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    A mad rush of a pre-pub tour: four dinners in four cities in four days

    By Jennifer 8. Lee | November 5, 2007

    My book at a Chinese restaurant in Changsho, by Nicole WongThis week I am on a pre-publication tour, going to different cities and having dinner at (where else?) Chinese restaurants with booksellers and local media. Julie Bosman does a nice job explaining the motivation for pre-pub tours in this piece from The New York Times.

    As she writes:

    Unlike the postpublication book tour, which focuses on publicity and public appearances, the pre-publication tour is meant to win the hearts of the front-line soldiers in the bookselling trenches, and more and more publishers are finding it an indispensable part of their marketing plan.

    While major decisions are left to the bookstore chains’ influential buyers, the people out in the field — the store managers and the clerks — can wield considerable power over how long books continue to be displayed on prime tables at the front of the store, and therefore over the what their customers choose to buy and read.


    Morgan Entrekin, the publisher of Grove/Atlantic, is credited with inventing the pre-publication tour a decade ago when he circled the country with Charles Frazier, the author of “Cold Mountain.” The book was a smash, selling 1.6 million copies in hardcover and spending 61 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list in hardcover and 33 in paperback.

    In a business that is becoming increasingly driven by online retailing and corporate buying decisions, booksellers are all too eager to meet authors and publishers in person.

    We are doing Washington, Boston, Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Chicago was originally on the list but we were like, no. The cities were picked because of either a connection with me, strong Asian interest or strong independent bookseller scene, or some combination thereof.

    I ended up having to talk continuously at the dinner and I have props (I was very good at share and tell in 1st grade). My voice is hoarse, and I often don’t end up eating. Anyway. It’s very odd having people show up at a dinner because of you, thear you speak. Especially if you are a journalist, when you like to be the voyeur and not the voyant.

    My friends are like, “But isn’t that what your parties are like?” Actually no. Most people go to my parties for the other people, not for me. I can put two people together and tell them to talk to each other, and walk away. I do not have to entertain them. They can entertain each other, especially if there is alcohol involved. Have I mentioned I am responsible (directly or indirectly) for four weddings — and I have a few more things in the pipeline. If I were Jewish, I would be on my way to heaven, with one to spare.

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