Back in January, my editor Kerri Kolen phoned me one morning to tell me that Simon & Schuster would be sending me out on a pre-pub tour in March. They wanted to introduce me to booksellers in San Francisco and Los Angeles.
At the time, I didn’t know what a pre-pub tour was; I knew of course, about regular author tours, having gone to my share of readings. But apparently pre-pub tours gave authors a chance to meet with bookstore managers and owners, in the hopes of stirring good buzz for a book that the publisher has high hopes for.
So two weeks ago, during a week off of teaching, I went to the Bay Area for the first in my two-city pre-pub tour. In San Francisco, I checked into the Hotel Rex, which greeted me with its 1930s artist’s studio vibe, and quotations painted on the walls from the likes of Jack London. After a quick shower and stroll around Union Square, Cheri Hickman, a sales rep for the publisher, picked me up for the dinner.
We arrived at Radius in SOMA amidst a sudden, torrential rain, and the maitre d’ directed us to the back of the restaurant, where a mini-reception was taking place. There, I met Wendy Sheanin, the Director of Marketing of Adult Fiction for Simon & Schuster, for the first time. Next to a long table (photo above), the waiters served chardonnay and clams. The atmosphere was classy but cozy; the table was set apart from the rest of the restaurant, in essentially a private room, and if you looked in only one direction, you could pretend you were in someone’s house in the French countryside.
At dinner, I sat between Elaine Petrocelli, of Book Passage, and Melissa Mytinger, of The Booksmith & Berkeley Arts & Letters–I ended up spending most of the evening talking to them. The young waiter, Fred, had a thick French accent, and great enthusiasm. He reminded me of that Henri Cartier Bresson photograph of the boy smiling proudly as he carries two bottle of wine. He would’ve been someone like Fred when he grew up.
Everyone, except for Pete Mulvihill of Green Apple and I, chose the lamb–Pete and I opted for the trout. (We were also the only ones to choose the float for dessert later on; surely that counts as meeting cute?) When the lamb–sumptuous, served on a skillet–arrived, I realized I’d made a mistake. At that point, Elaine Petrocelli discreetly cut up a small slice of her lamb and placed it on my appetizer plate.
I also got to meet Calvin Crosby, of Books, Inc., Jessica Heywood of A Great, Good Place for Books, and Michael Barnard of Rakestraw. The dinner, to my surprise, lasted three hours, though it felt like much less. As we left the restaurant, the owner asked me how I’d enjoyed myself, and I said I’d enjoyed myself very much.