Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Staying Grounded and Getting Real

We laugh on the Playground about how real friends keep you from getting too cocky about things. Should your head get a little too big, or your attitude a little too smug, your friends are the ones who will burst your bubble and remind you not to believe your own press releases.

Forcefully, if necessary. ~grin~

While the Playfriends haven’t had to smack me down recently, I’ve found the Universe will do a good job of that on its own. “Feeling a little cocky are you, Kimberly, with your USA Today tag and a NRCA award and a whole bunch of ‘friends’ on Facebook? Think you’re hot snot because RT gave you a nice review? Well, here’s a little something to take you down a peg or two and remind you of your place in the food chain: a book signing.”

Book signings are something I dreamed of before I was published. Avid readers lined up for the chance to say Hi and get a book autographed by me. The photo ops, the strokes to the ego… ahh, *that* would be so cool.

And book signings can be quite cool. I really do love meeting the readers and nothing thrills me more than signing a book for someone.

Book signings can also be the most soul-destroying things a writer will ever face. There’s nothing quite like going to a book signing and no one shows up. That stings. Even though I know it’s not my fault, that it’s not personal, that it may be the time or the place or the weather keeping the crowds of fans away, it still stings.

I’ve also spent time at multi-author signings where there’s a really popular author present (and for some reason they always sit near me), and the fans are headed to that author’s table without making eye contact with me. (And if Popular Author is close to me, their line will eventually snake past my table, and that’s really when everyone gets uncomfortable. The reader is right there, stuck in front of me and my books – which they’re really not interested in – and desperately avoiding eye contact.)

Or readers meander by, look at my little name placard and disappointment registers on their face when they realize I’m not Popular Author.

Oh, yeah, *that* will bring me right back down to earth.

My rational reader brain reminds me that I’m not a fan of every book by every author and that it’s not personal. But the needy, neurotic author still pouts and craves a drink.

But I’m not going to quit doing book signings. As long as there’s a single reader who comes by, tells me they enjoyed one of the books (whether or not they buy the one in front of me), it’s completely worth it. I’m still awed anyone – other than my mother – reads any of my books.

So, yeah, it can be a bit of a smackdown, but it’s also a good reminder of why I write books in the first place: It’s not for the lists I might hit or the awards I might win or the reviews I might garner. It’s because someone, somewhere, wants to read what I write.

Oops, there goes that bubble inflating again…



Cheryl said...

PC - I have all of your books!!! AND I LOVE THEM! Ego is a wonderful thing. It makes us strive for what we want. Don't we deserve it? Aren't we great? Nothing like that rush...

Playground Monitor said...

I've been the reader in Popular Author's line that snaked down and around a whole slew of lesser-known authors, and I know how awkward I felt. I truly wanted to buy a book from every one of them just to make that awkwardness go away. But alas, the bank account won't allow that. And one day I'd like to be on the other side of the book signing table, so I'd better get used to that awkwardness. I like your attitude -- that someone out there wants to read your books, therefore you write them.

Smarty Pants said...

What are friends for, if not to bust your bubble when you get too high and mighty and inflate it when it gets all sad and wrinkly?

Instigator said...

I now have this visual of a balloon hanging down around my ears, sad and wrinkly.

Yep, booksignings can be amazing and agonizing...all in the same 2 hours. I LOVE hearing from anyone who enjoyed something I've written. That moment is unforgetable.

And I've also been on the receiving end of those embarassed looks from the people waiting in line to see someone else. I'm like PM, I've been in that line too and know how it feels. I really want to tell everyone that it's okay. I don't expect them all (or any) to buy my book just because they're standing next to me. Honestly, I have the chocolate out so you can have some while you're waiting in the other line. And if you happen to think my book sounds interesting, great. If not, the chocolate is still there and you're still welcome to it. :-)


robertsonreads said...

You ladies are so kind and sweet. And it's good that you can keep each other balanced. That's what I have my sisters (3) and brothers (3) for.
Have a wonderful Tuesday.

Angel said...

Hmmm... yep, we need to come up with a strategy for those people snaking by for Popular Author. I'd love to be the one to ease the awkwardness, but I don't know how.

I had an incident at Nationals where I'd already purchased my books, then stood in line to get a picture with our luncheon author this coming year--Kerrelyn Sparks. Right next to her was an author -- Annie Solomon -- whose book cover looked awesome. I kept wanting to pick it up because I loved the cover! I wanted to read what it was about, but I wasn't about to stand in line to pay again (at Nationals, you can wait quite a while to pay).

Finally, curiosity got the better of me and I said, "I'm not trying to be rude, but I've already paid for my books, but I can't stand not knowing what this book is about." She was very gracious and talked to me about that book and her upcoming one, then told me she'd be at her publisher's signing where I could get the book for free! How cool! By then, I'd determined I would find it in a bookstore after I got home if I had to.