A Book Tour Day

5:30 – Alarm goes off. I check my email in bed. There’s not enough time to get down to the gym, which is why I hit it last night before I went to bed. The hotel room is too nice for how many conscious minutes I spent in it. I eat the apple that I grabbed from the gym and take my vitamins. Greek yogurt is ordered from room service. They ask three times if that’s really all I want. I do some situps and pushups before I shower, mostly to get the blood pumping. My fourth city in four days. Eight more to go. Each book event has surpassed my expectations, and I’m just waiting for the other shoe to drop, to show up and find four people sitting in the audience. I feel very fortunate thus far.

6:45 – Meet the car outside. I’m in a t-shirt and jeans. Everyone else throughout the hotel is in business suits. I feel completely out of place. A black car is waiting on me. They keep the passenger seat folded forward, but there’s already a pile of legroom in these things. Bottles of water and snacks if I want them. I resist. We hit traffic, which is good. I can’t get to the airport too early. I’m live on Colorado Springs radio at 7:30.

7:30 – We stop at a hotel before the airport and shut off the car since I’ll be live. The radio host is named Tron. I’m dying to point out how perfect this is. We chat for 10 or 15 minutes. When it goes back to commercial, the driver takes me to the airport.

8:00 – My flight boards at 8:25. Enough time to hit two bookstores. The one on concourse B has 16 copies in three different places! It’s on their bestseller list at #19. I sign them all and sell one to a customer. On concourse C, I find another 6 copies and sign these. I get to the gate at 8:30, and they’re already boarding. For someone who likes to get to the gate two hours before the flight leaves, this is a jarring and stressful experience. Can’t wait to get in my seat and get some writing done.

(Left out of this account, somehow, is the interview questions I answered while eating my yogurt, pressing my t-shirt, which was crushed, chatting with my wife for fifteen minutes while she was driving to work, checking in with my dad, whom I’ll see in Denver, responding to FB messages, and checking comments on my website. It’s now 8:40, local time. Once again, I’m going to be the last person on the plane by design, which gives me time on my tethered phone to catch up with stuff like this. Finding room in the overhead bin for the bag I’m living out of for 17 days will probably be a challenge. See you in Denver).

9:00 – We’re not going to make our departure. The plane was overfilled with fuel, and we’ll be too heavy when we land. It takes an hour and a half to get the fuel truck over, only 10 minutes to unload the fuel. Maddening. I’m going to miss my livestream chat with the Wall Street Journal.

10:35 – Finally take off.

11:55 – Land. I snuck up to the front of the plane as we descended and bolt for the door, tear through the airport. Looking for a quiet place. My laptop is out and tethered to my phone. I see a charging station (laptop is low on juice), get plugged in and hooked up to Denver International WiFi. By the time I find the email and click on the link to the chat, the countdown to going live is at 42 seconds. It’s like a damn movie. I have an urge to whip out my camera and videotape the timing of it all, but I’m digging out headphones and talking to my author escort on my cell. We go on at noon.

12:42 – Should have been in my hotel for this, freshened up and on a good internet connection. As it was, I couldn’t hear the questions, relied on the WSJ staff to private message them to me and then just talk and hope I wasn’t stepping on people. We had 160 or so viewers. CJ Lyons was great. So cool to see her in person. She’s been tearing it up. And then Darcie Chan made an appearance, the rockstar that she is. I hope we can do it again and that the stream is smoother.

1:00 – Stop by Hudsons in the airport to look for stock to sign. They have Wool face out on the wall. I introduce myself. The man behind the counter flips open a plastic bin of books he’s checking in. There are THIRTY COPIES of Wool inside. Lisa slaps “Signed by the Author” stickers on the covers as I sign them. I scour the bookstore and find Wool in two other places, sign these as well. We head to the main concourse where another location has six copies to sign. And then it’s in her car and off to the hotel (I’m typing this from the front seat with my Mac on my lap).

2:00 – Met up with my father, who lives a few hours away. Feels good to be around family. We check into the hotel, I unpack, and then we head over to The Tattered Cover downtown to sign stock. There isn’t a copy of WOOL anywhere. Turns out they sent them over to the event location on Colfax. My agent’s office isn’t far away, so we head over there to visit and so my father and stepmom can meet the agency staff. Two of their dogs come to work, which makes me miss Bella something fierce.

4:15 – Back at the hotel, I get 30 minutes to lay down and close my eyes. I feel guilty doing this and leaving my dad to surf his computer, but I can feel the wall I’m running up against. And the reason I’m here hasn’t even started. This is a different sort of day, not quite as busy. There has been more running around on other day and media duties.

5:00 – Dinner with Kristin Nelson Literary Agency and family. I meet Delores in person for the first time. Delores is the reason Kristin got in touch with me. She told her daughter about WOOL back before WOOL 5 was out. Angie then read the books and raved to Kristin. Kristin finally caved. I post a picture of us together on Facebook and someone replies that this is how another book was discovered. They refer to it in the post as “The Delores Effect.” I show this to Delores and she blushes. So glad they sat us next to one another.

7:00 – The event. We get to The Tattered Cover early. I photobomb someone taking their wife’s picture beside a huge WOOL display. The husband wonders who is being so rude as to stand back there where he’s aiming the camera. Walking around and shaking hands is my favorite part of these events. Downstairs, I find that they’ve laid out a sea of chairs. People keep filing in. They break out more chairs.

7:30 – I give a talk.

7:45 – My father gets up in the middle of my talk and gives a talk.

7:50 – I give some more talk.

8:30 – The line to have books signed snakes away from my table, across the hall, and up the stairs. It looks like a George R.R. Martin line, only full of better looking people. I sign for half an hour, pose for some pictures, and admire the handful of print-on-demand books people have. The Tattered Cover presents me with a metal bookmark with my name engraved on it. They inform me that we had 130 people at the event. I’m blown away. There are two boxes of books I’ve had them set aside so I can purchase them and have them donated to schools and libraries. The release party is starting up two blocks away.

9:00 – Release party. I have half a beer and make the rounds, always feeling guilty that I’m not spending enough time with everyone. The food is amazing. Everyone seems to have a great time.

11:00 – Back to the hotel. Kristin and her husband drop me off. I catch up on email until 11:45 before passing out.

5:00 – My alarm goes off.

27 responses to “A Book Tour Day”

  1. That sounds way too stressful. You should probably just stop and go on home. :)

  2. Matthew McKinley Avatar
    Matthew McKinley

    He’s like that old US Army commercial: “Hugh Howey does more before 9am than most people do all day!”

  3. Hugh, it was great meeting you in Chicago last night. Thanks again for signing my ridiculously large stack of books! (I was the crazy guy with the UK proof set among others). I would also like to apologize again to anyone standing in line behind me :)

    If anyone out there has the ability to make one of the remaining signing events, don’t miss your chance! It’s a great time.

    1. I so wish I could! Next Wednesday Hugh will be in Seattle, a 4 hour drive away, but alas I must work Monday – Friday :( I’d get the time off but my kids have been sick so much lately that I’ve used up all of my paid time off. I will try really hard to make the next tour because Hugh has become my favorite author.

    2. Dude, it was awesome seeing you. Loved your Wool collection. This is one of the cool things about how Wool came out: for those who love the story and want to collect editions, there are a few to choose from. Your set was one of the best I’ve seen.

  4. What a whirlwind of a day, and many of them in a row! It’s got to be a rush. I wish you all the best on the rest of your tour Hugh!

  5. You’re crazy man, I love it!

  6. Hugh, you’re busier than a porter.

  7. Such a great account. Man, you pack more in before 9 a.m. than an Army recruit.

    All this is like a how-to manual on how to build readership.

    Have fun at Tattered Cover tonight. I wrote some of Columbine in that very store. (I lived about three blocks away.) I love the building–used to be a live theater. VERY friendly people. (I also did my first reading for my book at their LoDo store. They know how to put on an event. And they’ll have you sign stock for all three of their stores.)

    Very smart of you to hit all the airport stores. I STILL do that, though only the big stores carry my book, and only 1-2 copies at this point. It’s by far the most books/minutes in the early weeks, where they are heavily stocked. (Though in your case, that may go on for months or years.)

    There are also several big B&N stores in the area, BTW.

  8. Hey, my little stock-signing tip:

    Sign near the BOTTOM of the title page, instead of right under the title, which is what most people do.

    Then if someone comes to you months/years later (as they sometimes still do with me) with a signed copy–or if you’ve already signed all the copies there and you’re leaving–you can still inscribe it without the signature looking out of place above it.

    (And if you have a favorite pen like me, and bought 30 of them, so you always have one with you, you can sign in the exact same ink.)

    Hmmmmmmm. I might post this on your FB page. Maybe others can make use of it.

    It has only come into play half a dozen times for me ever, but those few people have REALLY appreciated it. And with your volume, and rabid fanbase, I have a feeling it may happen to you a lot. Each one of those copies you’re leaving behind is going to be snatched up, most will be enchanted, and someday, the holder of that book may come find you with it.

  9. You use a mac? Interesting… At least you don’t use an apple computer. Those are a pain to do tech support for.

    Sounds so hectic… How do you survive?

    1. Macs and Apples are one and the same. Best computer I’ve ever owned.

  10. I’m getting more and more tempted to drive to Charleston, but now that I know they have you at 7pm, I’ll need to get a hotel. I doubt I could handle the 4 hour drive back home!

  11. fiendish writer Avatar
    fiendish writer

    Why are you lying about Absolutewrite? You aren’t banned, and tbh, while no one was rude to you, you were pretty rude about agents and publishers.

    1. I was banned. My inbox was limited to 10 messages. I couldn’t post. Believe me, I have tried over the past year. I had to resort to sending PMs to people.

      Someone is certainly being dishonest over there. It isn’t me.

    2. @Fiendish writer, no one is lying about Absolute Write. That place is a almost a sewer of negativity. The mods are bullies. They bash self-publishing. They are so pathetic. I don’t know why writers even bother going over there- to have themselves kept in check by a bunch of bums. That’s just my personal opinion, of course. I’ve never been in trouble there or been banned, but I saw how volatile that place was and got away quick.

      Nobody is lying. Everything they say about that place is true.

  12. Man, what a hectic day. I hope you don’t have a penchant for routine (as I do)! By the time you get to Seattle next week, you’re going to be a few chits short of a dozen, ha. Good to know you’re all about physical health, too.

  13. I tried to make your Tattered Cover appearance. Work held me back… I’m happy you’re in Denver, and I hope you have a great time.

  14. Hugh, I had no intention of purchasing your book. I saw you as just a cool success story, someone that an aspiring author like myself should investigate. But then I read your blog and got a sense of who you were. It was your humility and generosity that persuaded me to order a “Wool” paperback, and I’m looking forward to reading it. Thanks for changing the game and being a cool-ass dude in the process.

  15. I enjoyed hearing you talk at the Tattered Cover in Denver tonight. You are an inspiration to everyone who wants to write a book. Can’t wait for Dust to come out!

  16. Just an Australian mum of 3 kids under 5, and I still have time some nights to read from my iPad. Found Wool on Amazon and loved it…..then saw it reviewed on TV in Sydney on the Tuesday Book Club on the ABC!!!! I was ahead of the game! Well done. Great story. Keep writing.

  17. Latest research says situps are not healthy for your lower back. You should do planks. :)

  18. I dare you to order the greek yogurt on you SF trip.

  19. I’m sure he is not lying about AbsoluteWrite. They recently posted messages insulting him that were ridiculous. They insult and belittle members over there all the time it’s a shame that a forum that attracts enough members to be interesting is run by someone so ridiculous.

    1. Yeah, I’ve been getting emails about that. It’s a shame. I would really love to be a part of that community, but even the self-publishing section isn’t a safe place to be “pro” self-publishing. I would also catch a lot of grief, I think, for being pro-Amazon.

      One thing the experience over there helped me learn (okay, two things): The way someone feels about you often says more about them than it does about you. You just have to be yourself. The second thing is this (and it’s been a massive discovery for me): The best way to handle people who hate you is to love them. I know it sounds corny, but if you are sincere about it, it works wonders. I love the people over there who have been the most cruel to me. If I met them on the street, I would ask them for a hug. It isn’t even about forgiveness, because I’m not angry in the first place. They are dealing with their own issues, and so what they have to say about me has nothing to do with me.

      (This is wisdom I learned from Michael J. Fox, and I will be forever in his debt for opening my eyes. And for making me laugh.)

  20. “The best way to handle people who hate you is to love them. I know it sounds corny, but…”–Hugh Howey.

    Hugh, do you love Old Hack from AboluteGarbageWaterCooler? Do you love that old fart? Please tell us how much you love that person. They said they were a literary agent. Bwuhahaha! An agent with all the time in the world to moderate a free, broken down site like AbolutePukeBag. They have to lie about being someone important in the real world (They think an agent is someone important in the real world). They come on Absolute each day to bully writers, especially the self published kind. I went to Absolute. I read the comments. I left. Thank you for letting me share my personal opinion here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *