Saturday, December 20, 2008

But She Was Thinking... A Christmas Tale for Authors

The following tale is a composite of actual comments said to me or to someone I know.

The Author is spending her afternoon in a bookstore, doing a signing,   She is pulling out everything she has in her bag of tricks, trying to interest shoppers in her latest book.  She does not sit.  She has all kinds of things to give away, including candy, on the table.  She hands bookmarks and flyers to anyone who comes within ten feet of her table.  She smiles so much that her cheeks hurt. 

She does not bother those who pass her table with their faces averted in order to avoid eye contact, but she engages with anyone who seems interested, and she talks about whatever they want to talk about, all the while trying gently to steer the conversation around to her book.

She is tact itself.  She knows exactly what to say to the questions and comments that are directed at her again and again.  But what she says and what she is thinking bear little relation to one another.  Let’s listen in...

COMMENT 1: I don’t like mysteries.

THE AUTHOR SAID: What sort of thing do you like to read? OR Do you know someone who does like mysteries?

BUT SHE WAS THINKING: What do you mean you don’t like mysteries, you knucklehead?  Have you ever read one?  Do you know what a mystery is?  A good mystery is a psychological drama extraordinaire.  Even Hamlet is a mystery - did Uncle Claudius kill Daddy, or is Hamlet just nuts?

COMMENT 2 : I don’t read anything that doesn’t have a contemporary setting.  If it happened before I was born, it doesn’t interest me.

THE AUTHOR SAID: Sometimes you can learn a lot about what is happening today by reading about the past.

BUT SHE WAS THINKING: Come over here so I can slap you upside the head, whippersnapper.  Don’t you know that people in the past were exactly the same as they are today?  Don’t you know that people never learn, and the same things keep happening over and over again?  That those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it?  Of course you don’t, since you were either born yesterday or just fell off the turnip truck. 

COMMENT 3:   I have a great idea for a novel.  If I tell it to you and you write it we can split the profits and become millionaires.

THE AUTHOR SAID:  I’m sorry, but I’m under contract to write X number of novels for the next 20 years and just don’t have time to ghost write.  But there are people who do that.  Look on the internet.

BUT SHE WAS THINKING: Are you too busy/handicapped/lazy /illiterate to do it yourself, or do you simply have no concept of reality?

COMMENT 4:  You’re the first real author I ever met.  I just finished my first novel.  Will you show it to your editor/edit it for me/recommend me to your agent or publisher?

THE AUTHOR SAID:  I’m sorry, but my agent/editor/publisher won’t allow me to read or recommend unpublished manuscripts in case one of my future stories has similar elements and we get sued for plagiarism. But I can give you some tips on how to get started.

BUT SHE WAS THINKING: No.  I’ve never seen you in my life.  How do I know you’re not a psychopath? Get away from me.

COMMENT 5: I’m not interested in your book.  I’ve never heard of you.

THE AUTHOR SAID: (she launches into a long tale about how years ago she bought a signed first edition of Outlander before anyone ever heard of Diana Gabaldon and now that book is worth at least $650.)

BUT SHE WAS THINKING: Actually, I’m going to be on the six o’clock news tonight after my arrest for assault.

(The author is just joshing.  I LOVE everybody who speaks to me during a signing and would never have an ungenerous thought about any of them.)

Much love and Merry Christmas - Donis


Vicki Delany said...

Then there's, "I'm not interested in your book, but you'll be interested in the last book I read. It's called the Da Vinci Code and is about..." 5 minutes later, "you should try something like that. Then I might be interested."

Susan D said...

The best response I've heard of to the we'll-split-the-profits proposition is to say "Oh, I've already got more ideas than I know what to do with. I'll give YOU one of them, and you can write it and we'll split the profits."

N. J. Lindquist said...

How exactly did you get into my head to steal my thoughts? You don't even know me! :)

Rick Blechta said...

Hi Nancy!

Thanks for stopping by.

Merry Christmas to you and yours, too!


Donis Casey said...

I'm adding these responses to my repertoire.

Donis Casey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
maggiebishop said...

I'm adding your plagiarism line along with offering tips on getting started to my standard response list. Thanks for making me feel like I'm not alone in working hard at book signings.