Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Hey Bub, You're Not Cutting This Line
Sometime ago, what’s the difference how far back, I had the notion I’d share Cheetos with Stephen King, crack a beer with Malcolm Gladwell, dance the tango with Joyce Carol Oates. Newsflash. In your dreams. My dreams weren’t even so kind. I’ll admit I used to go to a slew of readings and book signings hoping to become BFFs with the Hardcover Crew, but time again I was nudged to the side like a schlemiel being denied his bowl of mulligatawny by the Soup Nazi.
Okay, Best Sellers aren’t the Soup Nazi. Maybe their agents and pouting publicists are. What I’m trying to say is that no matter how many times I tried bellying up to these Scribe Stars they kept putting up their shield. I’d do the same thing in their shoes.
A little role reversal maestro. In all fairness to them, I went about my schmoozing as a real dink. Authors are constantly barraged. They're propositioned by a gazillion schlubs. You think some smarty pants hasn’t tried slipping them a manuscript on the sly?
The nicest Lit Luminary I ever met was Myla Goldberg, Bee Season. I approached her at the Brooklyn Book Festival in 2009. She was very down-to-earth and a generous chit-chatter to boot. Even after the panel discussion had ended, she had no problem gabbing about books, her influences as a writer, and favorite snacks. How awesome I thought, to be gabbing so calmly with somebody who collects Hollywood royalty checks.
As great as it was to have had the opportunity to chew on her ear for an hour or so it didn’t help me sell one book of my own. We’re not BFFs. I don’t have any contact information from her, but her agent’s. That’s fine. I get it. Sure now I get it. But, the idea of rubbing elbows with Best Sellers and letting their lady luck rub off on me was silly at best. We should never think they are better than us, but I went about cultivating my following the wrong way.
Connect with the reader. I would have been 100 times better off chatting with the rest of the crowd, the Regular Joes and Janes. I’ve since learned to build relationships with readers, those who might actually pick up my book. It’s not about prejudging and excluding readers. Anybody could be your reader, but be realistic about who your target audience is and if you do your job and word spreads, always let the curious cut your line.