When I started my book our for Slow Regard, I had high hopes of writing a few blogs while I was on the road.
Nothing big. Just little posts where I would mention some of the fun things that happened on each particular night. Maybe post a picture or two. Maybe if I was really ambitious, I’d put a cap on some of the blogs I had mostly done.
But no. Eventually, I will learn the truth: I cannot write a blog when I’m touring.
So here’s some highlights:
Believe it or not, my signing tour actually started *before* my book came out.
As many of you know, Worldbuilders tried an experimental mid-year fundraiser last year. We ran an Indiegogo for a week and raised over $200,000 dollars.
Among other things, we gave people the chance to pre-order of signed copies of The Slow Regard of Silent Things. And in three days we sold about 1600 of them.
I wanted to make sure those folks got their books as close to the book release as possible. So in the week leading up to my tour, I signed about 2000 books.
Believe it or not, that wasn’t the hard part. The hard part was bubble-wrapping, boxing, addressing, and shipping those packages.
You don’t really understand how many 1600 packages are until you see them all in one place. Those shelves up there are stacked three deep, and there are other shelves I’m not showing you here.
Despite the tight timeline, the Worldbuilders team pulled it off. All the packages were shipped off the Monday before the book release.
I’m really proud of the fact. This was our first kickstarter-ish project, an experiment that was vastly more successful than any of us had hoped. I think it says a lot about my team that they put in the extra hours and made sure everything shipped on time so y’all could get your books in a timely fashion.
- Opening Night: Portland.
Not only was this the first day of my book’s launch. This was my first-ever ticketed event that wasn’t a team-up with Paul and Storm.
The thought of selling tickets to my events seems strange to me. It offends my egalitarian sensibilities. But the simple fact is that you can’t fit 600 people into a bookstore. And even if you could, they couldn’t all hear me do my reading, or see me, or have seats.
So Powells arranged for a venue, and 800 people paid to come out and see me.
— Powell’s Books (@Powells) October 29, 2014
It was a posh venue. Ushers and balconies and a delightful sound system. If I’d had my act together, I would have taken a picture of the crowd that showed up. But I didn’t, because I even think of it.
The Doubleclicks where there to open for me, and they rocked the house. I got misty when they sang “Wonder” like I always do. Then they invited me out to play the cat keyboard during the chorus of “I love you like a Burrito.”
Here’s the thing, we planned it before hand. I practiced a couple of times. I went so far as to number the keys on the cat-keyboard.
But I still screwed it up. More than once. Every time, in fact. On every chorus.
It was a great time.
The signing afterwards was lovely, and I was joined by Nathan Taylor, the dashing artist who illustrated the book. Unfortunately, because I’m an idiot, I forgot to mention him to the crowd beforehand.
People brought me art. People brought me hugs. People brought me pie.
The next day I stole the fancy soaps from the hotel and it was off to….
- San Diego:
The thing I remember most was that there was a really cute baby in the front row. Before my reading I talked to him for a bit, and when he reached for me, his mom let me hold him for a couple minutes. Thank you, baby mom. That meant a lot to me.
There were some awesome D&D players there who asked me geeky questions. They reminded me of me when I was their age.
And this happened.
That’s right, they’re all wearing cloaks. They all came to the signing from the same college where they have a book club. They call themselves “The Scrivs.”
It doesn’t get much better than that.
This was another ticketed event, and another 800 people or so showed up. It was in a church across the street from the University Bookstore.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t until I was already there that I realized it would be really funny to go in with a bunch of dry ice hidden under my clothes then cuss a lot and pretend to catch fire. Maybe next time.
The fabulous Molly Lewis opened for me, but I didn’t try to sing with her, as I’ve already screwed that up once before. (I’m pretty sure there’s a video out there of me making a hash of Tom Lehrer’s Elements with her.)
I also learned that Molly is doing a musical called ThanksGiving Vs. Christmas.
If you live near Seattle and don’t go to it, you probably really need to examine what you’re doing with your life. Seriously.
My friend, illustrator and frequent collaborator Nathan Taylor was at this event too, as Seattle is close to home for him. And in a blithering display of lame, I forget to mention it to the crowd a second time.
In an attempt to make it up to him, I’ll mention the kickstarter he just launched.
As for my reading and Q&A, I can’t remember much of what I said. But I do know that I talked about feminism a bit, and at one point I held forth about the several ways that Frogger was sexist.
I felt pretty stupid about that afterwards, until a guy in the signing line said, “I’d never really thought about sexism in games before. But you’re right. Frogger is sexist. That’s kinda fucked up.”
So I’m counting that as a win.
At this point I’m four days and four cities into the tour. I’m getting around 3-5 hours of sleep a night with supplementary naps on planes and in cars.
Because of that, I remember less and less of the events. I know it was Halloween in Milwaukee, but I can’t bring to mind the costumes except that someone came as Batman.
The other thing I remember is that in the signing line, someone told me that their creative writing teacher required them to go to a reading as part of their class, but that my reading didn’t count, because I wrote fantasy.
I had her record a video where I voice my opinion on the matter.
Here’s the video. It isn’t entirely safe for work, as I remember saying the word “Bullshit” about seven or eight times.
Then onward to…
The cafe attached to Joseph Beth bookstore changed their menu for the day of my event:
I’m proud of my addition: the Damfine Apple Pie.
We had about 600 people show up, including two gender-swapped Kvothe cosplayers showed up. That’s never happened before.
People brought me wine and wizard hats, and after the signing I had dinner with Peter Segal and some new friends.
Other than that, all I can remember is that this was actually in a town called Skokie.
Skokie. It sounds like an adorable animal sidekick from a Disney film.
- St. Louis: (Fenton)
The last stop of the tour. It might be unfair to call me a shambly mess, but it wouldn’t entirely be untrue.
Some of my friends who live in the area turned up at the signing, and it almost made me weepy. These are the old friends, the ones I’ve known since college. The people that have known me most of my adult life.
I haven’t been a very good friend over the last five years. My life has upheaved several times in several different ways, and I’ve been endlessly busy with one thing and another. All of that has turned my ordinary bumbling forgetfulness into complete isolationist non-communication that sometimes lasts for years.
Despite this, some of my friends drove miles and miles to visit me. They stood in line for hours. They brought me food and presents. They are better than I deserve.
- The Reviews:
The best part of hitting a different city every day for a book tour is that I was too busy to obsess about reviews. And when I got home, I was mostly too tired to care anymore if people hated it.
Besides, I’d already heard from many of my readers that they loved the book.
Some of them on my blog:
“Thank you for giving me a moment of connectedness. Thank you for helping me love (just a little bit) a piece of myself that I’ve always hated.”
Some on twitter:
hey @PatrickRothfuss – I just finished the audiobook. Way to make me cry! 10/10 will listen/read again.
— mfkennedy (@mfkennedy) October 30, 2014
(And apparently I’m some kind of sadist, because when people read my book and cry, I feel strangely proud.)
People have also forwarded very nice reviews written by people I respect.
Like this one from NPR titled: Slow Regard is a riddle wrapped in a Mystery Living in an Underground Tunnel.
Some people don’t like the book. Or they were expecting something else. There’s a delightful blog about the book called: “This Pretzel is the Worst Lasagna Ever” where they discuss the problem of reader expectation in a wonderfully ridiculous way. Another blog dealt with the same issue with considerably more snark.
Generally speaking, I don’t go looking for bad reviews. I’ve been down that road, and I don’t plan on traveling it again. Besides, I already knew people wouldn’t like this book. I said as much in the author’s forward. And I knew people would be pissed that it wasn’t book three because I have the ability to see into the future and read people’s minds.
When writing The Name of the Wind, I decided I’d rather write a book some people love and other people hate, rather than write a book that everyone thought was pretty much okay. That seems to be what I’ve done here. So I’m happy.
I’m pretty happy with taking second place after Grisham.
To all of you that came, if we had a moment during my tour and it wasn’t mentioned here, don’t take it the wrong way. I had so much fun with all of you. I appreciate the gifts, the hugs, and the thousand small kindnesses you have shown me. But this blog is already ridiculously long, and I have to wrap things up.
Stay beautiful, my people,
P.S. Stay tuned for the big launch of Worldbuilders on Monday. It’s going to be awesome this year.