Tuesday 20 November 2012

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The Scary Part of Being An Author

While I enjoy writing this blog for you guys, I kind of have this picture in my mind of one day writing a book. I don't know what the book would be about, as I really only know how to write about our family, and since I cover that here it seems a little redundant, but I think I'd like to see my name in print on a bookstore shelf one day. Of course, I'm not really in to that whole "starving writer" thing. I see myself being more of a Richard Castle type, living a life of fame and glamour, regretting the day I gave Oprah's people my number because now they won't quit calling. "I'm sorry I'm holding up the book club, but I'll finish the book when I get to it!"

Tears to Dancing Poster
While I'm sure I'd be great at the actual writing part of being an author, there is one thing that totally intimidates me about becoming the next Mark Twain - the book signings. When I think of a book signing, I picture somebody famous (like me) sitting at an elevated table with a line of people stretching around the block. Apparently that's not the way it works though, at least not at the beginning. I've seen authors sitting at empty tables in the middle of bookstores before, and it doesn't look like a very comfortable situation. I suppose I could make my family come and sit with me, but really all that would add to my table is a teenage boy playing Angry Birds on his phone. Most bookstores are located in a mall, so you know my girls would be going shopping.

This weekend though, we had a chance to go to a book signing that seemed perfect for us. Local author Laura Thomas was signing her book Tears to Dancing at our local Chapters, and if there was ever a book aimed at my daughter this was it. The book tells the story of a teenage ballerina whose life is perfect right up until her 14th birthday when she is involved in a car crash that kills her parents. Take out the whole parents dying thing (I hope) and the book could be written about my daughter. Neve loves to dance - ballet, tap, jazz....I've even seen her throw in a little Gangnam style on her way from her bedroom to the kitchen. Talking to an author of a book about dancing should be a breeze.

Book signing table

Turns out though, that I'm just as intimidated by being a visitor at a book signing as I would be at my own. The first time we arrived at the book signing, we were too early. Tables were being arranged and books laid out, so my daughter and I went for a walk around the mall. When we returned, Laura was standing at the table awaiting visitors, but I wasn't too sure how the whole process worked, so we walked past the table a few times, then stood off to the side looking at a book of pictures of dogs underwater. Eventually, after watching a couple of people walk up and talk to Laura, we decided that it was time to take our turn. I wasn't too sure how to play this though, as it seemed rather stalker-ish to say that you'd come for the book signing when I knew very little about the book. I decided to play Mr. Casual and act as if we'd just stumbled upon the table, although in hindsight stumbling upon a table that you'd walked immediately in front of 5 or 6 times in the last half hour probably isn't very convincing.

Laura Thomas

Fortunately, while I have no grace when it comes to book signings, it seems that real authors do. Laura made small talk with my daughter and I beautifully, and put us completely at ease. It didn't phase her when I tried to get her to sign our book before we bought it. She didn't roll her eyes when I thrust money at her instead of taking the book up to the counter to purchase. Laura didn't even laugh when I completely froze after she asked what we'd like her to write in our book. (Side note: Is this normal? Because if beautiful women are willing to inscribe my book however I want, I'm going to start frequenting a lot more book signings.)

Book inscription

After stumbling through the process, I have to say that I left pretty happy with the whole experience. My daughter got to meet an author who shares her passion for dance, and left with an autographed book, while I left convinced that maybe I really could handle the whole book signing thing. While it's probably too early to notify Oprah's people that my book is coming, the rest of you should probably start thinking about what you'd like me to write inside your book when you come to my signing. Believe me, it's not as easy to come up with something as you'd think. 

Book signing wait time

Written by Steve Pratt