The official book launch for Accordion Dreams was Friday, at The Booksmith in San Francisco. I survived! I even enjoyed it.
I was making myself a little crazy with the preparations, I now realize. Re-read my book over 2 days, earlier in the week. That part was smart. (To my great surprise, it didn't seem half bad!) Put little stickies by likely passages to read out loud. But then I had too many.
I re-read everything I had about bookstore readings. Tried to have realistic expectations. Reminded myself of all the dire stories of low turn outs, even for the famous. Here's the best one: A prominent author had 3 people show. After the reading, 2 were arrested. Turned out they'd just escaped from prison.
Then, the night before, I sat down with my husband, to figure out what tunes we were going to play. (Me on accordion, Steve on guitar or fiddle.) Then I started fretting about how to artfully weave them in to the reading, the chatting. I won't even get into my wardrobe worries!
Then I reminded myself of probably the best advice I read: people who go to an author event don't expect a synopsis of the book, and they probably don't want to listen to you read for long stretches. They just want an experience that will give them a feel for you and your book. They should come away with something. Maybe your book, maybe not, but something positive. So I figured I could manage that. It's not so different from what I do when our band plays. (And heaven knows, I'm used to putting on a good face when there is a low turnout!)
Weather was terrible on Friday, naturally. Cold, raining. And another big literary event was going on in the city. I knew no one would come to see an unknown author with a book from a university press. Then my husband got lost, driving from his work to the BART station where he was going to meet me. He was in a bad mood, which didn't help mine. We took a few wrong turns on the way to the bookstore. I'd already been warned: parking is impossible.
But then it all fell into place. We got there early, found parking right in front. Discovered a nice restaurant 2 doors down for a light pre-dinner and a glass of wine. (This was in the Haight, no less.)
I give a lot of the credit to Thomas Gladysz, the longtime events coordinator at Booksmith. A real class act, as they say. Helped us haul our instruments in, put me at ease. When the time came, he gave a great introduction. When I forgot something during the presentation, he tactfully reminded me. Doesn't your band have a date coming up? Wasn't there something about CDs you're giving out? (If you have a chance to do a book event with Thomas: run, don't walk, in his direction!)
A few people came early. I resolved to just chat with them, have a good time. People kept trickling in. At the end, there were around 17-18, I'd guess. Okay, 4 were music friends, including the bass player and former drummer in my band. But no one was a blood relative. A really lovely crowd. Everyone was interested, attentive.
It all worked. I even liked the sound of my own words. What a shock! After, I signed 5 books. (A decent number, according to Thomas). I tried hard to write my name legibly with the lovely new pen one of my kids just gave me for my birthday.
What a relief to have it over! I'm even ready to do it again :-)
Causes Blair Kilpatrick Supports
Louisiana Folk Roots, National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, Habitat for Humanity/Musician's Village New Orleans, Doctors Without Borders