The biggest surprise I’ve had in the run up to the publication of my first book has not been the all-expense-paid world tour, the private jets, adoring crowds, or the personal assistant. (Let’s face it – those things get old after a few months. I’ve heard.) The surprise has been how important it is to be nice, and how eager people are to return the favor. So this post is a paean to book people everywhere, and an exhortation to authors everywhere to go out and meet them.
A few months back, long before my book was going to drop, I wandered into one of our local libraries and asked to talk to the librarian in charge of the History Book Club. Since The Midwife’s Tale is historical fiction, I wanted to introduce myself and offer to meet with the group if they decided to read my book. (Since I assumed that the library system would buy my book anyway, there were no sales to be had: I was just trying to be sociable.) Margaret and I had a great conversation, and then – out of the blue – she asked if I’d be interested in holding my launch at the library. It’s a beautiful space, in a great location so I eagerly agreed. Then Margaret really turned on the jets, putting together an awesome poster for the event, and promising to really beat the bushes for attendees. She also will bring in someone from the local independent book store to sell copies (at a library!), and do her best to get me on the local NPR affiliate’s arts and culture show. All this because: a) She’s awesome; and b) I took the time to stop by and say hello.
The other contact that has been great is Suzanne from our awesome local independent bookstore. I swung by the store soon after I arrived in town, and she proved to be no less awesome than Margaret. She said they’d love to have me come in and sign books, and I offered to put a link on my webpage so that people could order signed copies directly from them. (For what it’s worth, she loved the idea. You should do this, too.) As if this weren’t enough, she then put me in touch with other librarians in town, and put me on the short-list for a spring speaker series that they host in conjunction with another local library. (Fingers crossed on that one.) Why? The same answer as above: she’s awesome, and I took the time to say Hello.
So here’s the moral: Get your butt out there. I know a lot of writers are not extroverts, but it’s worth it to overcome your natural reluctance and go meet people. Even though you know you are kind of a geek, and that publication is as much a product of good luck as good writing, people will be happy to meet you and will love that you have a book coming out. Even if you don’t sell a single copy of your book, you will meet awesome people who love to read, and that is reason enough.
N.B. I wrote this, my fear was that the message I send will be, “Be nice so people will help you.” That’s not it at all. My argument is that people are awesome, and you should be awesome back.