Sunday, March 16, 2008

A Pleasant Surprise

Driving home from one of my library talks last week it occurred to me
that it was almost one year ago that I started doing signings and
events. So by now I should have a pretty good idea of what to
expect, right? Nope.

I've probably done at least 20 of these library talks and they
usually run around 8-10 people and last between an hour and an hour
and a half, consisting of a talk and then Q & A.
The usual 'remuneration' comes in the form of being able to sell
books at the end of the talk. Sometimes the library orders them from
the local bookstore and other times I'll sell them from my own
stock. So basically you get to move a few books, get some very nice
publicity and have a lot of fun. So like I said, I thought I knew
exactly what to expect.
But I was wrong.

I first suspected that something was different when I walked into
the room. Every seat was filled. I was expecting a dozen people at
the most and there were at least 3 times that number. And these were
not just bored, warm bodies who wandered in looking for a soft chair
and some free brownies - they were engaged and interested, with lots
of really good questions. And instead of lasting an hour or so, it
went on over two, until closing time.
Oh, and I forgot to mention that when I came in there was big table
at the back of the room with a large display of my books manned by
someone who I expected was one of the library staff.
Once again I was wrong. Turns out she was from Barnes & Noble. So at
the end, the library director thanked me, everyone applauded (also a
first!) and the nice lady from B&N sold my books. Then people came
up to ask me questions and get their books signed and I got what
turned out to be my biggest surprise of all.

Often when I book these gigs, the head of the library will ask me
what my `fee' is. Since I'm basically doing it for the exposure, I
always answer whatever their standard `honorarium' is or whatever
they want – which usually varies from $25 - $50 to nothing. And
given library budgets today, it more often than not, winds up being
closer to the `nothing' side. And that's OK because much like music,
you do this because you love it.
So you can imagine my surprise when I got home and looked at the
check that the library director had handed me at the end of my talk
and found that it was not only more that the standard
token `honorarium`, it was a lot more! So much more, that for a few
fleeting moments I had an actual `delusions of grandeur' spasm where
I thought, "Wow! This must be what it feels like to be James
Patterson or John Grisham!"
Fortunately it quickly passed when my wife told me to stop drooling
on the check and go take out the garbage (do you suppose that James
Patterson has to take out his own garbage?)

At any rate I guess that it proves that whenever you think you've
got it all figured out, often this business can really turn around
and surprise you … and sometimes very pleasantly!

All the best
Ric Wasley
• Shadow of Innocence – 2007
• Acid Test – 2004

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