Memories Are Made of…This?

Four years ago, after my first mystery novel hit the bookstores, I acquired a new job title: Doer of Whatever It Takes to Get This Book in Front of the Public So It Will Sell. Most of the time, it was a pretty cool job. I researched marketing possibilities, called up bookstore owners, scheduled book signing dates, talked to media contacts, went to book signings, drank bottled water, chatted with readers, and, in general, had fun.

Sometimes, though, it was less fun than other days.

Sometimes, it was almost depressing, as in “what in the world am I doing here being a struggling author when I could be home getting the laundry done and feeling like a productive member of the human race?”

Thankfully, most of those days are behind me now, but to reassure new authors that we all have bad days, I’d like to share two of my less-than-bright moments.

Scene: Bookstore signing

I spend an hour and a half at a table in a mall outside a bookstore. The place is mobbed – not with readers frantic to buy my book, but with adults and kids participating in a fun run to benefit the children’s hospital in town. At my table, I get lots of attention, though. The two most frequent questions I get are: “Where is a bathroom?” and “Is there some place around here where we can get something to drink?” Being the helpful person I am, I point people in the direction of the former and offer the others some of my bottled water.

Okay, so it’s not my most glamorous moment as an author.

Scene: At the local television studio before my appearance on the morning show:

“You’re not allergic to dogs, are you?” a nice young intern asks me before he opens the door to the green room, where I’ll wait for my turn on the show.

“How big are the dogs?” I ask, since I don’t do well with big dogs in open spaces, let alone big dogs in small windowless rooms where they can slobber all over you while you cringe in abject misery on a hard plastic chair.

“They’re little,” he says.

“No, I’m not allergic,” I tell him, and he ushers me into the room.

The intern is right, the dogs are little. Really little. They are also dressed up in Halloween costumes. One is a shark, one is a pumpkin, a Chihuahua is wearing a blonde wig and red dress, and another tiny dog has on Snow White’s signature blue vest and yellow skirt.

“Who’s the Chihuahua?” I ask.

“Marilyn Monroe,” the handler answers.

I give myself a mental head slap. Of course it’s Marilyn Monroe. What was I thinking?

I’ll tell you what I’m thinking. I’m thinking I’m waiting to be interviewed about my novel with a bunch of dogs dressed up for Halloween. I’m thinking I’m going to fire my publicist, except that I’m my publicist.

Some moments really are better as memories…

Care to share some of your moments (bright or not)?

~”Only a loser, and this is the VERY first rule of novel writing, wears what they wear on their author photo on the back of the book to their very first book signing” (Brad Meltzer).~

17 Replies to “Memories Are Made of…This?”

  1. Jan, with my debut novel about to release, I so appreciate this post. Thank you, thank you! :You gave me a laugh right when I needed one. I can be so intense sometimes. Love the dogs. :o)

    1. Just keep laughing, Janalyn! It will put a smile on your face at all your events and your readers will love you. Becoming a published author is so humbling.

    1. Glad you enjoyed the post, Raewyn. Long before I became published, I saw an author doing a booksigning at a book store, and there was no one there with her, except for one reader who must have talked her ear off for about 20 minutes. I thought “poor author!” never knowing it would be me in years to come!

  2. I think the critical question is, were you interviewed before or after the dogs in Halloween costumes? Because that would be a tough act to follow. 😉

      1. Sharon, I didn’t even get to the part about the real life ghostbuster who was on after me. I caught him in the parking lot later and we had a lovely chat! I’ve started blogging twice a week on my website about life in general, so visit me there and you’ll find out more about me than you wanted to know.

  3. Ahhh, this is what makes us real writers—-the humiliations we’ve suffered for our “art”! There’s a great book on this (which, by the way, I bought for 50 cents on a remainder table): Mortifications: Writers’ Stories of Their Public Shame. Some very famous writers there whose gaffes and, well, mortifications, are hilarious and purifying, making me feel like I’m really in the right club after all! Thanks for the fun!!

    1. Gotta check that one out. Believe me, the Halloween dogs aren’t nearly the worst of my mortifications as an author and speaker.

  4. my dad used to say every time something bad happened, “just think what a great story this will be someday,” and i remember that every time things are less than ideal

  5. Ah, the perils of publishing … how encouraging! Reminded me of something that a close friend asked me when I told them I wanted to pursue writing for publication, “What do you have to say?” [Aargh!]

    But I still ask myself that question every time I sit down to write, “What DO I have to say?” And now, I can answer it without wincing.

    1. I think that, too. Sometimes I wince, sometimes I just give up and eat chocolate.

  6. It’s hard to be more memorable and entertaining to viewers than the dog dressed like Marilyn Monroe. But since you’re funny, I’m sure you held your own.

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