1. Hire a publicist. Not only should your publicist schedule your book events, she should also make your hotel and travel arrangements. This extra service is worth the expense, since it prevents missed opportunities. I only listened to half of this advice by hiring a publicist to arrange only the book signing events. Because my publicist did not plan my travel arrangements, I ended up being unable to reschedule one leg of my flight to take advantage of a last minute TV interview. If my publicist had managed the entire trip, this would not have happened.
2. Hire an author escort or roadie. An author escort meets you at the airport, takes you to your hotel, and drives you to the event. She may also highlight points of interest in each city and suggest places to go for meals. If you can’t afford an author escort, you can also hire a roadie who will carry your bags to and from the airport, drive you to your hotel and events, and take pictures for your website. The roadie won’t pack your suitcase, so you may still forget that beautiful angora sweater on the hotel duvet, which is exactly what I did.
3. Bring your own pen. Every bookstore manager asked, “Where’s your pen?” Not only was I unaware of the expectation that each author has a special book tour pen, I only carried those fine tipped ball point pens I use to jot down notes when inspiration strikes. If I had known better, I would have purchased a red fine tipped felt pen for autographing books – red to emphasize the title and the message of happiness.
4. Bring your own bottled water. Most bookstores supplied water, but the schools I visited did not. You do not want to lean over a water fountain with a highway of students pushing and shoving down the halls between periods in the hopes of quenching your thirst. It does not work. If I had brought my own water, I would have been less hoarse and tired after giving 5 presentations in one day.
In honor of National Poetry Month, I am posting a poem for your enjoyment. It’s one of those “found” poems from my notebook in which I jot down observations, insights, snippets of conversations, and idiosyncrasies that simmer for months or sometimes years until a poem eventually emerges.
Hotel La Violeta
We step out of the elevator and into soft blue light—you in a red slinky dress with silver sparkles, I in a blue velvet dress with black high heels—swaying to Tracy Chapman’s sad serenade, “Give Me One Reason,” while a boy streaks through the lobby in his Spiderman underwear, his father waving the boy’s khaki pants and shouting, “You can’t escape!” We meander over to the bar with its brassy table top and you lean over the clear empty glasses and fall in love with the band instantly. I watch mermaids with broken bodies swim down the wall. Two college roommates play chess in the corner. The potted plant in the window sill reminds me of Patti placing a “Just Divorced!” sign on her window at work. The branch manager served chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream that afternoon. I drank a glass of champagne and thought about how I don’t want to be Patti, all grown up with no place to go because she still has Benjamin, 7, and Laura, 12. I want to be here, with you, away from kids in Spiderman underwear, kids who eat like chipmunks and scream like banshees. I want to know you will never leave me three days before the baby’s due for a business trip, only to visit an old lover whose flame has not fanned out. I want to wake up to red begonias on the night stand, not a fire in the wishing well. I want to hold you, as you held me, sharing joy like a lollipop. As I think these things, my hand lingers on your wrist. You glance up at me with a weak smile. I squeeze, Are you okay?, into your hand. You lean over and whisper, “Remember that floral stationery I bought when we were ten? The one that said, ‘I wish you’d plant your tulips on mine’?” I nod, remembering, just as your lips press against my skin, branding a memory into my body (which is no longer mine) but yours.