Nine weeks of touring
May warm your heart but fuck up your body
Going on a book tour, in my mind, was going to be a fantastically quaint and once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Growing up in the 90s I do think I always wanted to be a writer of some kind, and I knew that bookstores had events. I think this is the plot of You’ve Got Mail (I haven’t seen it) ? Now in 2023, these tours are just about barely worth doing — from a commercial perspective, that is. You are probably going to move more units sitting in a dark bedroom and going on every single podcast and YouTube show that will have you. A bookstore talk is never going to net you more than a few dozen sales.
You do it for other reasons. And I can say, even as I am reeling from a perhaps-inevitable sickness that floored me after nine weeks of touring, that it was very worth it. You get to meet real people, actual readers, and have real conversations about the work. You have an excuse to force writers and thinkers you admire to read your book, and come up with questions and commentary (this seemed like a fun thing to do - please feel free to ask me to moderate your book launches in the future). Remarkably, every event was full, and I don’t think anyone asked anything unfair or insane. It just took a toll on my body. You have to move around quite a lot, stay focused, and try your hardest not to disappoint anyone.
So the important thing was to recognize, as all of this was happening, that it was actually happening. That no matter what else happens in my life or career, people actually came out to see me talk about a book, and that it happened in New York — Philadelphia — Baltimore — Washington DC — Boston — Boston — Chicago — Berkeley — Los Angeles — London — Bristol — Manchester — London — Lisbon — Berlin — and Dublin. Why did I assume this would be a “once-in-a-lifetime” adventure? In this game, it’s safe to assume that this book or journalism job will be your last, that you will get fired or cancelled and that in five years you will have to do something else entirely. If this is all I ever got to do while living as a writer, it would be plenty.
First, I am writing to say that I am grateful to everyone that has come to an event. I am truly honored. Second, I want to thank everyone who moderated, organized, or participated. And to recommend them to you. So please, check out the work of: Krithika Varagur (her first book is on Saudi global influence); Nazia Kazi (she may have an exciting new project to announce soon); Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò (I just finished the great Elite Capture); Fernando Bizzarro and Mohamed Ali Kadivar; Asha Ransby-Sporn and In These Times Magazine; Daniel Aldana Cohen (and A Planet to Win); Jollene Levid and Kanlungan; Yara Rodrigues Fowler (my praise is on the back of her latest, there are more things); Bookhaus and Darran McLaughlin; Partisan Collective and Jack Chadwick; Lalel Khalili (I just picked up Sinews of War and Trade); Revista Setenta e Quatro and João Biscaia; Bloque Latinoamericano (that is their flag above, on the wall before our event in Berlin); and Rosana Pinheiro-Machado (I recommend Amanhã Vai Ser Maior first, but that’s in Portuguese, and there is a lot more).
As for me I am definitely not done promoting this thing. (Feel free to buy it for all your friends and family for Christmas!) Links for purchase in various countries, as well as any more events that I may add to the calendar, are at www.ifweburn.com. Sincerely, thank you to everyone