So, the paperback is out, and it's time for a whole new round of readings, and I'm feeling that familiar anxiety coming on, the pre-event jitters. Don't get me wrong. I'm not plagued by stage fright or worried about standing in front of a crowd with spinach in my teeth (although I'm sure I've done that). I don't fear the audience; I fear the empty room.
When the hardcover first hits the shelves, you can pretty much bank on a good turnout for your first event. Bill it as a "book party," serve food and wine, send an email to everyone you know, and you're guaranteed to fill the seats. But as the events stretch on, the seats begin to look empty.
I bring my son whenever possible. He's three and loud and makes enough noise for ten people. But he's really small, so he's not fooling anyone. Sometimes I'll get lucky and a rowdy book club will show up, or my husband will drag all his co-workers out (I think he bribes them with doughnuts). Sometimes, I'll arrive to find that the bookstore has set up seating for forty, but by the time it's ready to begin, there are only four or five people in the chairs--and one of them is the event coordinator, and one of them is my husband, and one of them is my son, who is eating the vinyl off the chair.
So here's to everyone who's ever faced an empty room. I'm thinking of starting a new business, a sort of escort service for the mid-list writer, only instead of hot dates I'll rent out a reading audience. I'll provide them with book-specific comments (On page 117, I loved what you did with Ramona!) and cash, so they can buy books and therefore make the writer look really appealing to the event manager.
Just wondering...what do YOU do to fill the empty chairs?