LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION…SMB!
You’re on the whirlwind book tour. Self-promotion at its most shameless: Good Morning America, New York, DC, LA, radio interviews, book signings. Kind of glamorous, kind of exhausting. You get asked the same questions over and over again, you reformat the same answers. You tell yourself that this is what it takes to sell books, and you remind yourself that you are lucky to have the attention. There are plenty of new authors out there that would kill for this publicity. And the truth is—you enjoy the spotlight. It’s fun. And flattering.
Then you walk into the Seattle Mystery Bookshop, and all of a sudden you remember why you wrote the book in the first place. Because you had a fun story to tell, and you wanted people to read it. SMB is what writing a thriller is all about: a huge selection of mysteries and thrillers, a staff that’s read practically everything that’s ever been written in the genre, and readers who care.
You sit back in the big brown leather chair, bottle of water at your side, your book laid out in front of you…and you meet your audience. Up close and personal. You find out why they came into the store in the first place. What kind of read are they looking for, which covers attract their attention, what part of the pitch for your novel excites them. Or bores them. You’re at the point of sale moment: when the buyer makes that fateful decision to spend their money on your book…or not.
They scan the cover, peruse the blurbs, the author bio, check out your picture. Some of them pull out their wallets. “Looks fun.” “I’ll give it to my husband as a late Christmas present.” Others don’t. “I’ll wait for paperback.” “I’ll get it at the library.”
It’s an amazing learning experience. You’re not talking about your book to some faceless radio audience. Your audience is three feet away, your book in their hands. And then it comes clear to you: it’s not about how many books you sell. It’s about each individual reader’s experience of the story you wrote. The fun they have, what they learn from it, how it touches them. That’s what matters. That’s why you do what you do.
In the end, SMB blows GMA out of the water.
I can’t wait to sit in the big brown chair again.