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During some of my forays into publishing, I wasn’t prepared for the people that came after me with various questions and off-the-wall ideas. A young woman in Paris did her dissertation on a small humor book I wrote and sent reams of questions each week. How did she find meaning in the pages of that little mental fart? She did and I took her work as seriously as she did. I hope she got an A, or AH as it were. I don’t know what any of it meant, really.
I spoke at a conference and a woman there seemed to just want to follow and touch me. I’d smile, introduce myself and try to talk. She wasn’t having it. She just wanted to follow and touch. Follow and touch. When someone asked her if she had bought my book, I overheard her say, “she wrote a book?”
The real terror of old-fashioned publishing were the live call-in radio shows. I remember a guy – a first time author – who edited a book of famous writers talking about dogs. During his first question in his first interview for his first book ever, the disc jokey of a live radio show in North Dakota asked, “why do dogs lick their butts so much?” I could hear his tears behind their suppressed sniggers.
I got talked into a corner during a live radio show in Louisiana where a young woman on the phone came unhinged during our exchange. Seems her elderly neighbor had been conning her into during her laundry for months and her rage was at a break point. Maybe this wasn’t about the laundry but BOY was she upset. The host excused herself to make sure the young woman got the number of a hotline of some kind. I forgot what I talked to her listeners about while she was gone.
Don’t ever miss the “glamorous” days of publishing. It was weird and kinda dumb and the last thing anyone seemed interested in was the book. Famous writers would have to travel from city to city, going on local radio shows and chucking water balloons at commuters or passing out cookies at the door of a store.
Today, books are sold off samples and never before has the actual writing been more important. Thank God. I can sell it instead of talk to a woman who won’t talk back and keeps trying to touch me. It’s the way a book should be sold – like music – you hear or see a piece of it and want to buy it and explore it further and deeper.
I miss little about the days of yore and love the anonymity of the internet.:) I just can’t go to any more of those conferences.
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