Hey there, WYMOP readers!
So . . . I have this book.
I know, I know. You’ve heard about it, seen the cover—you’re sick of hearing about it. I’m actually a little tired of telling people about it myself. And you see, the joke’s on me.
Many writers are introverts, preferring to work on something alone, eschewing the company of other people for the most part. It isn’t necessarily that they don’t like people, but sometimes they don’t need them. Not all the time.
I’m like that.
Oh, I can be all talky-talk at work. Sometimes. But when I’m not, I just plug in my earbuds and listen to an audiobook and get to work. That’s what I’m there for, after all. Days can go by where I don’t talk to anyone in my office unless it’s something work-related—usually they’re interrupting me to ask a question or (in the case of my boss) give an order. I’m good with that.
In social situations it’s the same deal. I can be in a room full of people, all having conversations around me, and I can pass the time just observing them—and not in a creepy “Hey, that dude’s been staring at me for the past half-hour; can somebody call the cops?” kind of way. Well, not after that one time . . .
So writing seems to be the perfect thing for me. I love telling stories, but I’m not very comfortable with an actual audience. And I can tell you a story that I made up, no sweat, but talking about myself? Christ, why do you think I write fiction? If I thought I was interesting, I’d be tits-deep in an autobiography by now, giggling maniacally as I typed “ . . . and then I turned five, and it was all whew, watch out, world!” But I’m not, and I can’t imagine I ever will be. I just don’t like talking about myself. I mean . . . what is there to say?
Thus the joke being on me regarding this book I have out. It’s all me, one hundred percent me, and written by no one but me. Hell, I didn’t even ask anyone else to do the introduction, I just kind of winged it. Nearly every other book I’ve been in was an anthology: a collection of short stories from a few different authors. When I did an event or show, I might not have been flogging my wares to all the passers-by, but if they did stop and ask, then at least I had something to say: I’m pretty good at talking up my fellow authors.
“But what will I say about Echoes?” I asked my publisher. Whined, actually. With that dragging-stomping feet thing that little kids do—it might not be dignified, but at least it’s a little eye-catching in a 200 lb man.
“Flag people down and talk about the book,” she said, over-enunciating slightly, like I’d just stepped off a short, yellow bus.
“But it’s all me!” I was twisting back and forth now, letting my arms just flop loose. It looks bratty on a five-year-old girl, but I maintain that my forty-six-year-old-manness gives the move a little . . . okay, I got nothing. It still looks bratty.
“Then you’re going to have to talk about yourself,” she said, in a very end-of-the-conversation-and-don’t-give-me-any-backtalk voice. Male readers out there will know what I’m talking about. Every. Single. One.
Anyway, it looks like now at these events I’ll have to start engaging the crowd myself, and trying to sell them my book, with nothing to talk about but me and my own writing. So, in a panic situation, I did what any somewhat shy, socially inexperienced introvert would do: I Googled it!
From what I managed to piece together from my own, in-depth research on the subject (thank you, Wikipedia!), there are three things I’ll need to do:
- Choose a single person out of the crowd, and speak to them
- Make a connection with my audience
- Interact with my audience
Well cool! I can do all that, right? No problem. So I’ve come up with a plan.
1. Choose a single person and speak to them
This makes sense to me: I mean, if the crowd is what’s bothering me, I don’t have to deal with the whole crowd, right? They can listen in if they want, but I only have to talk to a single individual—and to do that, all I need to do is get their attention. To this end, I’ve been practicing something I like to call The Attention Getter. I stand in front of the mirror and look myself in the eye (pretending it’s someone in the crowd, I have a good imagination), brace myself for a second, and then shout “HEY!” at the top of my lungs. I can’t imagine anybody ignoring me after that little maneuver!
2. Make a connection with my audience
Okay, this was the easy one to figure out. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary (one of my dearest friends, by the way), a connection is “ something that joins or connects two or more things,” or “the act of connecting two or more things or the state of being connected.” So I have to connect, or join, with my audience . . . or, at least the single person I’ve chosen to speak to. All I have to do is get a good grip on their arm, or shoulder, or maybe I can get them to shake hands—and then not let go until they buy my book.
3. Interact with my audience
This one was a little harder to figure out. I mean, interact? That means they’re acting while I’m acting, and vice versa, and how the hell am I supposed to do that while I’m trying to choose a person to put a wrist lock on? Then it occurred to me that the same “choose a single person” rule would apply here as well. And maybe . . . maybe I can try the whole interacting thing if The Attention Getter fails. That clinched it for me: if I shout and they don’t stop, I’m chucking a book at their head.
It’s perfect! See, not only does that mean they’re dodging while I’m throwing—acting at the same time!—this covers what would have been the fourth thing on my list if I wasn’t running out of time tonight and had to get this blog posted pronto: introducing your audience to the product.
So there’s my sweet plan, and if you time it right, some weekend soon you can see me throw the whole caper into action as a huge, bookselling combo plate: hurling a paperback at someone’s head while screaming “HEY!” and diving across the sale table in a cross-body tackle.
. . . Of course, if you time it right in a different way, you could watch one of the officers put his hand atop my head to guide me into the backseat of the cruiser. In which case they’ll be putting me in a nice cell, far away from all the crowds . . .which is where I kind of wanted to be in the first place.
Talk to you later!