Friday, October 16, 2009

Virtual Publicity Translates to Real Sales

The first book tour I ever made was in 1980, when my biography of Fred Gipson, the Texas author who wrote the classic novel "Old Yeller," came out. I traveled from Amarillo to Beaumont, missing only El Paso and the Rio Grande Valley, in doing media interviews and other appearances. It took time and energy, but it paid off with a lot of ink and air time, which of course had been the goal.

Now, from the comfort of my home office in Austin, I'm off on a virtual book tour thanks to my friend Stephanie Barko, my Austin-based publicist. (Check out her Web site at am "appearing" at various Web sites popular with readers of books, from to the Web site of Portland's legendary Powell's Book Store, to discuss the final book of my two-volume Texas Ranger history, "Time of the Rangers: The Texas Rangers from 1900 to Present." (New York: Forge Books, $27.95)

For those of you who'd like to travel along with me, here's my virtual itinerary:

10/13/09 Texas Pages Blog

10/14 Books & Writers

10/15 Bookgasm

10/16 GoodReads / History is not Boring Group

10/16 GoodReads / Texas Readers Group

10/16-10/29 GoodReads

10/17 Western Americana Blog

10/19 Rough Edges Blog

10/26 Texas Escapes

10/27 Powell's Blog

10/29 Straight from Hel Blog

10/31 Texas Scribbler Blog

11/2 Bookzillion Blog

11/3 Writers in the Sky newsletter

11/4 Powell's newsletter

11/4 Powell'

11/14 Texas History Page Blog

TBD Texana Review

On Tour, Literally and Virtually

It's a literary cliche for a writer to write about his adventures while on the road trying to peddle his books through media interviews and assorted public appearances, but hey, when you're a writer, you write what you know.

Just back from a mini in-person tour to Fort Worth, where I signed copies of "Historic Photos of Texas Oil" at Neiman-Marcus for their annual In-Circle VIP party. Sold a good pile of books and met some interesting people.

Got up at 4 a.m. the following morning to drive home to Austin where a friend graciously drove me to Houston for a noon lecture to the Houston Heritage Society at the Tea Room in their complex at Sam Houston Park beneath the towers of downtown. With only minor technical concerns, presented a PowerPoint slide show of selected vintage oil patch images from the book (plus a selection of outtakes) and again, signed and sold books afterward.

Society educational director Elizabeth Martin gave my old friend Larry BeSaw and I a tour of the complex, and then we headed to a mutual friend's place for a little rest before the next appearance, another signing at Neiman-Marcus. Following that event at their Galleria store, we had a good sea food dinner (well, I did...Larry, having grown up in Gainesville near the Red River says something has to have two or four legs before he'll eat it) and then headed back to Austin. I'm glad he was driving, because by the time we'd reached Columbus, I had begun to nod off despite an enjoyable conversation.

Finally, with apologies to David Letterman, who has enough on his plate right now, the Top 3 most common lines from my oil book appearances:

1) Q: "Oh, are/were you in the oil bidness?"
A: "Yes, I am. I am an end-consumer of the product."

2) Q: "Did you take these pictures?"
A: "Do I really look that old?"

3) Q: "Are these books complimentary?"
A: "Of whom?"

In my next post, I'll talk about my virtual book tour.