Friday, June 19, 2009

A Successful Signing--Sort Of

I suppose many writers find promotion the most difficult part of the business. That's why God created agents and publicists, isn't it?

It takes courage to face potential readers and tell them why they should choose our books from among the multitude available to them. It's not that we're not conceited enough to think our words should take precedence. The problem is many of us are more introverted than extroverted and find it easier to face the keyboard rather than people. Where is that publicist, damn it?

I shared the bully-pulpit last night with another writer at the historical society where I'm librarian. We were both to speak. He being the guest, I graciously urged him to go first. (I wasn't just being nice; I needed more time to get psyched.) A former teacher, my friend had no problem facing the audience and speaking extemporaneously about his book.

My turn came and I felt reasonably confident. Rather than focusing directly on my book I thought I'd give some consideration to the reason the Irish flocked to Pennsylvania's coal region and the exploitation and bigotry they faced, which are themes of my novel. I'd just started on my spiel when my mobile rang. I'd forgotten to turn it off. My daughter was calling to see how things were going. Well, that shot my nerves and I stumbled through my presentation.

At the signing which followed I was surprised to find my listeners didn't think I did half as bad as I thought I had. In fact, a number said they enjoyed my talk. The signing went well and we both sold books.

And, before the night was over, I had a commission for another speaking engagement.

Life is wrought with surprises.

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