Showing posts with label libraries. Show all posts
Showing posts with label libraries. Show all posts

Mar 5, 2018

Authors in Strange Situations


Image result for cartoon convict



Nobody tells you that promoting the books you write requires you to be adaptable and have a sense of humor. We picture authors jetting all over the country, sipping champagne and telling adoring fans about their latest novel, but that's not reality for the vast majority of us. I loved the story one author told about arriving at a bookstore where he had an audience of one. The fan told him he'd really liked the book, though he admitted he might not have chosen to read it except, "It was the only one they had in solitary confinement."

I haven't met any ex-cons who are fans (that I know of), but I have ended up in strange situations. I want to state here for the record that I am EXTREMELY grateful to libraries and bookstores who allow me to come for a Sit & Sign or, even better, a talk. However, it doesn't always go the way one might imagine.

*** There was the library where they'd booked two events at the same time in the same room. The other event was a League of Women Voters meeting (in a Presidential election year), so I ended up in the children's room, with those cute little 2-foot high tables and miniature chairs.
Image result for cartoon images roof collapse***I spoke once in the Library Annex, a building so old I worried about the roof collapsing. And if any of my audience had allergies to mold...








 ***Scheduled for a Meet the Author Sit & Sign, I arrived to find the librarian who'd contacted me had retired, and no one on the job seemed much interested in her program. They'd scheduled another author to give a talk at the same time, so I got to sit and watch people file into the conference room to hear him. (They didn't even have to pass by my table to get there.) I heard every word of his speech from my table in the hallway behind the door. It was very entertaining, and when he was finished I watched people leave with his book, not even aware I was there.

***I once sat in a bookstore promoting my historicals and heard a customer ask at the front desk if they had any historical mysteries. Asked what era, the woman said she liked medieval and Tudor. The clerk led the woman RIGHT PAST ME to a section where she introduced her to a few of her favorites. Ummm, chopped liver here?

***At one library my audience was very small--three people. When I started chatting with them I realized it was the librarian's mother and her two sisters. She'd called them when it became clear no one else was going to show up!
***Recently I stopped at a library where I'm scheduled to speak and found that nobody there knew about it. The librarian had been reassigned, and yes, they'd love to have me come, but could it be Saturday, not Thursday, and in the morning, not evening.* (It's a good thing I don't have a day job!)

Ask any author who's done a book tour and they'll tell you about being asked where the bathroom is, if "you" carry the New York Times, and what books you can recommend for a fourteen-year-old who really doesn't like to read. They'll tell of events where none of the employees knew an author was coming, and a table had to be cleared really quickly for her use. Of librarians who schedule a talk mostly so they can pick the author's brain about how they might get published. And about the homeless people who attend because there are refreshments afterward. And sometimes there's absolutely no one. Time doesn't fly in those cases.
Image result for cartoon bored person

Still, it's fun. I enjoy the exchange with readers and with the people who serve as guides for reading: librarians and book store clerks. It's just that authors, like the rest of the world, have to adjust their expectations once in a while. The world doesn't revolve around us; in fact, the world doesn't ever intend to.

* The event is at the Port Tampa City Library, March 10, 2018, at 11:00 a.m. I'll be speaking on mystery writers who are very good but don't have the big name recognition.


Aug 7, 2017

The Skinny on Author Appearances

Muskegon Book Festival 7/17


Some might have a mistaken idea of how author appearances go. I know I did way back when.
I thought I'd sit at a table at the front of the bookstore and people would come in, see me, and say, "Oh, my, what have you written?" I'd tell them a little about it (it's called a pitch, and you practice it) and they'd say, "Sounds lovely. I'll take one--no, make that two. My sister likes mysteries too."

As the girl says in A Chorus Line, "That ain't it, kid."

Some ask you where the bathroom is.
Some ask if you can recommend a good children's book for their granddaughter.
Some ask if you carry the Wall Street Journal.
Some walk in a half-mile circle to avoid passing close enough for you to speak to them.
Some tell you about the book they're going to write when they get time.
Some tell you about their second cousin, who wrote a book about her near-death experience and her talk with Jesus, who sent her back because she still had things to do. It's amazing, and you can buy it on Amazon.
Petrolia, Ontario, library talk

There's nothing wrong with any of that. Anyone who knows me knows I love talking to people. The only ones who irritate me are those who can't even say hello for fear I might reach out and force them to purchase a book, but I can understand even that, since I've seen some pretty aggressive author sales tactics.

People who come to a bookstore or a library are readers, which automatically makes them good people even if they don't read mysteries or buy books from local authors. It's just that when friends say, "I see you're all over doing appearances and signings," my guess is their view of what happens at such events is like mine used to be, not like real life.

That said, I'll be at the Petoskey Library's annex building (across from the library itself) on Monday, August 14, from 4:00-5:00 pm for the 2nd annual Petoskey Author Fair. I know it sounds a little crazy that thirty authors will be there for only one hour, but that's what was decided, and I'm grateful organizers are willing to do these things for writers and readers. They say if there are people at 5:00 who haven't had a chance to meet all the authors, they'll keep the event going, so we might be there until 6:00. Who knows?

Stop by and meet a nice group of northern Michigan authors in many different genres. I'm told there will be ice cream.
Book Signing at Malice Domestic  (Washington D.C.)

May 9, 2016

Biblioboard

I heard about an e-book program for libraries called Biblioboard. Books are offered there through your local library, so you can borrow e-books just like you borrow print books. The authors don't get paid. It's a way of getting people acquainted with your work so that (maybe) they'll buy at some point.
I got notification that some of my books are now available there, but when I tried to look, I had to choose a library. Our local wasn't listed and I'm not a member of any other library systerm, so I can't look to see what's there. I think it might be the Maggie Pill books, the Sleuth Sisters.
If anyone knows about this program or is part of it, I'd appreciate hearing which books of mine are available.

Mar 9, 2015

Not Exactly a Book Tour

In the minds of many, a book tour is a glamorous thing, but like most everything else, reality is more prosaic than poetic. There are authors who draw crowds of adoring fans, like Rick Castle always does on the TV show. (BTW, I wish I had a quarter for every time someone asked me if I think Nathan Fillion really writes those books. PulEEZE!)
Most of us don't draw crowds; in fact, we're happy for every person that shows up. A speaker at Sleuthfest, the conference I attended in Florida last week, described arriving at a bookstore to find every audience chair filled, only to have them empty when it was announced over the loudspeaker that his presentation was about to start. He learned the homeless of the area were allowed to come in out of the cold and sit in the chairs, but they knew they had to leave when his talk began. Not only did he have an audience of only one person, he was responsible for the rest being tossed out into the cold!
People also imagine that publishers arrange tours for authors. They think we're met by limo drivers and escorted by publicists. That's true for a few, but most of us arrange our own events, and it's getting harder and harder. Bookstores are struggling financially, and some now charge authors a fee for a signing. And with library funds slashed, don't expect much in the way of remuneration there.
Fun with the "sexiest men at SF"
What I did for the last few weeks was in no way a tour. We wanted to escape the cold, and we hadn't been to Florida for several years. I signed up for Sleuthfest in Deerfield Beach, knowing it was a nice conference in a great area. As part of the con I did some instruction and some introductions, and I met a lot of really nice people.
Afterwards we drove north to Lake Alfred, to a library that's been transformed since I last saw it. Due to a generous donation from an unassuming gentleman, the town now has a new building that's everything a small library could hope for. The people there were so nice I felt pampered, even spoiled, and we had a great day, a lovely lunch, and few laughs together.
How nice to have my books featured at Lake Alfred!
That was the tour part. I didn't schedule more events, because we were supposed to be vacationing.
Lake Alfred's Clever Mystery Spot
 John's very patient with my "job stuff," but it's no fun for him to wait around in a hotel room or drive around large cities by himself while I talk, talk, talk about books and writing. We turned to things we both like to do: Busch Gardens, a Tigers game, and the Plant City Strawberry Festival. We once had a house near there, and it was fun to go back, though we found that the house itself has been torn down. Now we're back in Michigan, with snow instead of 80+ temps. As they say, it's good to get away, and great to get back home.
Intriguing art shop in New Smyrna Beach
John checking out the fauna at Busch Gardens

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