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    Ever since he was a kid, Kevin Gibson wanted to be the guy who wrote the book: the author people look forward to meeting in person, maybe to ask a question, maybe to get an autograph. Maybe just to look at him, see what an author looks like.

    Now, with a couple of titles out - through both self-publishing and traditional publishing - he is that guy, here in Louisville. A major factor: When he published Louisville Beer: Derby City History on Draft last summer, he embarked on a Louisville book tour that has “helped make that dream come true.”

    His girlfriend jokingly refers to Gibson as a “C-list celebrity,” but Gibson said he darn sure never wants to be an A-list celeb based on his Louisville book tour experience. “It’s exhausting," he said.

    Gibson had between 40 and 45 book signings since September, with more to come. To get to his favorite part of the process – meeting lots of folks with similar interests in beer and beer history – he has to gear up to be “on” for two or more hours at a time.

    Sometimes it doesn’t go smoothly. One afternoon, a book signing at one of the Louisville Free Public Library branches was scheduled at the same time as the last regular season Wildcats game. Not one person showed up. As Gibson thanked his host, he told her he just “stood there and thought about beer for an hour.”

    The very next week at the Filson Club, over 100 people came to Gibson’s signing. You never can tell.

    “It’s a big part of what sells books today." Gibson said. "People still want to meet the author, they still romanticize that a bit."

    Working with a publisher on Louisville Beer helped a lot, Gibson said. While Gibson already had his own contacts with local breweries, the publishing staff used their expertise to schedule signings before the book came out. Gibson was able to fulfill his wish of doing his first signing at BBC - where he said he “cut his teeth on craft beer" - followed by an appearance at Carmichael’s, the first one organized by the publisher.

    Feel like you’ve seen that face on TV? That could be, as Gibson has made quite a few television appearances to talk about his book and Louisville's beer history.

    “My family and friends thought it was the coolest thing ever when I was on TV, but it’s so hard,” Gibson said. “You show up at 6:30 a.m. Then it’s one or one and a half hours of waiting. Then it’s about a minute or a minute and a half on air, which is mostly the host making jokes. I appreciate that I’ve been able to do it, but I’m not sure it’s getting me much. That said, it’s a lot of fun, and I’d do it again.”

    Gibson has even had the opportunity to collaborate with buddies at BBC to plan larger events, including book signings. The Derby City BrewFest, held this past Oaks Day, was the result of an interview Gibson did with a New Orleans writer.

    After the first 10 or so signings, Gibson said he started to run into people around town whose names he couldn’t remember, though they recognized him as the beer book author. He may not be able to remember everyone’s names, but certain comments can’t be forgotten.

    "A guy at BBC asked if I wrote the book and said he bought it and thanked me for telling that story," Gibson said. "He said he appreciated that I wrote it. That is exactly what I would want everyone to say."

    Another reader said “I loved it! Best part was the photos!”

    “Don’t say that,” Gibson advised.

     

     

    Want to do your own Louisville book tour? If so, you’ll want to take these last pieces of advice from Gibson. “Be patient. It’s tough out there, and it’s not easy to get a publisher to take a book unless they’re guaranteed to make money. And don’t think you’ll make a lot of money. You do it because you love it; you want to do it.”

    Knowing the immense amount of work required for a Louisville book tour, I wondered if Gibson would do a national book tour if the opportunity arose.

    “In a heartbeat," he said.

    Look for Louisville Beer: Derby City History on Draft at Carmichael’s and WHY Louisville in the Highlands. If they are sold out, shop at Amazon. Gibson is already thinking about expanding the book with information on brand-new Louisville breweries that have opened since he published his book. Gibson said he's hoping for a second printing – and of course more of the Louisville book tour.

    Photos: Kevin Gibson

    Kachina Shaw's picture

    About Kachina Shaw

    A transplanted Hawkeye, I've now lived in Louisville longer than any other city. Can't live without: my husband and fur babies, coal-black coffee, peanut M&Ms, sunflowers, monthly vacations, books, walking paths, massage and a big purse.

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