Authors Are Anchovies

Along with Borders' descent into Chapter 11 bankrupcty, Margaret Attwood's keynote at the Tools of Change publishing conference is the talk of the book industry this morning. Every author likes to hear that he or she is the foundation of the entire business. But just because it's flattering doesn't mean it's not true.

Pre-Tour Day #5

I'd been planning on updating this blog every day of the tour, but the pace has been such that I need to catch up to give you a retrospective sense of the experience.

This concept of promoting a new author months ahead of the pub date isn't exactly new in the book biz, but I gather that these pre-tours have worked well for Minotaur recently; with the marketplace already crowded it's smart to get out ahead whenever you can. I've come away really awestruck by my publishers' faith in this novel, needless to say.

Day #5 involved a drive from Portland to Seattle and then a visit to It struck me as fitting that there's actually a Starbucks on one of the higher floors, doubling as an informal gathering place for meetings like this. Amazon is really keen on multimedia promotions so it was intriguing tossing around ideas about how I might leverage my "platform" (today it seems all writers are required to have a platform" an odd concept that embraces the idea of life expertise, general media savvy, and a willingness to do some of your own heavy lifting in the marketing department. No longer is it enough to write a fine book). We also visited a great indie store, Elliot Bay Books before heading to dinner at the top-notch Dahlia Lounge. We had a larger group (and fortunately a private room) for this one.

As was the case in Portland the night before, I was implored to perform my rude version of a moose call to demonstrate my Maine bona fides as we were leaving the restaurant. Seattle must be quite a worldly (or jaded city when you can stand on a street corner and wail like a moose and very few passers-by give you a second look.

Desperate Times Call for Hopeful Measures

I met Robin Agnew who owns Aunt Agatha's, a small mystery bookshop in Ann Arbor, on my recent pre-tour, and she gave me some great recommendations about crime writers I need to read, as well as lots of wise advice about building a career as an author. She also has some interesting insights on the innovative steps everyone in the book business — publishers and booksellers alike — are taking to sustain the industry now. For instance, Minotaur is sending me out on the road to build buzz for the The Poacher's Son even before the novel drops—instead of after it hits the shelves, as was traditionally the case. Meanwhile, Aunt Agatha's is refocusing its efforts around author events and used-book sales.

Robin's description of me at our dinner as "very nice, very excited, and somewhat overwhelmed" is accurate, I'd have to say. At least the "excited and overwhelmed" parts. I'm in no position to pronounce on my own niceness, but I'm glad she thought me so.