Tuesday, June 2, 2009

When I Almost Met Neil Gaiman: Part 1

I'm still trying to process BEA. It was a whirlwind weekend, that's for sure.

It kicked off with my bus ride from Boston to NYC on Thursday night. At first I was nonplussed that the guy next to me seemed to be a talker (and broad too, we nuzzled shoulders during the entire six hour trip and for those of you who don't know me, let me just tell you now: I am not a nuzzler). But it turned out he was a book sales rep on his way to BEA. We had some good talks about the death of independent bookstores and the questionable evils of Kindle (he seemed to think it was straight up evil, while I'm *trying* to remain open-minded).

I crashed at my friend Fish's place out in Astoria so we had to get up at 6 AM or so in order to get ready and meet his friend so we could split a cab to the Javitz Center. Once there I learned two critical facts: 1. that I would be acting as a "book pimp" at the booth and 2. That HarperCollins was RIGHT NEXT TO US, meaning I would be only inches (okay, feet) away from Neil Gaiman!

(Which reminds me, has anyone ever thought that a follow up to Sarah Silverman's "I'm F*cking Matt Damon" should be "I'm F*cking Neil Gaiman" and that it would be brilliant??)

Once I discovered that I would be a book pimp for the weekend, I immediately regretted my tasteful no-I'm-not-a-penniless-writer-why-do-you-ask black pants, black top, beige sweater with turquoise jewelry--for personality--ensemble I'd chosen for my big First Day. Should have gone with the boa and plastic, jewel-encrusted cane. My first mistake of the weekend.

As a book pimp my job was to stand outside the lemonade stand area where Midpoint authors were signing and giving away free copies of their books. FREE copies. Signed. By real live authors. You are surely rolling your eyes now and thinking to yourself how easy my job was because free books sell themselves. But no. Many times people didn't even want to stop and have the book signed, even as the author looked on with meek, puppy dog eyes, pen poised and trembling ever so slightly. They just wanted to take the book and run--when they took it at all.

But I was determined to do my best. I mean, when I'm published and no one knows my name, and some unpublished writer is assigned as my book pimp, I'd hope she would do everything she could to attract people to come over and give my book--and me--a chance.

Sounds noble, right? I thought so. But you'd be surprised how many people shot me pitying glances as they breezed by, as though I were prostituting a book instead of trying to help a new author get noticed. Maybe this unwillingness to acknowledge the sales side of publishing is part of the reason the industry is going under...

But now I'm getting off topic. Because I know what you really want to hear about is NEIL GAIMAN.

But first, back to the poor, unknown, fledgling authors. We had one scheduled for every half hour, without a break in between. I was constantly reading the back blurbs, assessing the book and then figuring out who best to pitch it to as people walked by. I took one bathroom break ALL DAY LONG, which is pretty epic for this water guzzler. Needless to say I barely ate or drank anything either.

But I was saving up my brownie points, hoping against hope that I might be able to slip away in time for the Neil Gaiman signing at 2 PM....

No comments:

Post a Comment