By Louise Ure
We've all done it, sometimes on purpose and sometimes when we were forced to. And the results can be the stuff good dreams are made of or the basis for a really scary horror story.
I'm talking about double (or multiple) author signing events.
You know how it goes. Maybe you and a friend have books coming out about the same time. Maybe your publisher asked you if you'd share a book tour event with one of their new authors. More often than not, it's the bookseller who requests it if they have two authors in town the same day.
For the most part double signings are a good thing. Having more than one author there can increase the audience attendance for an event. It can introduce readers and fans of one author to another writer's work. And it can be a hell of a lot more fun to have somebody else to share that signing desk with if nobody shows up at all.
But then there's the flip side.
- The egomaniacal fellow-signer who takes up fifty-five minutes of a one-hour event.
- The cozy writer who goes all bug-eyed every time you use the word "damn."
- The thrill-seeker who uses all the m*****f***** words over the microphone, right next to the childrens section.
- The insecure writer who asks how much of an advance you got for the book and then, when you don't answer, tells that audience that his book is better than yours because he probably got paid more.
- The scantily-clad romantic suspense writer whose bra looks like a flying buttress, and whose reading includes acting out a particularly acrobatic sex scene.
- The otherwise-perfectly-nice writer who, while answering an audience question, says he enjoyed your first book a great deal more than the new one.
- Or, my particular horror, the self-published writer who spends the entire time telling the audience that any book published by one of the big New York houses is "derivative and uncreative."
With friends like these, who needs enemies? It's enough to make you want to go on a blog tour.
But there are some folks who do it right. One in particular, who did it more than right. And this is a love letter to him.
It's just that I'm a year too late in telling him.
Early last January when The Fault Tree was released, I was checking the booksellers' websites in preparation for my tour and saw that Chris Acevedo at Tucson's Clues Unlimited, had booked me with a debut author named Leighton Gage.
I checked him out online. Blood of the Wicked. An interesting sounding book, set in Brazil. Good blurbs and reviews. And we shared a common background of a life in international advertising. Okay. I can help build an audience for a new kid on tour.
Now you've got to understand. Tucson is home territory for me. My family there is almost four hundred strong. Everybody I ever went to school with still lives within the city limits. I've got my initials etched in sidewalks from the Catalina Mountains to the Rincons.
And Clues Unlimited is a teeny tiny place. Enough room for thirty to stand shoulder to shoulder, if they've all showered recently and nobody's wearing anything thicker than a t-shirt.
I wrote to Leighton and warned him what he'd be up against.
"We'll have a good crowd, but there's not a lot of room to sit so we don't want to keep them standing there waiting too long. After all, my mom's ninety-four. Maybe we each do a five to ten minute talk and then take questions?"
He agreed and said he'd go first.
On the night, the bookstore filled quickly. Maybe 75 people or so. All of them my family and high school graduating class. Leighton and I sat at two separate presentation tables like undermanned debate teams.
He stood and said, "None of you came here to see me this evening. You're here to see Louise. I've read her book and it's fabulous. Let's just hear what she has to say."
And he sat down.
I hadn't asked this of him. I hadn't expected this from him. I hadn't wanted this from him.
But rather than demur, I went on with my planned five-to-ten minute presentation, and then when the questions started, I made sure that we both answered them.
If one of my high school friends asked "How can you write about Tucson when you don't live here anymore?" I would give a short answer and then ask Leighton, "What about the Brazil you describe. Is it drawn from today's headlines or a memory of all the time you spent there?'
It turned into a real discussion instead of a presentation, and I think was a much better evening than any other way we could have done it.
And when it came time to sign books? My whole family lined up to buy Leighton's book instead of mine. (Naturally.)
Since then, Leighton and I have become closer friends. Close enough to keep in touch, and for me to offer an author comment (I hate the word blurb) for his next book, Buried Strangers .
will haunt you long after you've finished his books.
Buried Strangers, his second novel, is pitch perfect in its description
of the poverty, corruption and violence of Brazil and the evil that men can do.
It's a book you can't afford to miss.
Don't be surprised if you find yourself dreaming in Portuguese."
So, all you writers out there who want to know how to pull off the perfect double signing, just ask Leighton Gage. Share the limelight. Be kind to each other. Respect the other writer's skills and background and time allocation. Have fun. Their success will redound to you.
Especially if it comes from the heart.
So, Rati', as we get ready to tuck in for the holiday, want to share any horror stories (or successes) from double signings? You don't have to name names if you really don't want to.