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For Today’s Books, it’s an Expedition, Not a Tour

As I embarked on another trip since the launch of my book six months ago, I ran into friends and was asked the question, yet again, “how’s the book tour going?” For some reason, this confounds me because I don’t feel like it’s a tour. I think of tours as detailed itineraries with a tight schedule, traveling Europe, hitting twelve cities in a week. For most authors, that notion is old-fashioned. Yes, many still launch books and do targeted events. No, it’s not generally a tightly scheduled tour unless you’re a mega-celebrity. And while I’ve certainly had numerous opportunities to speak in a wide range of venues, to a broad collection of audiences, ‘tour’ is not the word I’d use for it.

My more detailed answer: it’s more of a steady stream of book outreach and engagement, including digital and traditional media engagement, blended with various in-person keynotes, talks, readings and signings. This is the modern book tour, infused with social media, online publications, print publications, podcasts, radio, online video, TV, small book events, big speeches. And frankly I love the variety. Each week, I have a totally new audience – or two or three. Last week, I spoke to a Girl Scout troop about digital safety and I signed books at a political women’s leadership event. This week I’m a featured author at South by Southwest Interactive. At each event, I meet new people and learn new things. It’s not just about sharing the content of my book; it’s about exploring, learning from the others and figuring out how what I’ve learned can help them.

It doesn’t matter to me whether I speak to a group of six kids or a ballroom full of hundreds of professionals; I find the same level of joy from each conversation. When connecting in online spaces, I try to provide the most direct information to assist others as possible. Traditional media is more difficult because it’s one-way, so it’s difficult to discern whether I’m getting through to people, but when I receive feedback for those appearances, that provides value as well. I see it all as part of the journey as an author, as a digital media explorer, and as a citizen of the world. The best part of the experience of sharing The Digital Mystique with others has been their participation in the process, when they have gained something from the material I created and gone on to share it with their friends. In a sense, it’s taking the message in my book of building communities online and off, bringing them together and creating meaningful relationships. So rather than calling it a tour, I think I’ll just call it an expedition. There’s so much more exploration in a two-way process than the old one-way street tour.