I am back from book tour and it was a big success. I don’t have the final numbers yet but this appears to be by far the most successful release I’ve had yet. MHN hit #1 on all of Audible, #1 fantasy ebook on Amazon, and most importantly Nielsen Bookscan is the most accurate measurement of all books sold available and I had the #2 bestselling fantasy hard cover in the country. I owe all that to my awesome fans, and the best part of book tour is getting to see them in person.
I started out in Minneapolis and signed at Uncle Hugos. As most of you know this is the book store that gave me my big break. I love going there. Because that is the place where I steer people to for personalized autographs I usually have to do a two part signing, where I go early to personalize all the mail orders. Because you guys know I’ll write pretty much anything and even draw cartoons, there were a ton of those this year. So day one, my hand was shot. Enjoy your doodles of manatees and moose. :)
The next night was the signing at Hugos. It was standing room only and we packed the place. I was told that the only signings they’ve had with more people were Lois Bujold and Anne McCaffery, either of whom I’m happy to lose to. I got to meet a few people that I’ve known online for a long time in person, including Von Krag (who plugged me to Uncle Hugos to begin with) and Old NFO (who flew up from Virginia!)
My Minnesota fans are pretty damned hard core too.
Because of the tight timeline I was only able to spend one day at ConVergence, but I was able to visit with a bunch of people and do another signing and meet and greet. I wish I had more time there because it seemed like a really fun convention.
But duty calls and I had to catch a flight early the next morning. Sadly I wasn’t on a party floor, but the room next to me decided to throw a party anyway. No problem, head phones in, Luther soundtrack, and go to sleep, but by 3:00 AM they’d gotten progressively drunker and had one woman that laughed like a really loud barking hyena, so I went over, pounded on their door and pretended to be hotel security. That shut them right up. Yes, everybody else on that floor of the hotel, you are welcome. :)
Up next was Westercon. Sadly Delta Airlines lost my luggage so I was later than expected (this would be the first of many delays this trip!). I’m not really a Clothes Guy. Basically I go shopping once a year before book tour. Since I had 3 weeks worth of clothing in that bag I came to the sad realization as I was standing there that if that bag was gone “I don’t own any other clothes.” Luckily my bag turned up eventually, otherwise that would have gotten real interesting and I would have had to make an emergency run to the Extra Large Casual Male (best store name ever).
They had a surprise for me there too. Baen sponsored the lanyards and badges, so everybody got MHN themed lanyards.
(side note, this was particularly funny because it turns out some SMOFs on the committee threw a fit about me being a guest, because they’d bought into the nonsense narrative about me being a Hatey HateMonger. Luckily a bunch of others know the truth about me and told them to shove it)
This was really two cons in one, as the writerly WesterCon was next door to FantasyCon which was more of a media/movie/fan con. I swung by FantasyCon for a bit to visit my friends over at WordFire Press.
WesterCon was a blast. I got to hang out with many of my writer friends. I signed next to Paul Genesse and Dan Wells, and just to my other side in this pic was Brandon Sanderson (whose line filled the room). As Dan pointed out, no matter how well you are doing as an author, it is hard to feel successful when you compare yourself to Brandon. :)
Paul was all jazzed up during this because he’d just gotten done interviewing Sean Astin, John Rhys Davies, and the guy who played Gloin (drawing a blank on that actor’s name), and Paul is the biggest Tolkien nut you’ll meet. He even got Gimli and Gloin to improv out the scene where young Gimli isn’t allowed to go on the adventure from the Hobbit, and the two actors totally ran with it in character. I’m betting that’s all over YouTube by now.
This next picture is of me and author David West, and has to be included because he hadn’t gotten his badge yet but had just successfully impersonated me to bluff his way into FantasyCon. Bald with a goatee yes, but I’m guessing that wasn’t the most observant security guard ever.
Seattle was up next.
Normally when I fly into an area I’ll have a signing or two scheduled, and then I spend the rest of the time driving from one bookstore to another, meeting staff and signing store stock. I only did a little bit of that while I was in Seattle because I got to go over to my favorite mini gaming company, Privateer Press, to take a tour.
And before my fellow Warmachine nerds ask, nope, can’t tell you anything cool, because I signed an NDA. But man, they’ve got some cool stuff in the works. I ate lunch with Will, Darla, Doug, and Aeryn, then we brainstormed my next project I’m writing for them. (I listened to the audiobook of Into the Storm on my next couple of flights so I could ponder on those characters again, and it reminded me that if you’ve not listened to Into the Storm, you are missing out because it is friggin’ awesome and Ray Porter narrates the main character like he’s Frank Sinatra).
I had a good sized crowd at University Bookstore.
I had a great bunch of fans at the University Bookstore, including several guys from WeTheArmed.com. It is always good to put actual faces to internet screen names.
These young men went for the Earl Harbinger look. These two are hard core and have practically memorized MHI:
Up next was Portland, but first you have to understand that I don’t fly well. I’m a big dude who doesn’t fit in airline seats, and take offs, landings, and turbulence make me a little nauseous. I’m not afraid of flying, but it is a terribly uncomfortable experience for me and I take no pleasure in it, but it is part of the job so I suck it up and fly a lot anyway. But then I saw that I was going to be flying on this:
Then I sat down a couple feet from this:
I sent a text to Corinda, Baen’s Marketing Wizard and Tour Arranger, including these pictures and said “If I go all Buddy Holly promise to sell lots of books for my kids.”
But then the weather was wonderful, we never climbed that high so the views were great, and it was one of the smoothest and most pleasant flights I’ve had in my entire life. Way to go, Mr. Negative.
I was only in Portland for one day so I didn’t hit that many book stores, but the most important thing in Portland is the Danner Boot Factory Outlet. You’ve got to understand that us size 15 guys don’t actually get to try on shoes before we buy them like a normal person. $300 later I was back on the road.
Up next was Powell’s in Beaverton. It was another big signing and a wonderful bunch of people. We closed the place down and I still had a line.
If you go on Facebook there are tons of pictures of me posing with fans. As usual they’re old to young, male and female, all sorts of ethnic and social backgrounds, and the SJW’s mandatory “Diversity Panels” look like a Klan rally in comparison. I know that doesn’t fit the narrative about me and my fans, but maybe the Guardian is just smoking crack when they allege that I’m trying to keep sci-fi white and male?
San Francisco was my next stop.
I signed at Dark Carnival in Berkley, and the Copperfields in San Rafael and Santa Rosa. These signings were smaller than the packed ones of the last week, but by this point of the tour I was getting a little incoherent so that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. That’s the thing about book signings, one day you’ll pack a place, the next day you’ll hang out with a handful of people. You just never know what your fan base is like in any given area until you go there.
One good thing about visiting California is that it reinforces how moving away twenty years ago was a good thing for me. How can you people stand sitting in traffic like that? Holy moly. I’m a country boy at heart. Crowds mess with my calm. And I’ve still got to go to New York City this year.
Then it was off to North Carolina for ConGregate. I flew through ATL (where on time flights go to die), and my one hour layover turned into a 3 hour layover, with another hour sitting on the runway, so by the time I got in I’d missed a panel and the opening ceremonies, but at least my luggage actually made it this time so I was wearing pants.
Toni Weisskopf saw me stumble into the hotel that night and bought me a steak. I love my publisher.
This was the first year they’ve done ConGregate, so I was honored to be their writing GoH. They put on a great con.
That is a whole lot of books to sign, and that pile is only part of what I signed there. That stack was for a book seller to take to DragonCon. I didn’t get a picture of the line I had at my signing there, but it was a great turn out. I can’t imagine how many books *real* writers have to sign!
ConGregate was awesome. I went to StellerCon in the same area several years ago when I was first starting out and met a lot of the locals. It was good to see them again. Plus with my publisher and many of the Baen staff there too, they’re always fun to hang out with. Cons are the only time that I ever see the Baen folks and I really love working with them.
Sunday afternoon Steve Long ran an MHI RPG game. The seats had been auctioned off in the charity auction and I’m pretty sure we were the biggest thing on there. Next time we’ll stick them on eBay a week before and I think we could get even more money for charity. (plus I told Steve that next time I’ll GM for him so he can actually play). The game went great, with us being a bunch of gun toting, hot tempered, quick on the trigger, murder hobos, so it was very MHI appropriate.
Monday morning I got to take a tour of Speaker to Lab Animals’ laboratory. Everybody in fandom knows Speaker, and in real life he is a leading neuro scientist. We write about sci-fi, and he actually does it for a living. All I can say about his work is that it was mind blowing.
I got home late Monday night, brain dead, exhausted, and really happy to see my wife and kids.
Thanks everybody. You were fantastic.
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