The thing about books signings, for me at least, is that they are rare occurrences. It’s most likely my own fault. To this point, I have set up all of my local events on my own without the help of a publicist. I tend to go out a couple of times to launch a new book, then I retreat back to my desk, to my work, so, hopefully, I can do it all over again. Public speaking is easier than it used to be for me, but when you only do it a few times a year, it takes a little while to get into the swing of things. About the time I get my rhythm, it’s time to stop. It’s not my strongest suit. That’s the problem.
This time around, last week for the launch of Vengeance at Sundown, I was more comfortable. I don’t know, after eight or nine times, you kind of know what to expect. There are always surprises, pleasantries, unexpected encounters, old friends showing up. I read some advice from an octogenarian recently that struck home. She said, “You have to force yourself to go out. Something wonderful will happen when you do.”
Some observations from the week:
* People still rely on print to get their news. 93 year old Ned has come to each of my signings at the Barnes and Noble in Noblesville. Ned is a WW II vet and a spry man that I had never met before I published my first book. He said to me, “I’ve been watching the paper for your book.” And then he smiled wide as he picked up Lucas Fume #1 and handed it to me to be signed. If I have become jaded, then that act should have completely melted the jade to goo. It did.
* There is traffic in bookstores no matter whether it is Tuesday night or Saturday afternoon. The death of the printed book has been grossly exaggerated in my humble opinion.
* Art matters. People love to look at pictures and see their own story in them. Or, they see your story and it takes them away from their story, even if for only a second. Passionate, smart people exist in this world just to make sure that art is available to everyone. I am encouraged and inspired by art, by these people who open their doors to the world.
* Young writers are luckier than they know. They haven’t published yet, are not confined by a deadline, can take as much time to hone their story as they want. Bad thing is, most of them don’t know when to let one thing go and start another. Seasoned writers appreciate deadlines for a reason. I’m happy to offer them advice when they ask, but what I tell them sounds too simple. I can see it on their face. Read a lot, write a lot, finish what you start, send it out, do it all over again.
* Stories matter as much today as they did a hundred or thousand years ago. Don’t let anyone tell you any different.
Thanks to everyone who came out and saw Rose and I, bought a book, or just said hello. It was a wonderful week, and we were touched beyond words. Now, it’s back to work for me—but I have events scheduled throughout the year, so maybe next time, come May, 2015, maybe I won’t be so rusty.
Go out. Something wonderful will happen when you do.