Luckily, I have a documentary filmmaker for a husband, which means he is a champion at home-grown publicity and hare-brained ideas. He immediately discarded my nobody-gets-a-book tour line and started thinking about other ways to get the word out about the book. As we all know, times have changed. Social media has changed it.
Months ago, in the frozen dead of the New York City winter, we fulfilled a many-years-held goal and bought tickets for the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, which happens each year in Colorado in late June. So we knew we had a trip out west in the summer. I teach, so my summers are my own, and Paul’s work as a freelance sports editor for CBS is in hiatus between basketball and football, so he also had some time. But now what? Readings, especially in the summertime, can be terrifyingly unattended. Bookstore owners, understandably, don’t like to take a chance that they will throw an empty event. So what else could we do that involved my book and bookstores?
As a writer and a bookworm, I value bookstores more than drugstores, hardware stores, and most restaurants. And I know I’m not alone. Yet in New York City, where I live, bookstores are closing down at an alarming rate. Rising rents, kindles, and an online population are chipping away at the solid foundation of even the most beloved and revered stores (you can read here about a few of these closings in New York City). The only positive (and I use that term loosely) outcome from all these shutterings might be that people are starting to notice that they are losing their bookstores, and they are starting to care. And even as articles come out in papers across the country mourning the loss of local bookstores, other articles are talking about the survival of these beloved businesses.
As Paul and I discussed our options, we began to think less about readings and more about bookstores. What if we drove back to New York City from Colorado on a route dictated not by monuments or attractions, but by great independent bookstores? We could stay with friends or camp, and see some of the country while we were at it. Of course, some sort of event would be ideal, but thanks to social media, even just a visit to a bookstore could be an event of sorts. The road trip would both a celebration of independent bookstores, an investigation into their strategies for survival, and a chance to connect with booksellers across the country (and hopefully sign books!) With that extremely vague idea in mind, a plan started to take shape.
I called my publicist and told her our idea. She jumped right on it and started reaching out to bookstores. We also enlisted friends with connections in the book world to make more introductions, and the Indie Bookstore Roadtrip was born.
We’ve been to two bookstores so far–Boulder Bookstore in Boulder Co, and Between the Covers in Telluride, Co. Along the way, we hiked, camped, caught up with old friends, and spent four days listening to amazing music at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival.
I’m not a particularly brave person when it comes to socializing—definitely on the shy side of the scale. But I love talking about books, and I’m having a blast interviewing the owners of bookstores! I also signed books in both stores, which meant that they each bought extra copies of Lost Children, and I’m blogging about the trip on my website, emilyraabe.com. I’m finding out the various ways that bookstores are making it (common theme—buy local, not online!), and as an unexpected perk, I’ve had to make room in the car for my growing library based on recommendations from booksellers (I stayed up until midnight at the campfire last night reading E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars, Bobbi from Boulder Bookstore’s pick) – you can see the rest of the book picks on my blog.
Our next stop is in Placerville Colorado, at the home of a friend of a friend. Rosemary has invited all the families that she knows to come to a potluck and book reading. We’ll swim in the river, share a meal, and then I’ll read and sign books. We may sell a bunch of books; we may not sell any at all. But what I’m finding on the Indie Bookstore Road Trip is that I’m meeting amazing people, connecting with other bookworms, seeing the country, and blogging about it. And I’m typing this from a campsite that looks over some of the most beautiful mountains I’ve ever seen. Perhaps hare-brained ideas are what it takes to publicize our books in today’s saturated social media world. It may not be a book tour in the old-school sense of the word, but it’s pretty great so far.
About the Author
Emily Raabe lives in New York City with her husband, the filmmaker Paul Devlin. Her novel for children, Lost Children of The Far Islands, will be published in April 8, 2014 by Knopf. Her 2011 book of poems, Leave It Behind, was a finalist for the FutureCycle First Book Award. Her poems have appeared in periodicals including The Marlboro Review, Big Ugly Review, Indiana Review, Diner, Chelsea, Alaska Quarterly Review, Gulf Coast, Crab Orchard Review, Antioch Review, and Eleven Eleven. She is also the author of a monograph on the work of the sculptor Lawrence LaBianca.
For more information, visit: emilyraabe.com
Twins Gus and Leo and their little sister, Ila, live a quiet life in Maine—until their mother falls ill, and it becomes clear her strength is fading because she is protecting them from a terrible evil. Soon the children are swept off to a secret island far in the sea, where they discover a hidden grandmother and powers they never knew they had. Like their mother, they are Folk, creatures who can turn between human and animal forms. Now they must harness their newfound magic for a deeper purpose. The ancient, monstrous King of the Black Lakes will stop at nothing to rise to power, and they are all that stands in his way. Their mother’s life hangs in the balance, and the children must battle this beast to the death—despite a dire prophecy that whoever kills him will die. Can Gus, Leo, and Ila overcome this villain? Or has he grown too strong to be defeated? Lost Children of the Far Islands is a story filled with magic, excitement, and the dangers and delights of the sea.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers | April 8, 2014 | ISBN-13: 978-0375870910
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