Perhaps the most important reason for partnering with a publisher was that we could put our energy into the things we enjoy. We really enjoyed the writing and designing, but we knew that the printing process and approaching bookstores and press would give us much less energy. Those are just the tasks that publishers are good at. This way we would have time for another important task, the promotion of our book. We've been working on our book full time for a year, but without promotion we won't sell a single copy. In the next two months, we are going to give everything, but really everything, to reach our ultimate goal: to sell 750 books out of our own hands, apart from sales in bookstores and Amazon. More than 400 books have already been sold in presales, but our real promotional tour begins now. We are going on a book tour by bike through the Netherlands and Belgium.
Zoë spent the entire month of September planning the tour. A real hassle to plan all the locations and dates so that everything fits together and we can do everything by bike. There are about twenty presentations planned and more than a thousand kilometers on the bike. We take the books with us in a trailer and in our panniers, along with the tent and all our other camping equipment. Together we carry about 100 kilos per bike so we won't go fast. With all the presentations, we hope to sell about 200 books. Converted into invested time, that is anything but efficient, but that is not our main goal. We want to inspire with our presentations, and with a book called On Human Power, we can't arrive by car, isn't it? Most of all, we don't want to!
Part one of the tour takes us through Belgium. On the way from Tongeren to Hoegaarden, we sit in the grass next to the bike path eating our sandwiches. It is Monday, November 1, All Saints Day, a holiday in Belgium. Two people walk by. They look at us, slow down for a moment, then walk on, only to finally ask, "Are you still sleeping in the tent now?"
"Yess!" we say in chorus.
"Brrr, that's cold in November anyway," says the woman.
Soon we're telling about our book tour and showing our book to the curious couple.
"Do you have one left that we can buy?" the woman asks politely.
Fifteen minutes later they walk through with our book in hand.
"We just sold a book," Zoë smiles.
"Another two kilos lighter," says Olivier.
A few days later we are cycling to Ghent. A man stands in front of his driveway and stops us.
"Would you like to come for a cup of coffee and maybe stay the night tonight?" he asks.
Yesterday, too, we were invited for tea as we sat on a bench in the park. South America, Sweden or Belgium, hospitality really does exist everywhere.
At the same time, Olivier phone rings.
"Good afternoon Olivier. This is Luca from VTM News."
They have heard about our book tour and want to make a report for the seven o'clock news tomorrow.
The day after, big cameras are on our noses and two hours of footage is shot. On our way to Antwerp, many people remarkably point at us. Once in a while we hear them whisper: "hey, those are the world travelers." We giggle proudly at our temporary fame. Just before Antwerp, we stop at a supermarket and buy two bananas. When Olivier comes out, two people have already been to Zoë's to congratulate her.
"O, this can't be true. Yesterday you were on TV and now you're eating a banana here in my town," says another woman in surprise.
We're famous for one day.
From Belgium we go to the Netherlands. In ten days we have eight presentations. Zoë's mother was right. We are living in a kind of roller coaster and feel like we are in the last carriage, constantly being dragged along from one place to another. Actually we are over-tired, but at every presentation we receive so many positive reactions that give us even more energy. We change Padre Antonio's saying. Gratitude overcomes fatigue.
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