I love book signings, even when I'm not the one sitting behind the table with pen in hand. I guess it's the air of excitement, the chance to see that rare creature -- a publisher author -- live and in the flesh. For most of us who have spent a significant part of our lives with our noses pressed into a book, authors are like exotic animals. They live far away and you usually only get to see one on TV or in a magazine. Book events are a chance to get up close and semi-personal. If you're lucky, the author is a proficient public speaker and you get a glimmer of what makes them tick.
Recently, I attended a reading/signing event for Brandon Sanderson. For those of you who don't follow fantasy, Brandon has just taken over the WHEEL OF TIME series after the untimely and unfortunate passing of its creator, Robert Jordan. WOT has a huge following across the world and it was clear from his first remarks that Brandon fully comprehends the colossal shoes he has stepped into. In person, Brandon is gracious, friendly, humble, and engaging -- all the things you wish to see and hear in an author the first time you meet them. Furthermore, he took the time to speak to every person who approached him to get a book signed. When it was my turn, I proudly informed Mr. Sanderson that he and I share the same literary agency, and that my debut novel will be coming out soon. He made the appropriate comments of congratulation, which led me to congratulating him for such a successful book launch. It was a short exchange, but I left the table feeling all warm and fuzzy inside.
And that is exactly the feeling we want to impart to our readers, that we care about them and we want to produce works of high quality that they will enjoy for years to come. For me, it's a bit of a difficulty, not because I don't feel those things, but because I'm a bit of a recluse. Public engagements are a frightening prospect. I have watched seasoned professionals work a crowd with practiced ease, and known that I could never be that person. Hopefully, I will strike a balance between hermit and salesman. So, if you attend one of my events sometime in the future and you see me sitting/standing alone (pen in hand), come over and say hello. If you promise not to laugh at my tie, I'll promise not to pressure you into buying one of my books.