Mesmerized, I watched the honky geese until the sky was once again gray and misty, a gooseless panorama.
Then, suddenly, one last goose–flapping its wings like Jerry Rice in Dancing With The Stars–appeared in the distance. As it [the goose, not Jerry Rice] flew over my roof, it gave one long, rusty honk, as if to say, "Yo, gaggle, wait for me!"
And for some reason I can’t fathom, it reminded me of the misconceptions I’d had about the pub biz.
Example: When I finished writing my first-ever book, THROW DARTS AT A CHEESECAKE [the title is from a quote on dieting by the late, great Gilda Radner; there were 4 lines in the quote, which, to me, meant 4 books in the series; I don’t "do" alphabets], I thought: Hoo-boy, a publisher will buy my book, I’ll quit waiting tables, and before you can say Jackie Robinson [Ellie Bernstein’s cat] I’ll be rich and famous.
There’s this little thing called "promotion," but I’ll save that for another blog. All I’ll say, for now, is that my manager at The Olive Garden [where I waited tables] gave me an enormous cheesecake for my very first [mall] booksigning. It attracted kids like a magnet. "Is that free, lady?" "Is that really free, lady?" "Can I have a piece, lady?" "Can I have another piece, lady?" "Hey, y’all, this lady says the cake is free."
Where are your parents? I thought, as I watched a gaggle of pre-teens dribble cheesecake crumbs on the small stack of brand-spanking-new hardcovers waiting to be bought and signed.
Finally, a mom pushed a stroller up against my table. "Is that a cookbook?" she asked, pointing to THROW DARTS AT A CHEESECAKE with her double wedge of free cheesecake.
"You could call it that," I replied, not quite lying through my fake smile, wondering what my royalty payment would be on one book.
Here’s another missed-conception: I honestly thought if I signed any left-over books [in the case of my first mall signing, that meant all but the one bought by the cookbook lady], the books couldn’t be returned to the publisher.
After a signing in Denver–where I quickly learned that you don’t schedule a booksigning opposite a Broncos game–I scribbled my signature on the dozen or so left-over CHEESECAKE hardcovers with a red pen. I can’t remember why I used a red pen . . . maybe I thought red looked spiffy, maybe I thought it looked like, you know, blood. It was the one and only time I signed with red ink. Eighteen months later, at a signing in L.A. for BEAT UP A COOKIE [the second book in my "diet club" series], someone handed me a copy of CHEESECAKE to personalize.
It was already signed. . .
In red ink.
Next week I’ll cover fan misconceptions, subtitled: "Hey, I seen your books in the bookstore so you must be filthy rich."
Beatrice is poking my ribs with her elbow, hinting that it’s time to stop blogging, reminding me that when we were Girl Scouts [or maybe Brownies] we’d sing, "There were 7 in the bed and the littlest said ‘roll over, roll over,’ so we all rolled over and one fell out…"
Over and out,
I know what you mean, Deni. By the time I started writing novels, I had lost most misconceptions, but when I finished my first screenplay, I figured it was just a question of postage before I was being flown to Los Angeles for my first meeting with Steven Spielberg. It’s been some years since then, and Steve still doesn’t answer my calls…
Misconceptions about the pub biz? What? You mean it’s tricky? Confusing? Well, gosh-I never thought of the biz as being confusion – just insane.
Deni,I loved your intro to this piece. Only you would use a stray goose to write about the biz.
As to misconceptions, well, I continue to be amazed by how many of them sneak up on me when I think I have the biz figured out.
I guess it’ll all make me stronger, right?
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