to see Scalzi (which I would), even if we’re talking a whole day trip.

So why not come to Houston? There are many areas that could easily host a signing, like The Woodlands or The Galleria just to name a few. All are much closer to us here at the big SFS, and we’d definitely go see our favorite authors (Tobias Buckell, Chris Roberson, Scalzi just to name a few). If anyone can shed some light on the apparently esoteric art of book signing tours, we would love to here from you!

9 thoughts on “What’s Up With: Book Signing Tours”

  1. Yeah, make with the explanations darned it. I am starting to get a complex… Okay, well I already had one, but this seems to be making it worse… :-@

  2. For this tour, Tor simply decided to focus on the West and the Midwest, that’s all. I suspect next tour (if there is one) we may go for the South (including Texas) and the East Coast. I mean, I’m already out for three weeks. I want to actually get home at some point and see my family.

    Incidentally, the Half Moon Bay appearance was at Bay Books, which has handsold literally hundreds of copies of my books, so it was clearly a good place to have an appearance (dozens of people showed up). The Novi appearance make sense because it’s a middle ground between Detroit and Ann Arbor. And the Kokomo appearance is one I’m doing because it’s only an hour or so drive from my house (and I’m doing it with Toby Buckell, which should be fun).

    So, anyway: Next time I’ll lobby for places I haven’t already gone, including some stops in Texas. But all I have to say about THAT is, if I come, man, all y’all better REPRESENT.

  3. If you come anywhere close to Houston (Austin, San Antonio), I will be there, despite the drive. But, you know, it’ll be worth it to meet the man who can start a book with a chapter long fart joke. :D

  4. Neil Gaiman explains that part of the reason he goes where he goes for book signings is msotly, he has to be asked. It’s entirely possible with John Scalzi, no one in Houston’s asked for him. The publishers are less likely to send an author somewhere where no one’s clamoring (to their ears) for him to be there. Book tours are ultimately, for the publisher anyway, about increasing sales and getting some name recognition and that means ultimately, they’re going to go places where the author’s previously been and done well, or where the bookstore’s have asked for him to come, things like that.

  5. And you’ll know when John Scalzi has been on his book tour too long when he goes to $tarbucks and asks for a hot cup of a#$!

    A SF author who doesn’t drink coffee? I can’t get my head around the concept. Well, at least he has feline types.

    :-S

  6. I thought the tour sites for Scalzi were pretty odd as well. I too have heard Neil Gaiman mention those things and there is probably some truth to that. If you have a big enough store with an owner who aggressively pursues a publisher to get on a certain authors book tour schedule, it probably happens. Although not nearly as big as Houston, we get the shaft here in Kansas City (and even relatively nearby and much bigger St. Louis) when it comes to book tours.

  7. I know that this is an old post, but it relates to a new conversation that is taking place.  Houston is just not standing up to its literary potential – except in regards to mysteries and maybe YA novels. I’d like to do something to rectify that. If you’d like to see what I’m writing about the issue, then please feel free to visit my blog.

    P.S. I love the blog! Now, I won’t feel bad if I neglect SF a bit. You’ve got it covered.

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