A recent article in the NY Times covered pre-pub tours and focused on one particular author. The article says in part, "Booksellers usually view the dinners as a grand gesture by the publisher, said Paul Yamazaki, the chief book buyer at City Lights. "What they’re trying to do is make a statement about the book,” he said. “They want you to go read it, and it gives them another five minutes. But you can’t manufacture these things. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work, and the book has to deliver. Ultimately it’s about the book." … "But the effects of meeting an author in a social setting are undeniable. “The back story with Steven is that he’s from where he’s from — he’s a working-class guy,” Mr. Yamazaki added. I wasn’t going to read it," another bookseller said, "Until he said that Paul Auster of ‘City of Glass’ was one of his major influences.""
Read more about pre-pub tours here..