Irish Girl author Tim Johnston detailed his experience taking full advantage of a surprise endorsement by bestselling author David Sedaris, and it wasn’t cheap. Basically, Johnston shadowed Sedaris’ multi-city book tour, booking readings and signings the day after a Sedaris appearance at his own expense.
Johnston says he saw immediate spikes in his Amazon ranks during the tour, but his rank returned to normal on the online retailer’s site once his tour ended. However, the experience reminded him of why he writes in the first place–for readers.
A year later, it’s best not to reckon the Shadow Tour according to book sales nor any other economic yardstick. Sedaris and I did all we could to entice the book-buying public, yet, as of this sentence, “Irish Girl’s” Amazon ranking is almost exactly where it was before he began his tour, while, over at the University press, where “Irish Girl” is the No. 1 bestseller, my one-year royalties check will not put a dent in the thousands of dollars in gasoline, motel rooms, Subway sandwiches, credit card debt, Starbucks and lost income my book tour has cost me. Nor repair the dents I put in the Chevy when, somewhere in Kansas, deciding at the last second that I must have an Arby’s Jamocha shake, I took an off-ramp in the rain and found my truck beheading a traffic sign of some kind (Slow for ramp?) while I fought to keep it from rolling and spewing copies of “Irish Girl” all over the road.
The true numbers, the numbers that return to me every month in the form of bank statements, are empirical and ridiculous. So I think instead of the people I met in the bookstores of America — not networkers, not tweeters, not the friended, but live human beings, book lovers, honest-to-God readers, a living audience.
Read the full treatise on Salon.com.