Thursday, December 3, 2009

Running Through the UCLA/SC Game in my Underwear

I just re-read a funny article on author book tours by the L.A. Times writer, Al Martinez. It was a comforting article, actually. Makes me feel like I'm not alone. He talks about accompanying the famous writer, Irving Wallace, to a signing in San Francisco --a disaster in which Wallace sat in a San Francisco book store for a full hour gazing at fifty white plastic chairs--with not one person sitting in them. As Martinez says, "Absolutely no one came to buy a book." Wallace was so incensed he never did another signing.

Then Martinez talks about his own signing--where he only faced 25 white plastic chairs . . . with the same dismal results. Nobody ever sat down in any of them. He claims he did sell five books, however--three of which he bought himself. He thought he'd sold another one to a man in overalls who stood for some time thumbing through the book--then made a sour face and put it down. Martinez says, "It's just as well. I don't sell to men in overalls." He admits he stays for the whole hour, "amusing myself by humming and scratching and reading what I wrote and trying to figure out why I wrote it."

The last chapter in my book, "A Clown in the Trunk" is called, "The White Plastic Chairs." And it's all about all those chairs nobody ever sits in, and how, unlike Wallace and Martinez, I'm willing to pursue people around the book store, striking up conversations designed to entice them into opening their wallets. My husband says, "I suppose you put them in a choke hold." Well, not quite. But I thought of it.

But now that a certain blonde bimbo and her husband have attracted worldwide fame by breaking into a White House dinner, they'll probably get a book deal--and sell loads of books. As for me, I've considered running through the UCLA/SC football game in my underwear. Has any grandmother ever done that? Would it give me a big enough name to sell books? I'd love to consider it. But first I'll have to lose a few pounds.

Anyone out there have a better idea??


  1. Some signings at bookstores go smashingly well. It is hard to say why a signing in Portland will attract a couple dozen greatly interested folks and the same author/book/marketing in Seattle the next day bombs. Regardless, events NOT in bookstores always seem to generate greater interest -- receptions in homes, conferences, workshops at libraries, speaking gigs at trade shows, even readings in coffee shops.