An alarming thing will happen at the end of this week.
Alarming for me, anyway. I’m making a public appearance. Something I never do. But what other choice is there?
Here’s the thing. One of the many duties you have as an author is to publicize your books. The principle behind this rather antiquated idea apparently being that if people don’t know your book exists, then how can they buy it?
Hm. Well, okay. I see their point.
But where do I draw the line? Isn’t it enough that I wrote the thing in the first place? That I presented my material in an amusing, highly readable way, and went through about twenty different drafts of it in various forms as they arrived from the publisher? So much so that, if all copies were suddenly lost, I could rewrite every single chapter word for word from memory, footnotes included? I mean, come on. By that point isn’t the author off the hook?
Isn’t it up to the publishing company – I had to pick mine at random, so naturally I chose Random House – to then step up, grab the baton, and go crazy-mad with their marketing dollars, flinging them from rooftops if they have to, to let the public know their latest product is available in stores, and it’s a doozy?
Well, no. Seems not. Seems I’m being wildly optimistic on that front. Publishers publish books; they don’t see it as their responsibility to let the public know that they’ve done so. That would be outrageous.
Therefore, this coming Friday at 7pm I’m going to do something I don’t like doing at all. A book-reading. My first, and with any luck my absolute last.
I’ll be at Skylight Books in Los Angeles, at 1818 N. Vermont Avenue in Los Feliz, as part of a four-author event, where I’ll be rattling off a couple of sections from Naked In Dangerous Places, my latest travel book, with one eye on the page and the other scanning the room for the nearest exit.
I’ve only ever agreed to do one other reading before this. At Barnes & Noble in Santa Monica a few years ago, when Gullible’s Travels was published. Big ads in the window drew a large crowd, the meeting room was filled; the only person who wasn’t there was me. Much to everyone’s annoyance. It was a huge mistake, I realized afterwards, and I apologized profusely. Still, it demonstrates how strongly I feel about this issue. About doing nothing.
Now comes this. Another one. And exactly like last time, the organizer of Friday’s event told me to get the word out. “Let people know about it. Ask them to bring friends.”
“Ooh, okay,” I chuckled. “Whatever you say.”
So that’s what I’m doing. Except that, in what might seem like a spot of reverse psychology but isn’t, I’m saying to you (and only you; keep this under your hat), don’t bother. Stay home. You’re busy; I’m sure you have other plans. I know I do. Only, in my case I’ve had to give them up to do a stupid book-reading.
And yes, yes, yes, Mr. Organizer, I will show up this time. Promise. Under duress, naturally. Sweating profusely with nerves, sure. And expecting the audience to number between – how many shall we estimate? – three and five people, all of them there to hear the other authors. But I will most definitely swing by.
And you – well, you join us at your peril.
Here’s what the fuss is about: