Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Christine: A Happy Dance on the Heels of Multiple Missteps

I’m in the midst of a publicity high, so I hope you’ll indulge my happy dance.

I had a book-signing yesterday at my hometown library, Hawkes Library in West Point, Georgia, and it was the stuff dreams are made of . . . surprise sightings of old friends, reconnections with former teachers, introductions to amazing people . . . the works. The librarian had even taken the time to find books I checked out as a child, showing me check-out cards containing my scrawled signature.

I’m clinging tightly to the memories because, frankly, some of my publicity opportunities have left me feeling like the Jeopardy contestant who finishes the second round in the hole and will not be joining his competitors for Final Jeopardy. (“Ooooohhh, you just couldn’t quite get the hang of that buzzer. . . .”)

Don’t get me wrong; I still have to pinch myself to grasp that my books are getting published, and I’m grateful for every publicity opportunity. But I’m not exactly a born salesman (my Girl Scout pitch was, “You don’t want to buy any of these cookies, do you? No, really, you don’t have to. . . .”) and my inner introvert is sometimes loath to loosen its death grip on my personality. It doesn’t help, of course, that many book-publicity opportunities are awkward under the best of circumstances (“No, I don’t want a copy of your book, but can you watch my purse while I run to the restroom?”) or that the economy is in the tank (“No, I don’t want a copy of your book, but I was wondering if you could chip in toward my utility bill.”)

In the spirit of keeping my ego in check after the chorus of atta-boys I heard yesterday, here are some past experiences that keep me humble:

* The time the bookstore manager suggested I help him set up a Twilight display since I wasn’t exactly contracting writers’ cramp at the book-signing table.

* The time the school media specialist decided my author visit qualified me as a sub while she slipped away for “lunch” and emerged three hours later with a new hair color.

* The time I opened the floor for questions after an elementary-school presentation and was asked, “What’s that thing on your face?”

* The time the snarky senior in the AP English class asked if I wouldn’t mind discussing “real” literature.

* The time the host of a live radio show asked me to read an excerpt from my book which, um, I didn’t exactly, um, have handy. (Okay, that one was my fault entirely.)

* The time the television show host asked if I could minimize the head-bobbing so my chin would stop knocking the microphone.

You get the idea. But I’ve got to say, for everyone who’s ever averted their gaze at a book-signing or asked me to point them toward Snooki Polizzi’s latest tome, there’s that sixth-grade teacher walking in with a huge smile, a big hug and an “I knew you could it!” affirmation that leaves you floating on a cloud. Thanks, Mrs. Scott.