Monday, December 12, 2011

Booking It

Note to my agent: my book tour is going well, but there have been a few glitches which I'm hoping you'll remedy immediately.

 #1 I believe my contract stipulated bowls of M&Ms with pictures of my book cover on them, in my dressing room.

#2 I believe my contract stipulated a dressing room.

 #3 I have put in for my mileage (which is considerable), and all I get from your office is stony silence.

 #4 In future, please be a bit more selective in booking my gigs. While I enjoy speaking at senior residences, many of my listeners are just post-lunch and headed to dreamland. One memorable afternoon they ALL fell asleep, except for one woman who insisted I keep talking for the full hour. Then there was the gentleman who offered to swap a copy of my book for his. I agreed, only to find out later that it was a nasty, inflammatory anti-Muslim screed (basically I gave a book away so I could throw another book in the trash). Finally, the spot where I decided to give away a free book to one lucky resident as a nifty way to kick off sales: the "winner" was a real grouch, the least popular person there, and my fun little giveaway nearly started a riot.

 #5 Your PR dept. is doing a lousy job promoting the tour. If there is any coverage in the media at all, I have to provide the materials myself. What kind of operation are you people running?

Yes, that's definitely what I would write to my agent. If I had one.

 As it is, I am my own agent. I have learned that unless your name is Rowling, King or Grisham, it is very likely that you will struggle along, largely alone, to promote your book. Nowadays, even with a major publishing house behind you, if your tome doesn't rocket to #1 on the NYT best-seller list, you won't get much support after the first few weeks of sales.

So on I go, a one-man band, writing my own press releases, posting my own flyers in windows, traveling to engagements on my own dime. And I have to say...

I love it. Sales have been strong. The overwhelming majority of my audiences have been wonderful. The actress in me really enjoys public speaking, and there's nothing quite like the feeling of signing an autograph in a shiny-new book that someone has been kind enough to buy.

Yesterday there was a launch for my new book, Underway, at a terrific new literary arts center in Chestnut Hill, Musehouse. Several of my writer friends were there, and I enjoyed the cozy, supportive atmosphere of the place (its director, Kathleen Bonanno, is also an author, and understands what hurdles we all face). As I stood there, reading, I looked out at the friendly, receptive people and realized I was right where I had always dreamed of being: a writer, on a book tour, sharing my stories.

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