I like book signings because they are like Stand Up... without the late hours.
I used to do Stand Up and I loved it because I got to write my own material and perform it in front of an audience. Often people had far too much to drink and liked to heckle… I could handle the drunk audience, what I couldn’t handle were the late night hours. I like to go to sleep by eleven and that’s when stand up begins…at least for the baby comics. So, my career as the next Robin Williams was short lived.
Last night, I did a signing at Vromans Bookstore for The Affair. It was something akin to Stand Up, only it started at 7pm: Bankers hours for the literary crowd.
Doing a book signing is a lot like performing. Sure, you read from your material and must be articulate and audible, but you also must be engaging. Like Stand Up, you never know how the audience is going to react and their heckles are more politically correct…they come in the form of questions about you, about your book, frankly about anything they want because when they raise their hand and you call on them…you have officially turned over the floor.
Last night, there were sixty five people at my book signing and about fifteen of them asked questions. Good questions. Smart questions. Personal questions. I learned, long ago, that when someone asks you a question you can’t immediately answer that you should take a sip of something to buy the extra five seconds of procrastination time you need to formulate your answer. I had a glass of water and a cup of tea prepped on the table; however, I didn’t need them. Because these were good questions, honest questions, sincere questions…primarily about writing and “my process”. Now, “my process”…when I write, how I write, my writing schticks– are questions which I could answer all day long, because there is no right answer. All writers have their own journey: Ask 100 writers about their “process” and you’ll probably get 100 answers. Similar; albeit, varied.
So, book signings for me are like stand up and last night was a particularly successful evening.
And I was in bed by 10:15.