Wide-Open World Tour

How do you sell a book?
And I’m not talking about a potential book that either has been written or is being written by a writer who hopes to have it published one day. I’m talking about a book already in the bookstores, with a world-class cover and a major league publisher behind it.

Okay, I’m talking about my book: Wide-Open World.

I guess it’s really a wider question. How do you sell anything new in today’s marketplace where new things pop up every day like dandelions after a spring rain? Every book, movie, song, artist, TV show, politician, product, cause…they all want to be seen. But the viewing-buying-reading-watching-listening public only has so much attention to go around. So how do you make sure that your little baby gets at least a small piece of the attention pie?

If you’re already famous, it’s easier to get noticed. Though that’s a little like saying: If you’ve already won the lottery, it’s easier to be rich. In the same week my book was released, Pulitzer Prize winner, Anne Tyler, released her 50th novel. Oprah announced her first book club pick in over a year. Fifty Shades of Grey hit the movie theaters, whipping more readers into a frenzy, as if 100 million copies sold weren’t enough. Heck, even Harper Lee, author of the classic To Kill a Mockingbird, chose my book’s publication week of all weeks to announce her first manuscript in 50 years!

With so many heavy hitters and so much noise in the marketplace, it’s easy to feel like an eager cricket at an elephant parade, but that’s alright with me. As I know from first-hand experience, crickets are hard to ignore for long.

Many years ago, I was living in Los Angeles in a converted garage apartment, trying to sleep, not having much luck. Above me, in the exposed rafters, a cricket was chirping, producing each note of its single-note song with gusto and defiance. It was the middle of the night. My wife Traca was sleeping soundly beside me. I got up.

Grabbing a tennis racket, I climbed onto a table and pulled myself into the wooden trusses that held up the roof. I wasn’t quiet about it; my adversary certainly knew I was coming, but it didn’t seem to care. As I creaked and strained my way from truss to truss, the cricket screamed its repetitive melody, louder and louder…

Before long, I reached the source. The cricket was inside some insulation right in front of me, singing its head off. Gripping my racket like a hammer with my right hand, clutching a truss with my left, I began to pound and pound and pound the insulation like a crazy man, not holding back, waking Traca up in the process.

“What in the world are you doing?” she asked directly below me in our bed.

It was only then that I realized I was completely naked, a full ten feet in the air, raging on an inch-long insect at three in the morning. Worst of all, while I stood there, out of breath, still wielding my racket like a weapon…that stupid little cricket began chirping again, right in my face.

Though I despised that little critter back in 1990, I take inspiration from it today. In the spirit of the defiant cricket, I’ve decided to hit the road, launching a venture I’m calling the Wide-Open World Tour. The idea is to connect with friends all across the country, meet readers in homes and in book stores, connect with book clubs and local media.


Anyone interested? If you’d like to host a get-together, let me know. Can you help me connect with newspapers, radio and/or TV in your area? I’d love to hear from you. Have a book club that would like to meet with a visiting author? Drop me a line. Can you be my liaison to your local independent bookseller? You’re hired. My hope is to have some fun, meet new people, sell some books, and get the word out. I’ll be starting in Florida around the beginning of Arpil, heading west for Los Angeles, then looping back East when and if the winter decided to loosen its grip on New England.

I can’t exactly say I know how to sell a book just yet, but as any good cricket knows, I can make some noise. And sometimes, that’s enough to wake people up.

Hope to see you on the road!

  • Susanna Porter
    Posted at 14:49h, 26 February

    Love your cricket story. Go for it John, readers will love this book, they just have to find out about it! Good luck!

    • John Marshall
      Posted at 17:02h, 26 February

      Thanks Susanna. The Defiant Cricket will not be denied. 🙂 Hope to see you when I swing through NYC. All the best.

  • Marty Coulter
    Posted at 19:03h, 26 February


    We’re excited about hosting a gathering at our home when you head North, through Tallahassee. We may need to have you for two nights, as I’m sure so many of our friends and acquaintances will what to hear about your book.. If this will work out for you, give us a heads-up of possible dates so all will be organized.. We will look forward to the “noise” you’ll share with us and our guests! You are already successful in our eyes and we are confident your book will be successful too. My John got a head start on your book while I was away and is totally enjoying it. Congratulations!

    • John Marshall
      Posted at 19:09h, 26 February

      Thanks Marty. The first three dates will be Fort Myers, Gainesville and Tallahassee with you. Two nights will be just fine. We’re looking at early April but I’ll give you a more definite date very soon. Thanks so much. Can’t wait to see you all!!!

  • Steven Carper
    Posted at 00:33h, 27 February

    John, I would love to help with your book and share more of your love for GSAM and the world you have traveled. I know of some book clubs that would love to host a real-live author! Are you up for traveling to the great Portlandia (Oregon, of course).

    • John Marshall
      Posted at 10:48h, 27 February

      That’s awesome, Steven. Let me see how far north of LA my invites take me. I’ve never been to Oregon so that would be fun. All the best, John

  • Clifton Shipway
    Posted at 02:01h, 27 February

    Your welcome to come do a reading here anytime. I sat at the fireplace reading Wide Open World to Priscilla, Nancy, Joey and Dad last night. They loved it! I am sure the Small Girls and Small Boys wouldn’t mind it either… 😉

    • John Marshall
      Posted at 10:52h, 27 February

      I’m seriously considering this. It’s a little off my scheduled route but still, I hear Banbasa is an up-and-coming market for all things literary.

      • Natalie Graham
        Posted at 12:39h, 27 February

        You two are funny. We’d never get John back in the States if he did a ‘quick little jaunt’ over to Banbasa! The kids wouldn’t let him leave again! 🙂 Do you Skype/Facetime with the kids every so often, John?

        • John Marshall
          Posted at 21:20h, 27 February

          I did a Skype call with the nursery kids last night in fact. Two at a time. The whole thing took an hour and a half. They all wanted to see where I’m living and meet my parents, so I carried my laptop around the house seven times. I do miss those little darlings.

  • Ruth Heggen
    Posted at 08:35h, 27 February

    John, you are welcome back to Wells, my home, and I’ll do all I can to promote your book there. I head home the middle of April. Maybe we’ll meet up in Tallahassee. I would contact our local paper and Faribault County Resister for an interview. What about a school lyceum? Of course, my home is open, too.

    • John Marshall
      Posted at 10:53h, 27 February

      Thanks, Ruth. I’ll keep Wells in mind.

  • Meg Pickering
    Posted at 13:42h, 27 February

    Hi John, Carroll and I would love to have an event at our beautiful new building when you get back to Maine!

    • John Marshall
      Posted at 21:16h, 27 February

      Done Meg! Can’t wait to see you and your beautiful new space. It’ll be mid may before I (and Spring) land back in Maine. See you then.

  • Susan Proulx
    Posted at 02:08h, 09 March

    Hey John – sent an email about dates and one to introduce you to my friend in Tahoe…..Let’s talk soon! Really psyched for this!

  • Susan McCaffrey
    Posted at 12:54h, 29 March

    Thank goodness, I have a terrible cold and could hardly get out of bed yesterday! I was able to read almost your entire book, literally unable to put it down for very long! Your honest, funny, and inspirational account of your family’s trip did not sugarcoat anything or make you seem like superhumans. I am a Social Studies teacher at East Grand Rapids Middle School, a lovely lakeside town where everyone walks, including to school. Will you ever be in the Grand Rapids area? If so, I would love to arrange for you to speak to our students. EGR is very affluent and the GR area is known for being philanthropic, so you would be received very warmly. The local independent bookstore, Schuler Books, is beloved and hosts many author programs. They also have a store in East Lansing, Michigan (home to beautiful Michigan State University…..by the way, I have a sophomore son there and a daughter who will be an MSU pre-med freshman there this fall. Every year, they have a One Book initiative that all freshmen must read. I’d highly recommend your book!), which is about an hour away. When you get a chance, could you get back to me about the possibility of you ever coming to Michigan, your fees, etc.? I am just about to post on Facebook praising your book! Good luck and I hope to meet you someday!

    • John Marshall
      Posted at 22:03h, 30 March

      Hi Susan. So glad you were sick 🙂
      I’m intrigued by all the potential in the Grand Rapids area. I need to get home when my daughter gets out of college…but I’ll be passing by that area on May 1st or 2nd. That’s a Friday and Saturday. Not sure if any of that would work for you. Maybe that’s too short notice.
      Love to get involved in the One Book initiative. I’m sure there’s lots of competition. How would someone even look into that?
      Thanks for all the enthusiasm. If we don’t connect on this trip, it will happen one day.
      Really appreciate any help you can offer getting the Wide-Open World word out. As a first-time author, every little bit counts. All the best,

  • sunny
    Posted at 00:34h, 16 April

    I hope you make it to Seattle! I just finished your book and have been inspired. Thank you!

    • John Marshall
      Posted at 02:37h, 16 April

      So glad you liked it Sunny. Not going to make it to Seattle this trip. Heading to India around the middle of May. But next time around, I’ll definitely come by. I’ve always wanted to visit. All the best and please help spread the word. Every little bit counts. Thanks!