Friday, June 29, 2001

American Gods Blog, Post 100

You`re probably thinking to yourself, I wonder where he is now? That one's easy. He's typing this in a train on the way from San Diego to Los Angeles. Which means that by the time he posts this, he'll be in his room in his hotel in LA.

And you may be wondering, I wonder how he's holding up? And the answer is, Okay, all things considered. Tired on a short of sleep sort of level, tired on a cellular level, much crankier than is my - his - sod it, we're back into the first person - my usual wont.

The hotel in San Francisco didn't help.

If they can, when travel agencies book authors into hotels, they put them into good, solid, businessy hotels, or sometimes into really good hotels. There are a couple of hotels (there's one in Portland for example) that are particularly keen on touring authors, and greet you with copies of your book to sign for their library.

And if you've got the kind of author who may not be eating until back in his hotel room very late, you make sure that the hotel has overnight room service.

For reasons no-one understands, I wound up in a little tourist hotel in the Japanese district of San Francisco. It wasn't the kind of place that had overnight room service. It wasn't the kind of place where the concierge would let you know that you had had six boxes of books to sign delivered to your room. For that matter, it wasn't the kind of place where, once they'd agreed that the books existed and would be delivered to your room, they actually bothered to deliver them to your room.

Also, it was an additional 15-25 minutes away from everywhere we needed to go, and when your day is running to the minute, the hour you can lose getting to and from the hotel comes out of sleep time.

This was particularly frustrating to Ellen Fishman, who was my author escort.

I know I meant to write about Author Escorts before, and have indeed mentioned them in passing. But I should probably explain them a bit more before continuing.

In the UK, if a publisher sends an author on tour, they often send a publicity person with them. Most of the publicity people are attractive young women, and there's not one of them that won't tell you horror stories of the time that author X or celebrity Y, who they were accompanying around the country at the time, decided that the real reason the publisher had sent an attractive young lady on tour with them was for purposes of sexual relief. After a glass or two of wine at the end of a long day's signing and interviewing, they'll even name names.

In the US, when a publisher sends an author on tour, they contract out their care to an Author Escort. Every city has one agency, some have more than one. Author escorts pick you up at the airport holding a copy of your book in their hands. (It's a good thing if you look like your author photo as that's how they recognise you.) They get you to your hotel, to the radio station or the TV studios. Every doorman and parking lot attendant in the city is their crony. They know the back ways. They will make things work and deliver you to wherever you are meant to be on time, guard you at the signing, get you back to your hotel.

Ellen has looked after me each time I've gone to San Francisco. Stephen King once said if he was having a heart attack and needed someone to get him into a hospital and treated he'd want Harlan Ellison by his side. I'd want Harlan too, but only if Ellen Fishman wasn't available.

Some of them are that good. Some of them aren't. I've only had maybe two who were useless in all the time I've done signing tours.

On my last tour I asked all the author escorts who the worst people they'd ever had were. (It wasn't for me. Jonathan Carroll asked.) They all declined to answer, and then I'd tell them who the others had said (luckily my first escort had a number of opinions, and one bookstore was particularly voluble about the worst person they'd ever has sign there) and they'd say "Oh let me tell you about her," or "I had him, he was a sweetie" and then they'd give me their lists.

At the time Brett Butler made number one, but only because Jeffrey Archer hadn't toured for a while. The ones who remembered him still looked nervous when his name was mentioned.

And sooner or later I'll finish talking about author escorts, Screen Savers, and survival tips for on the road.


There. Now we're three signings behind on the blogger. Cody's, Mysterious Galaxy and Vromans... maybe I'll get a chance to write about them tomorrow. Right now I just want to post this and sleep.

Oh, for all the people who have come up to me and asked why I call this journal a blogger - "Is it a British thing?" - you should go to and find out...

Still. I'm now in a nice hotel in LA, and Holly's here, which made me a lot less cranky than I was. She was thrilled when we opened the door to the hotel room to find lots of people had sent flowers, champagne and faxes telling us that the New York Times List thing was a good thing, and she was astonished that journal-reading people came up to her at Vromans wishing her happy birthday and congratulating her on passing her driving test. (Her license has a photo of her with an ear to ear grin on it. It's astoundingly cute.)


I've put in a request to the powers that be to make this journal (a) easier to read. (I want larger type dammit.) And (b) to make the links visible without having to pass the mouse over them to reveal them (which seems to defeat the purpose of them being links). I hope we can make it happen soon...

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