Saturday, March 19, 2011

The One

I've been doing a lot of travel since the release of Crying Blood last month. Nothing as dramatic as trips to foreign climes like some of my blogmates, but still... enough to put a dent in the gas budget. Last weekend I was at the Tucson Festival of Books which I wrote about at length and posted pictures of on my own web site, so I won't reiterate here, except to say that TFOB is huge! I understand some 100,000 people attended over the weekend. It reminds me of the LA Book Fair.

This was my second trip to southern Arizona for an event in a three week period, and I'll be making yet another trek to Tucson at the end of this month to appear at Clues Unlimited, Tucson's mystery book store. Between all this flitting hither and yon, I've been blog touring. A post about the genesis of my sleuth, Alafair, appeared yesterday on a Western fiction writer's blog. (Want to read about and see a picture of the real Alafair? Click here.)

I've been at this non-stop PR since before the book came out. My work currently consists of little more than publicity. Am I hard at work writing the next book? What do you think? I mention all this for a reason other than BSP. I don't think any published author will find this unusual. While I was in Tucson I spent some time with an author friend of mine so we could catch up on each other's lives. This woman is a solid midlister, certainly better known than I, and currently on a driving tour of the southwestern U.S. She told me that she has developed health problems due to the stress of promotion - and doing the endless online stuff hurts her more than the travel.

I asked another friend as we were sitting at an outdoor booth waiting for people to come by and buy our books, "Do you think this is worth it?"

"No," she said.

"Why do you do it?" I asked.

"Because I can't say no," she answered.

Why do we do this? I've had occasion to ask myself that question quite a lot lately, and here's the answer. Not that I can't say no when I'm asked, but because even if only two people show up at some event you do, one of them may be The One. You never know when that one person who can really boost your career will see some comment you made on a forum, or read a blog entry you wrote, or attend a conference panel you're on, or a workshop you're teaching, and be moved to read your book.

i.e. I'm signing books after a talk and a woman comes up and says, "I think Joan Allen would make a great Alafair in a movie, what do you think?"

I smile and say, "I'd love it, and if you know anybody who makes movies, send 'em my way."

The woman looks thoughtful. "My cousin writes scripts for Lifetime. I wonder if he'd be interested..."

Will I ever hear from her cousin? Highly unlikely. But who knows? We authors maintain hope in the face of long odds. Maybe that woman is The One.


Vicki Delany said...

You are so right. Sometimes I'm not even waiting for The One. I just do it because I can't say no. On the other hand, I really do enjoy all the people I've met at the things I've done and the places I've been able to go to.

Donis Casey said...

I admit I enjoy events and programs, as well, and meeting readers and other authors, and interesting people in general. The only thing I don't like at all is sitting at a table in the corner of a bookstore without a chance to speak beforehand. Oh, and I don't like to spend a bunch of money to travel somewhere without any reimbursement and very little return in sales

Charlotte Hinger said...

I'm constantly wrestling with guilt--the uneasy feeling that I'm not doing nearly as much as my fellow authors. Like Donis, I enjoy events and meeting people. But I don't like the business end of setting them up.

Donis Casey said...

I knocked myself out on my first couple of books, and spent a whole lot of money traveling, too. I enjoyed it, but I'm not convinced the monetary return is worth the outlay.