I either need a bigger slingshot or a much more winsome personality. I was told, when I became a published writer, that people would be eager to work with me to arrange signings. I was told my home town, especially, would welcome my success and do all it could to help promote this "local author" and her new novel. When I went out into the world, as sweet and unsuspecting as Mr. Smith when he went to Washington, I found that a lot of that was not true.
For example, my town librarians could not have cared less. I stopped in, pleasant as could be, to drop off ARC copies and ask about possible speaking engagements. I couldn't even get a "congratulations" out of them. The woman behind the desk looked slightly annoyed that I had taken her from her computer, but she took my book and handed me a card with the name of a woman who handled those things. So I left a note for her. Then called her and left a message. Then e-mailed her. With each communication I was unerringly polite. I heard from her, finally, about a month later, in a terse e-mail that said nothing about my book, merely asked me to provide dates when I would be available. All of these interactions were as chilly as a meat locker. I was starting to understand why some writers fear to tread these mean streets.
But I persisted. A huge book conglomerate in my town (which happened to carry my book) seemed like the next logical choice. I approached the manager, smiling (and yes, I had combed my hair and brushed my teeth). I mentioned that I had written that book, the one shelved near The Davinci Code. I was wondering, since all of my friends and family in this town would be eager to come to a signing, if they could host one on behalf of a local author. The manager shrugged apologetically. "We don't make those decisions," he said. "You'd have to go through Corporate." NO, I thought. NOT THE DREADED CORPORATE! It's like hearing that you have to fight an anaconda.
"Corporate?" I mewed. "But on your website it says all I have to do is approach the manager at my local store!"
"Yeah, it shouldn't say that on there," he said, obviously not well-versed in the contents of the company site. "You still have to go through corporate."
So I called Corporate. Left a message, bright as a sunbeam, trying to sound professional yet brief yet not so brief that I didn't provide enough information. And I waited. Spring turned to summer. The trees grew thick green leaves and the days grew hotter. CORPORATE must have had some kind of book emergency, I thought. Then again, my own library liason had taken a month, and she wasn't thrilled when she did get back to me. When the Goliath known as Corporate finally sent an e-mail, it said, "We can't even consider a signing until we see a copy of your book."
Now, my publicist had sent the book to them months before, but I told him of the mandate in the e-mail, and he said he would send out another one. Time passed. Corporate said nothing. I ventured another e-mail, indicating that the book seemed to be selling well locally, and I would love the opportunity to do a signing. No response for another couple of weeks. Then, finally, the long-awaited e-mail came, and it said, "Thanks for your interest. I will be sure to look at your book at my earliest convenience."
This is what is known, to me and Mr. Smith, as A LIE. Even my publicist advised me to "cut bait." So this was the hometown welcome I received--that, and the local newspaper which wasn't interested enough to run a story about the novel.
But here I must thank the wonderful independent bookstore owner in Forest Park Illinois: Augie Aleksy at Centuries and Sleuths was wonderful about arranging a signing, he treated me like royalty, HE READ MY BOOK, and he keeps my mystery stocked on his shelves.
In my silly revenge fantasies I, childishly, imagine that I will become famous just so that I can say no to Corporate, assuming they ever manifest an interest, and can tell the local library that I'll get back to them via e-mail. :)
Art Courtesy of http://www.dealydaily.com/images/david_goliath.jpg