The Broke-Ass Book Tour

In Wyoming, Lena points the way


I’ve heard authors complain about book tours. The travel is exhausting, the publicists can be … strange, the succession of hotel room disorientating.

I’m proud to say that I’ve managed to bite my lip each and every time someone expresses these sentiments. I would kill, in the inventive fashion I hope I employ in some of my books, for such a book tour.

To be specific, the kind of book tour that somebody pays for. Somebody who’s not me.

Because, like most writers, the only way my book goes on the road is if I arrange the appearances and foot the bill myself. Until this year, I’ve referred to these trips as Couch-Surfing Book Tours—the kind where you seek out places where you have lovely friends (you know who you are, and thank you again, a million times over) who will put you up.

But this year was different. My previous books were released in the winter, but Disgraced came out in the spring, which meant that after my first few readings and book signings, the weather—even in Montana—turned balmy.

I like to camp. Camping is cheap. Ergo, the camping tour, or as I more accurately termed it, The Broke-Ass Book Tour.

Four-star tent

Four-star tent

It was surprisingly fun. The key, given that I needed to look (and smell) presentable, was finding campgrounds with showers. So, none of the backcountry camping that I’d prefer.

Mmmm, ramen, the writer's friend

Mmmm, ramen, the writer’s friend

Still, I enjoyed spending my before-appearance time working at a picnic table under shady cottonwoods and fragrant pines, and crawling into my tent afterward and reading myself to sleep by the light of my headlamp. A toy dinosaur turned up at one of my campsites. I named her Lena (think Ferrante) and – taking a cue from writer friends Luke Dani Blue and Migueltzinta Solis and their dino buddy, Velma – she became my traveling companion. Oatmeal for breakfast and ramen for dinner. Because, again, cheap. Oh, and a cooler full of microbrews. Because, reward.

That said, the minute a publisher offers to send me someplace on their dime, I’ll jump at the chance. And I swear I will never complain about a single thing.




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