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Guest post: Beth Hoffman

January 27, 2011

I was lucky enough to get to meet Beth Hoffman last year, during her book tour for Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, and enjoy chatting with her on Twitter.  Beth is so gracious and supportive of bloggers and other authors.  I saw her recent tweets about the rigors of a book tour fascinating and asked if she would consider writing a post about it and she graciously agreed.  I’m thrilled to welcome Beth here today!

The first time I heard the words “book tour” I was clueless what lay ahead. The day I received my tour itinerary, I stared at the list of flights, connections, media escorts, and hotels, wondering how I’d survive such a schedule. But more than anything, I worried about what I’d say to the audiences, and worse—what if nobody came to hear me speak?

When I arrived at my first event and saw nearly 100 people waiting, my mind went blank. But I slapped a smile on my face, stood at the podium, and ended up telling my story—the story of how I became a novelist. Turns out it’s the best thing I could have done.

When Kathy asked me to share what a book tour is like, the words exhausting and thrilling came to mind. But above all, it’s a privilege. People have made plans to spend an afternoon or evening with me. Many of them have purchased a ticket to hear me speak.

Me?

I still can’t get over it.

Sadly, few authors have the opportunity to go on tours, let alone those that are extensive. By the time the tour ends in February, I will have conducted a whopping total of 42 events that have taken me all over the USA. Though the schedule is often grueling, most of the hotels are so gorgeous that they make up for the fatigue. Case in point is the lobby of the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee.

A typical day begins with a mad rush to shower, pack, and try to find something on the hotel menu that’s gluten-free (I have celiac disease), and then get to the lobby where a media escort is waiting to whisk me to the airport. Then there’s dealing with TSA, finding my gate, and hoping the person sitting next to me on the flight isn’t doused in heavy perfume or wants to tell me their problems. I once pretended I was hearing impaired. Seriously. Lord forgive me, but I just couldn’t help it!

When the plane lands, I find baggage claim and look for a person holding my book; this is my escort. We head for the hotel where I order room service, and this meal often becomes lunch and dinner. There’s little time—only a few hours to check emails, take another shower, change clothes, and get back to the lobby for the escort to take me to the event. Sometimes there’s even a radio interview packed into that small timeframe.

Each event is different and each audience has its own unique energy. I never know what to expect with the exception of this: a miraculous shot of adrenalin kicks in when I see the people waiting—book-loving folks who genuinely enjoy getting lost in a well-told story.

When the microphone is in place, I give my talk—none of it rehearsed. After a lively Q&A, I sign books and chat with the attendees for a few minutes before my escort returns me to the hotel where early the next morning it all begins again.

Among the very first book bloggers I met was Kathy. And the minute I saw her it was like we’d known each other for years. The luncheon event, which was held in Greenville, SC and sponsored by Jill Hendrix of Fiction Addiction, was among the most memorable of my tour. Kathy, Jill and all the attendees made me feel so welcome, I swear it was like a pajama party for grown ups. By the time it was over we all needed tissues and had laughed ourselves sick.

I’ve met many gals from book clubs, lots of librarians, and scores of aspiring writers. More than once I’ve forgotten where I was and where I was headed. And yes, it’s true that I had a mini meltdown at the Atlanta airport after 32 hours of no sleep. There are times when no amount of concealer can hide the stains of blue beneath my eyes, but the show always goes on. And the reason it does is the people who have touched my life and given me more than I could have possibly dreamed.

I’ve laughed and cried and danced my way across the USA, and whenever I think I won’t be able to get on another plane or pack my suitcase one more time, I remind myself of this:

“There’s only one thing more frightening than being asked to do a book tour, and that’s not being asked to do a book tour.”—Gerald Petievich

For tour dates and information on Beth’s novel, visit her website: www.BethHoffman.net





53 Comments leave one →
  1. January 27, 2011 5:04 am

    I loved that book. It is a pleasure to read this post. Thanks!

  2. January 27, 2011 5:30 am

    What a great post….I loved her book.

    THANKS.

  3. January 27, 2011 5:42 am

    It’s always so exciting to meet up with authors and fellow bookbloggers! Thanks for sharing, Kathy!

  4. January 27, 2011 7:17 am

    So, what I am understanding is a horribly grueling schedule, and I still see Beth tweeting and commenting on blogs? This woman is a goddess. A very warm-hearted, sincere goddess. She so deserves every bit of success. Thanks for giving us a treat this morning Kathy!!!

    • January 27, 2011 9:58 pm

      I was going to say the same thing! It’s so cool to see Beth popping up around the blogosphere.

  5. January 27, 2011 7:32 am

    Doing a book tour must feel like the movie “Groundhog’s Day”! I’m so glad you stayed at the Pfister while in my area, Beth. It is a beautiful (landmark) hotel. My mom, sisters and I stayed there for a girls’ weekend several years ago.
    It was wonderful to meet you last November (at Next Chapter) 🙂

  6. January 27, 2011 8:11 am

    Great post Beth. Thanks for arranging it Kathy. It sounds both exhilarating and exhausting, but I love hotel rooms. That might make it all worth it.

  7. January 27, 2011 8:15 am

    I didn’t realise how gruelling it would be.
    In England, the authors don’t really do big tours and I do think they should. I think it is nice for the fans to speak to the authors.

  8. January 27, 2011 9:44 am

    So I’m not the only one who usually sits next to the gabbiest person on the plane when I travel. That’s one of the many reasons I hate to fly. This post is delightful. I wish we had more author events in my area but Binghamton, NY doesn’t seem to be on the radar for publishers.

  9. January 27, 2011 9:50 am

    I loved this post. Of course, I also loved Beth’s book and told everyone I knew about it. Beth, you are truly amazing and I understand that another book is in the works! Yea!

    Kathy, thanks for asking Beth to share her schedule with us.

  10. January 27, 2011 10:09 am

    First, a big thank you to Kathy for her getting Beth to guest post. Second, thank you to Beth not only for guest posting and telling us about what a frightfully busy but amazingly exciting event a book tour must be but mostly thank you for your wonderful, amazing, magical book. There aren’t words to tell you how much I loved it. After I read it I called and emailed everyone in my book club and made them stop reading our original book so we could discuss CeeCee. What a gift you gave me and others. If I could ask one selfish favor (though I’m sure there are others who will appreciate it, too) would you mind locking yourself away and writing another book a.s.a.p.? I need another book from you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    Thanks again Kathy for giving us all the chance to tell Beth how much we love her.

  11. January 27, 2011 10:56 am

    This was such a great post, and from the way that Beth describes it, it’s exhausting, exhilarating and somewhat of a whirlwind! I am glad that you got the opportunity to become friends with her, Kathy, and I have to agree that when anyone meets you, it’s like they have known you for their whole lives. I do have Saving CeeCee Honeycutt and my shelves, and now would be the perfect time to take it down!

  12. January 27, 2011 10:59 am

    I love Beth and CeeCee and I can’t wait for her next book! She’s just a tremendous person!

  13. January 27, 2011 11:01 am

    Beth is always so gracious and lovable via email and twitter. I adore her writing…and Saving CeeCee was one of my favorite books last year. I encourage everyone to read it.

    Book tours sound exhausting, but meeting all those people who love to read would be a dream.

  14. January 27, 2011 11:27 am

    Great post! Thanks for sharing the whirlwind life of a touring author with the rest of us 🙂

  15. January 27, 2011 11:37 am

    Thanks for sharing what a book tour is like! I love that
    your escort holds a copy of your book: it’s genius!

  16. January 27, 2011 11:45 am

    Thank you so much Beth nd Kathy for this wonderful post! Touring certainly sounds thrilling, exhausting and amazing! Thank goodness you stay in such nice hotels, hopefully you get a little pampering along the way!

    It sounds nerve-wracking to me to get up and talk to a big group, at least until you start talkingand people in the audience smile and nod (hopefully!). I am so impressed, Beth, that you don’t plan what you are going to say. I find that refreshing too. Thank you.

    I imagine it’s difficult to find things to eat with celiac disease. I have a friend who has it, her purse is filled with snacks! Menus are a bit of a nightmare, though! God bless you for doing all the touring when dealing with this. That you say it’s a privelege to tour makes sense to me that you are the woman who wrote the wonderful book Saving Cee-Cee Honeycutt. Thank you :o) I’m glad you have fun at most of the stopr and meet wonderful people.

    I totally understand pretending you’re hearing impaired on the plane…those seats are so close together and some people don’t understand the concept of personal space let along not sharing their life story with everyone! lol You have to keep your sanity!
    ~ Amy

  17. January 27, 2011 11:52 am

    I very much enjoyed reading about your book tour experiences! It sounds exhausting but fun (other than that pesky public speaking thing).

    For the plane ride I’d advise taking along something with headphones and then apologize to the person who’s trying to chat on and on, saying something like, “I’m so sorry, but I need to listen to this.” 🙂

  18. novelwhore permalink
    January 27, 2011 11:59 am

    Beth, when the people on the plane talk to you do you ever mention that you’re a NYT-bestselling author in the midst of a book tour?! If my seat neighbor said that I don’t know if I would shut up in awe or pepper them with questions. I like to think I’d be cool and calm, but who knows.

    Kathy, thanks for sharing this great post and I hope to meet both you and Beth in the future!

  19. January 27, 2011 12:43 pm

    Great post 🙂
    And I promise to read this book one day, one day

  20. January 27, 2011 1:55 pm

    My mother LOVED this book and has been recommending it to me… now I want to read it even more! Very fun to get to see inside an author’s head. 🙂

  21. January 27, 2011 2:10 pm

    What a fun look into the day and weeks and months of a book tour! I’ve only been to a handful of author events locally but would really like to being going to more in the future–I’m always a bit surprised that there don’t seem to be any other bloggers in the Dallas area. Surely I’m not the only one.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences and I feel for you with the mini-breakdown in Atlanta. With all the ups of the tour, there must be the inevitable downs.

  22. Beth Hoffman permalink
    January 27, 2011 2:16 pm

    Thank you all for stopping by! I’m really tickled by your comments. And to answer a few questions:

    Yes, a new novel is in the works. The title is Looking For Me. It’s very different from CeeCee’s story and weaves a tale of a young woman who travels between two very different worlds (a hardscrabble family farm near the mysterious Red River Gorge of KY and a high-end antique shop Charleston, SC).

    I’ve not recently told anyone on airplanes that I’m a NYTimes bestselling author; I only did that once, and the flight attendant made an announcement about my book over the intercom (which made my cheeks color up)! But that sweet flight attendant, whose name is Nancy, ended up buying my book, reading it, and then emailing me. It was very touching.

    I’ve had the pleasure of meeting so many of you in person, and I hope someday I have the opportunity to meet many, many more. Thanks again for your many kindnesses and all your support!

  23. January 27, 2011 2:26 pm

    I can’t help but love the pretending you were hearing impaired Beth! And I have to say I adore you for it! Karen would say you were practicing good self-care! Anyway, I love it and I loved getting more of a perspective on touring 🙂

  24. January 27, 2011 2:31 pm

    “Saving CeeCee Honeycutt” is on my to-read pile, and I’m definitely going to have to bump it up after reading your wonderful piece on Beth. I’m so glad she appreciates book bloggers like you, Bermudaonion. What a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at a successful author on a book tour. Thank you for sharing Beth’s thoughts with us.

  25. January 27, 2011 2:34 pm

    Wonderful guest post! I still have not read this book, but I hope to read it soon. 🙂

  26. Diane@BibliophileBytheSea permalink
    January 27, 2011 2:54 pm

    Loved this novel and the author seems so genuine. Looking
    forward to a second book. Great photos Kathy

  27. January 27, 2011 3:18 pm

    What a great post. It’s interesting to see the author’s point of view. “Exhausting and thrilling” does seem to sum it up.

  28. stacybuckeye permalink
    January 27, 2011 4:09 pm

    Great post by a fun and gracious author! I’ve had melt downs at airports and can’t use no sleep as an excuse!

  29. January 27, 2011 4:20 pm

    Kathy and Beth,

    A pairing of two of my favorite people. Thank you for the guest blog. It made me smile, knowing how wonderful Beth is in front of an audience, and how tired she gets from the traveling. But, I’m like Martha. I should probably stop writing to you so you sit down and work on the next book, Beth. We’re all anxious to read it.
    Hugs to both of you,
    Lesa (www.lesasbookcritiques.blogspot.com)

  30. January 27, 2011 6:58 pm

    what a wonderful post! I can’t imagine touring THAT much and being the only author too. I’d much rather go on a book tour with at least ONE other author so I’m not alone. But it is true…it would be such an honor just to get the chance to tour because not all authors get too.

  31. January 27, 2011 7:17 pm

    Whew…you made me tired just reading about a day in the life of a published author’s book tour! So glad that you have had the chance to tour and can’t wait to read what you have in store for us next!

  32. January 27, 2011 9:04 pm

    What struck me the most is how down to earth Beth is…loved this post and the inside glimpse into her crazy touring world. I would love to one day meet her because I just read Saving Cee Cee on Sunday. I read it in one sitting and fell in love with the women in her book!!!

  33. January 27, 2011 9:46 pm

    None of it rehearsed!?!? Yowza. Great post!

  34. January 27, 2011 10:23 pm

    I so enjoyed reading what it’s really like on a book tour. Thanks Kathy for asking Beth. You are so right about her being a gracious lady, just like Aunt Tootie. Can’t wait to read her next book. It sounds wonderful.

  35. January 27, 2011 10:31 pm

    kathy, what a terrific guest post and question! i adore beth and her novel and love that she really connects with her readers and bloggers. i’m looking forward to many great things from beth and hope to read something new soon! 🙂

  36. January 28, 2011 4:49 am

    What an awesome guest post. Beth Hoffman is so modest. I enjoyed reading about how a book tour is and it’s really exhausting.

  37. January 28, 2011 7:00 pm

    I was honored to meet Beth a year ago in Ohio on her book tour. She truly is gracious and heartfelt and a fabulous speaker and writer! I adored CeeCee and I had my book club read it the next month! Beth, thanks for being so supportive to bloggers and readers of your book. It was fascinating to take a peak into the life of a book tour. It sounds rewarding and exhausting. You have a wonderful sense of humor as well. I can’t wait to read your next book!!

  38. January 29, 2011 7:03 am

    What a fabulous post, Beth. I can only imagine how exhausting being on tour could be, but when you get to meet great people (like Kathy), then it has to be worth it. And I learned something else . . . I’ve never tried the fake hearing impaired trick on an airplane, but now I’m adding that to my arsenal of coping mechanisms. LOL.

  39. January 29, 2011 10:23 am

    Fantastic! I just love Beth and need to check out her schedule to see when and if she will be in Minnesota!

    Kathy what a great idea for an interview – I loved reading about what a book tour is like!

  40. January 29, 2011 12:41 pm

    We love love love you Beth. You are such a doll to meet and so fun to listen too.
    I know (well not personally know) but I can tell a tour can get to you. I am sure you are excited to meet people that love CeeCee and you, but I also know how relaxing it can be to be in the safety and comfort of home.

    Love ya and can’t wait to see you again..
    Ranay

  41. January 29, 2011 12:50 pm

    Thank you for sharing, Beth. At the moment I am terrified
    but I am so glad you said you do not rehearse. For some reason I am
    always a better speaker when I wing it.

  42. January 29, 2011 1:05 pm

    What a lovely post and what a blessing to have so many
    fans. I read CeeCee’s story early last year and fell in love with
    both the story and Beth’s deeply textured writing style. On top of
    being a talented writer, she’s one of the kindest people I’ve had
    the pleasure of meeting on Twitter. No ego. She’s the real-deal.
    Really looking forward to her next book. Thank you so much for the
    educational and eye-opening post! : )

  43. January 29, 2011 3:55 pm

    Thanks for your inside perspective of an author book tour – “laughed, cried, and danced….” Keep dancing, and let those tears be from laughing so hard!

  44. January 29, 2011 4:49 pm

    I laughed myself to bits over Beth’s comment on “pretending to being hearing impaired”. That was so funny and the scenes of anguish to finding a airplane seat mate without overpowering perfume or a “talker” made me smile even more. Hmmmm the terrors of the unknown is part of the package but the rewarding fans make it all worth it by Beth’s account. Loved the post and thank you for sharing the frenzy of book tours. Thanks Kathy for bringing Beth to this corner of the world 🙂

  45. January 29, 2011 6:44 pm

    Wow, what a terrific post about the joys (and stress!) of a
    book tour. I adore your honest telling of it, Beth, and wish I
    could have been lucky enough to catch you on your last tour. Hoping
    you make it up to Seattle for your next book/tour! It would be such
    an honor to meet your lovely self! xoxo (Kathy, thanks for having
    Beth on your terrific blog–fun to see that you got to meet her
    too!)

  46. January 29, 2011 9:52 pm

    What a fun post to read! i feel like I have a taste of what life ona book tour is like. Thanks for sharing.

  47. January 30, 2011 1:58 am

    Highly entertaining and insightful post. I was fortunate
    enough to get to know Beth, and read her captivating novel early
    last year. The past few months Beth has shown her remarkable
    character, intelligence, and wit. I strongly believe, Saving CeeCee
    Honeycutt will become an American classic; it is that good. Thank
    you for sharing

  48. January 30, 2011 7:05 pm

    Hi Kathy. This is so good! I must get that book. I must. Hello to Beth too. 🙂

  49. January 31, 2011 6:23 pm

    Thank you Kathy for inviting Beth to be a guest and thank you Beth for enlightening all of us about what it’s like to be an author on the road, promoting your book! I have a whole new appreciation for the process now. It sounds exhausting!

  50. Beth Hoffman permalink
    January 31, 2011 7:18 pm

    I am shocked and delighted that so many of you stopped by and took the time to leave a message! See … this is why the fatigue of a tour is so worth it … because I have the rare opportunity to meet people such as you!

    Thank you all so much. I’m so glad Kathy invited me to guest blog!

  51. February 1, 2011 11:02 pm

    So great to get this behind the scenes view of life as a writer. I’ll now have an even greater appreciation for those authors I go see, knowing what kind of a day they’ve probably already had just for me to get to see them!

  52. February 2, 2011 11:08 am

    I just love Beth. She really seems to enjoy what she does, and I love how friendly she is to bloggers.

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