In our blog, The Mesdames Walk the Talk: The Setup: Mme. Joan O’Callaghan wrote about what goes into preparing for a library reading. This month, Mesdames Rosemary McCracken, Lynne Murphy and Catherine Astolfo write about the personal side of public appearances.
Before the Mesdames got into full swing, I organized a few library appearances for a fellow writer and myself. It was a lot of work. Joan O’Callaghan’s efforts have made it easy for her fellow Mesdames.
Library appearances don’t often generate many book sales at the actual event but the branch usually buys the books of the authors who are speaking so they will be available for their members to borrow. And books in the library mean payments to their authors through Canada’s Public Lending Right Program. Not to mention word-of-mouth publicity from more people reading our books.
You meet all sorts of people at library appearances. People who love reading and who love crime fiction are a delight to meet. I met an old friend I’d lost contact with who came out after seeing my name on the library’s poster announcing the event. But some people can present a problem, like the book-lifting lady (See Cathy Astolfo’s comments below.)
My hat is off to the librarians who make these events possible. One librarian in particular I’d like to thank: Janet Nanos at Toronto Public Library’s S. Walter Stewart Branch. She really went all out for author Steve Shrott and myself a few year ago.
I have learned that the success of a reading depends greatly on the effort the local librarian has put into publicizing the event. Joan can only start things off. The librarians put up posters in the branch and elsewhere, contact local media and see that the branch’s book club turns out. At Riverdale Library we had an excellent turnout in spite of a snowstorm.
My personal best memories: The reading at Kennedy-Eglinton Library where a teenaged girl showed up with her mother for moral support. She was an aspiring writer and had many questions. Melodie Campbell was especially helpful and the young woman was very appreciative. That was one event where I felt we made a difference to someone.
Most unusual event; Not at a library but at Signs Restaurant on Yonge St. in Toronto. The restauarant employs deaf waiters and had sign language interpreters for our readings. Unfortunately, I couldn’t watch the interpreter while I was reading. I would have liked to see what she did with the sentence, “You girls are growing pot in your pots.”
Best Ego Booster: At the Guelph Public Library I read from my story Being Leda Fox in Thirteen o’clock. And a lady actually bought the book so she could see how it came out!
As you know from Mme. Joan’s article on arranging reading events for authors, there are many pieces to the organizational puzzle. Lists of items to ensure you cover (e.g. what should the authors wear [or not wear] on their heads?). One of the items on that list should not have to be theft. Of course, we authors understand the temptation that overtakes a reader when they spy our novels and anthologies sitting there on the table, unsupervised, gorgeous and just waiting to hop into your bag. Yet the key word in this cautionary tale must be: unsupervised. Change that to supervised. Even at a reading for strictly librarians, I lost four books – the entire collection of my Emily Taylor series that was in a boxed set, lovingly crafted by my husband as a sample.
At another reading, I was cleverly outwitted by an audience member who was “just looking” and then would “gladly pay you Tuesday for a Sweet Karoline today.” Which, in the end, translated to the loss of five books. Advice to organizers everywhere: invite a friend who doesn’t mind sitting next to the book table. Sometimes they’ll even handle your financial transactions for you. After a reading, we authors are often dazed by the attention, adulation and admiration, so much so that we don’t recognize the fourth “A”: acquisitiveness.
Coming up:Mesdames M.H. Callway and Melodie Campbell share their experiences when meeting the public.