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Lisa Napoli's lessons for book tour

July 8, 2011 |  2:03 pm

Radioshangri-la If Lisa Napoli's name sounds familiar, it might be because she's a former host of the public-radio show "Marketplace," or because before that she was a reporter for the New York Times. Or maybe it's because her memoir, "Radio Shangri-La: What I Learned in Bhutan, the Happiest Kingdom on Earth," was published earlier this year.

Napoli has come to the end of five months of mostly do-it-yourself book touring. "Radio Shangri-La" was her first book, and she threw herself into the project of being an author on book tour with the enthusiasm of an eager reporter trying to get to the bottom of the story.

On her blog, she shares that story. Although she mentions the online marketing efforts behind her book -- a blog tour and book giveaway, and, of course, Facebook and Twitter -- much of Napoli's advice is about getting out in the world and doing the traditional face-to-face book tour:

Where do I have friends and family to visit? 

When I go to a bookstore, what media are logical to hit up for an interview? In my old haunt of North Carolina, for instance, an appearance on Frank Stasio’s show on WUNC turned out over 70 people that night to Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh. The bookseller was astonished as more chairs had to be hauled out, and so was I, since I knew hardly any of the people who showed up.

Book store mailings: a very powerful tool that gets your book out in front of people who might not otherwise have heard of it -- and thus, another reason to go to bookstores.

Libraries: They love having authors come to speak, and I personally am a library fanatic. Conventional wisdom is that people who go to library events may not buy books....[but] I am sure that in each place I’ve gone, at least one person has gone home and told someone else about Bhutan and my book.

Book clubs and ladies lunches! One random chat with someone in a cafe.... led a local book club to choose "Radio Shangri-La" and invite me to come speak to them about it.

Book festivals: Thanks to a long-ago friend who'd landed in Tucson, I got connected to a “mafia” of people involved with the growing Tucson Festival of Books, and invited not only to speak there, but also to speak at a private Women’s Foundation fundraiser.

"If there’s any one takeaway here for authors who are reading this," Napoli adds, "it's that in this year, 2011, writing a book isn't just about writing a book. It's about selling your book -- and there’s no one way to do it, and no one like you to do it."


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-- Carolyn Kellogg