Thursday, May 29, 2014

Joys of Obscurity

We all have this dream.  It goes like this: write a book, get it published, and live the life of the rich and famous authors like J.K. Rowling.

Most published authors don't live like J. K. Rowling.  Instead, they live like me... and this guy:

My favorite part of this column is the bit that goes like this:

In Boston, a woman approached me after the Q and A., her face tense with anguish and disappointment. "I thought you were going to be Alice McDermott," she said. "So did I," I said.

It reminds me all to well of the time I was booked at a B. Daltons or Borders (when those still existed) and they gave me a card table in the hallway near the food court.  I was reduced to hawking my wears to passers' by, most of whom looked baffled to be harangued by an author (this was Minnesota, after all.)  A woman gives me a sneer and said snootily, "I'm sorry, I don't read."  "At least you're sorry!" I replied.

Like Mr. Rosenblatt, I've play to audiences of three... sometimes even none--beyond the awkward, apologetic bookstore liaison/event organizer.   I've also had the experience of sharing a signing with a FAMOUS author, and watching his/her line stretch around the corner and out the store.  Both are frustrating, but I've always been lucky to have friends who will push through the crowd and shout, "OMG!  TATE HALLAWAY!!  WILL YOU SIGN MY BOOBS!?!" (because those are my friends...) This is, btw, a true story, and I remain proud because it made Neil Gaiman turn his head to see who I was to rate boob signing....

So you have to make the best of it as Mr. Rosenblatt says.  Learn to take joy in the obscurity.

1 comment:

Eleanor said...

Wiscon has a mass signing at the end of the con. I know I will sign three or four books, so I find another author -- someone I want to talk to -- and sit down next to her, and we chat. Now and then, one or the other of us will sign a book, then we got back to chatting. It's much pleasanter than getting writer's cramp signing one book after another, and I avoid the mental stress of worrying if I have spelled people's names wrong.