Last night’s appearance at the Wilton Library was delightful, and many thanks to the staff at the library for putting this event together. I sat on a panel of first-time authors, and we spent the evening talking about our books, the process by which each of us was published, and answering lots of interesting and insightful questions. There was a very large and engaging audience, and despite not seeing my wife and daughter for most of the day, the experience couldn’t have been more enjoyable.
Sitting on the panel with me were authors Jessica Bram and Margot Berwin. Jessica is the author of Happily Ever After Divorce: Notes of a Joyful Journey, a nonfiction string of interconnected essays dealing with her experiences with divorce. She also served as moderator for the discussion and teaches writing classes through the Westport Writer’s Workshop. The book sounds interesting and somewhat unique in that it captures the positive side that a divorce can sometimes offer, which I can also attest to.
Margot Berwin is the author of Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire, and it turns out that she and I are a lot alike in terms of our writing process and thoughts on the publishing world. Like me, she does not outline her plots ahead of time, and as a result, her first drafts tend to meander a bit, as do mine. Her road to becoming a published author is an entertaining and inspiring story, and most impressively, Hothouse Flower is the third novel she has written but the first that has been sold. I give her a great deal of credit for her tenacity and persistence. While I like to think that I would have continued to write even if Something Missing had not been published (and I did begin Unexpectedly, Milo on the same day that I finished writing Something Missing, long before an offer on the book was ever made), I’m not sure about the degree of enthusiasm and diligence that I could have mustered knowing that two other manuscripts were sitting in a drawer somewhere, unsold.
As the night wrapped up, I couldn’t help but think that perhaps the multiple-author appearance could be a better way for authors and booksellers to guarantee larger, more engaging audiences at events like these. Unless you are a bestselling author or well-known personality, there’s always the chance that you’ll arrive at a bookstore or a library and find two people waiting to hear you speak, one who nods off during your talk and the other who realizes halfway through the reading that they are in the wrong place. While this has thankfully not happened to me (yet), it’s always something I dread. But in partnering up with another author, as I will be doing with appearances in October in MA and NH, you increase your chances at larger, more enthusiastic audiences. While you may sacrifice a little face time in the process, the interest and chemistry that two or more authors can create may outweigh a slightly shorter time to speak.
Along this vein, I will be partnering up with local authors in MA and NH, some of whom are working with tiny, independent publishers and who will most certainly bring in a sizable audience of family and friends to these appearances—guaranteed warm bodies right off the bat. While a large percentage of the audience will be there to listen to and support my partnering author specifically, I will have the opportunity to introduce myself and my book to an entirely new set of potential readers.
It makes a lot of sense to me. Am I missing anything?