Cindy asked a very good question in a comment:
don’t you have book signings to sign books that people have purchased as a way of thanking them for buying your books? I think that’s sufficient enough, don’t you? Mostly, with the wonderful world of email, if I send an email it’s thrill enough that you or webgenie Rachel respond. Sometimes books touch people and they want to reach out and ask questions because they become attached to the characters.
And of course she’s right: I’m happy to sign books for readers whenever I can. It’s a sincere compliment to know that someone might like the story so much that they would go to such trouble. I have a small collection of signed first editions, but only of books that have really meant something to me.
But tours are a complicated matter. They cost a lot of money, so the publishers aren’t wild about them. Publishing is, after all, a profit-based business. If the numbers showed that reading tours brought in hundreds of new readers, I guess the publishers might be more willing to send authors out, but the opposite is the case. I have done readings for two people, and readings for a hundred, but the average is probably thirty. Send me to ten cities to read to, say, three hundred people (many of whom are already converts and loyal readers) — you can do the arithmetic.
Reading tours are really hard on authors, too. Some authors do like them, but most don’t. You see nothing but the inside of airplanes, hotels, bookstores, and book warehouses. You might do a couple radio interviews, or a couple interviews with journalists, you might just run from bookstore to bookstore. There’s no time to think, much less write, so by the time you get home, whatever writing momentum you had is gone.
I am very thankful to my readers, really I am, and the best way to show my appreciation (as I see it) is to put everything I’ve got into writing the next one.
And by the way: made excellent progress this week, on both novels in progress.