SLIGHTLY OFF THE
I’ve been working on a press release
for my second book signing, and it made me think about wind instruments.
You see, I was brought up to think
bragging is bad, and modesty is good. Not false modesty: The real kind, where
you don’t blow your own horn and you’re embarrassed when someone else does.
It’s not a concept understood in Washington or Hollywood, and it seems to be
going out of vogue pretty much everywhere else.
Here I am, continually getting into
situations where I have to blow that horn, or at least a kazoo. In July I held
a signing for my first novel, Storm
Chaser, and sold 15 copies (which is good for a book signing, especially
for a first time novelist). Overall I’ve signed over 100 copies, sending some
to other states and a few to other countries. Awhile back I signed a copy of
the Albion New Era next to my column,
as a surprise for a fan in another state.
A fan. Can you believe that? I have fans. At least one.
So now I’m getting ready for a new
book signing, On December 3rd at the Brick Ark Inn here in Albion.
Not only that, but there’ll be another signing on December 9th at
Freedom Acres near Cromwell (https://www.facebook.com/search/results.php?q=freedom%20acres&i...)
and still another in late January, at the Noble County Public Library. I don’t
expect to sell as many copies as the first time – all my relatives who read
have already bought a copy – but it’s nice to get out and meet readers, and
it’s nice to support local establishments.
But I’m not supposed to be nice. I’m
supposed to be bragging.
I can brag about being modest
(there’s a contradiction for you), but I keep getting myself into situations
where I have to sell – myself. Writing, running for office, proposing to my
fiancée … all involve asking people to affirm I’m a guy worth having around.
Most recently the answer from the voters was no and from my fiancée yes, which
I much prefer to the other way around.
Writing is an inherently egotistical
business, which makes it especially odd that writers are often shy and unassuming.
At one time they could afford to be; but these days, with publishers doing less
promoting and self-publishing becoming more popular, writers have to force
themselves to toot that tuba. Even before that they had to work hard to sell
themselves, if only to agents and editors.
It took me decades to sell my first
novel, which was hard on the old ego and tended to keep me modest. Now I’m a
Professional Writer with my own website and business card, and I even have a
short story collection coming out next May. Think about that. What am I saying?
I’m saying, “Look at me! Look at
Gah. I hate that. But I’m going to
sit there and hand out free copies of a short story, which I wrote as a – what?
Reward? Treat? A thank you for showing up and touring the Inn? (Do tour the
Inn, by the way – it’s beautiful.)
Okay, I could see people picking up
a two thousand word Christmas story – it’s free, after all. And I can see
people reading my column, because it’s there in the paper anyway, and don’t we
need a few smiles? What freaks me out is the idea of people wanting to spend
their hard earned money and a couple of weeks of their time reading a novel
written by … me.
Okay, I’m going to throw away any
shred of modesty and tell you people are raving over this book. It got nine
5-star reviews on Amazon. It got five 5-star reviews on GoodReads and four
4-star reviews. (What, you shorted me a star? How dare you!) It’s a nice
affirmation, because I don’t know if
it’s any good – I have to take other people’s word for it. Every time I do
something for publicity or promotion, a little voice in my head screams,
“Seriously? You think people want to read your stuff, when there are 70 cable
stations? They’re just being polite.”
I keep expecting angry readers to
figure out I’m a fake and show up with tar and feathers. And not nice quill pen
Yet I’ve actually signed copies for
people who don’t know me. I keep warning them that it might affect the book’s
resell value, but they ask for it anyway.
If I plan to someday be a full time
writer I’m going to have to hit the brass section harder and tell people I’m a
talented and interesting writer. Or at least tell them my writing’s
interesting; in person I’m dull as a January overcast.
I don’t even own a horn.
I live for the day when I make enough
money to hire a publicist, so I can go back to writing and let them handle all
that stuff. (Most writers never make that much money, so don’t bother
submitting an application.)
The irony in this case is that the
innkeeper of the Brick Ark Inn – there’ll be room for me in the Inn this
Christmas! – is way more humble and unassuming than I, and deserves the
publicity and business way more than I do. So maybe I’m going about this the
wrong way: maybe, when it comes to doing a book signing at a business, I should
blow their horn and just be there to
take advantage of the tune.
Yeah, I like that. Forget the rest
of it: come to the Brick Ark Inn’s open house on December 3rd and
Freedom Acres on December 9th! I’ll be there after 1:30 for the
former, and from 5-8 p.m. for the latter … and if I’m not, it only means all
this ego stuff finally got to me, and I couldn’t fit my head in the door.