Getting ready for a 45-day day book tour is no small matter. Being away from my office and on the road for that long requires total organization and preparation. Since I've never done 45 days on the road, I had to think it all through. I want to make sure everything is "business as usual." I don't want my clients and authors to be distressed over any apparent perception of "absence." So, for you seasoned business travelers, you may not feel inspired by what I am going to share about organization for a road show. For the rest of you the information may come in handy.
Here are some fabulous tips on how to organize a very long promotional book tour!
Tip #1: Think ahead and remember the details -- really consider all things required to be functional on the road. Since a laptop is an obvious must, don't forget all the necessary equipment such as battery recharger. You don't want to get stuck in Winnemuca, Nevada and realize you forgot your charger. First, you won't find an Office Max or Staples nearby. I once forgot my charger and fortunately ended up at a Radio Shack, but unfortunately paid a premium for a charger. So make sure you bring detailed items like batteries, charger, pens and pencils, notepad (yes some of us still write). Even something as simple and useful as your calendar, because I personally feel lost without my calendar in front of me.
Tip #2: Inventory -- make sure if you're selling a product, you have ordered the appropriate amount of inventory to sell. Make sure you order it ahead of time lest you find yourself at a Fed-X store location to pick up orders. You will also spend a premium to ship anything via Fed-X, so try and think about a month out and order your inventory well advance of your trip to ensure you've padded the time for any snafus. The same goes for your marketing materials. We ordered business cards, bookmarks, banners and magnets to advertise the book Vengeance is Now and my company 3L Publishing on the side of the RV. We placed the order weeks in advance to ensure it arrived on time.
Tip #3: Use an RV -- an RV in some ways is expensive. You have to pay the rental on the RV. You have to pay gas. You have to pay to camp in some places (although Walmart allows you to park in their lot free of charge). But when you're going with another person, it's very economical. You can buy groceries and cook meals. You always have a place to sleep. You don't have to pay for two separate hotel rooms. You don't have to pay to eat in restaurants. You don't have to pay expensive airfare. The cost-benefit analysis you do (which you should do) will reveal a much cheaper alternative to air travel. And better yet, you will get to see everything at ground level, which is far more interesting than gazing at it from above.
Tip #4: Make a list. Make sure you make a comprehensive list of your needs. Take the list and pack accordingly. Check off everything on your list. A totally thorough packing job means no extra, unexpected expenses on the road. Make sure you think of everything it would take to live in a small house, which is what an RV is. Our list included food, condiments, towels, coffee maker (oh no, we're not going without our magic "elixir"), toaster (yes, you need to toast your bagels, too), pots and pans, and basic cleaning products.
Tip #5: Before you leave ... personal stuff must be attended to. Make sure you pay all your bills or bring with you payment information. I can't tell you how many times I've been absurdly told, "I forgot to pay because I was on vacation." Well, that is nice for you, but not so nice for me since my bills still had to be paid. Personal grooming (which you know matters) appointments -- hair-color update and facial waxing for me LOL. Now you're thinking, "Pah, who cares?" Well, I am going to care when my eyebrows look like two dark caterpillars and my dark roots are showing -- AND I have to attend a party in New York City. So, remember to attend to the personal stuff with trusted providers. I'm certainly not going to hit some random salon in Mississippi and walk away with blue instead of blond hair.