This weekend I’m at the LA Times Festival of Books — one of my favorite literary events of the year, and I’m not just saying that because The Times pays me to be a critic at large — and my stop here is only part of a long book tour that takes me from Boston to Houston to Seattle to Los Angeles and beyond. For those of you on the other side of the tour, the ones who come to see us at our events and stops, it can seem like a pretty sweet gig. We show up, people are happy to see us, we sign books and take pictures. Easy, yes? Sure! Once! But when you do a full tour, it begins to be work — actual work. So for everyone who’s never been on book tour, here are some things about touring you might not have known. 1. It’s disorienting My tour this year took me to 24 cities over five weeks, with many stops having more than one event (a lunchtime private event at a tech company, an afternoon mixer with booksellers and then a bookstore event in the evening, for example). As a result, you experience time-slippage: After a few days it’s hard to remember which day it is or what city you’re in, and you suddenly sympathize with touring musicians who yell “Hello, Cleveland!” from the stage when they’re in Detroit. Fortunately ... See John Scalzi at the Festival of Books on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. in conversation with Cory Doctorow. » 2. Your author likely has a handler Publishers will frequently hire “media escorts” for writers at each stop of the tour. These are folks who pick the author up from the airport, ferry them to and from their hotels and events, feed them snacks to keep their blood sugar up, and help make sure events run smoothly for the author. The first time I went on tour I was told I’d have these handlers and I wondered why I, a then-thirtysomething grown man, needed a hand-holder; by the end of the first week I was desperately happy I had someone telling me where to go and when to go there and occasionally shoving a granola bar into my hand. John Scalzi with friend Kate Baker after an event at Odyssey Bookstore in South Hadley, Mass. (John Scalzi) 3. It’s a grind It’s a very good thing when a publisher decides to tour an author; it’s a vote of confidence. But on the