... are not like pulling teeth, not really; but they're not as glamorous as everybody thinks.
I assume that if I were as famous as, say, John Grisham, book signings could be a nice ego trip, what with groupies and adoring fans lining up around the block. In reality, book signings are boring. Most people would pass you by without acknowledging your existence. And if by chance they notice you or your books, they'd mouth the words of your book's title, then walk away quickly. And once in a blue moon, you might be lucky enough to get a smile from them.
And occasionally, like one in a hundred or two, you'd find a person approaching your table. Your palms start to sweat. Your throat starts to tighten. You pray that the person would be kind enough to just grab the book and run to the cashier. But alas! They actually speak to you. And your mind goes blank for a second before you understand what they actually said.
"What's your book about?"
OK, you can deal with that. You have the three-paragraph pitch memorized. You hope it sounds interesting...
"Oh, that's cool. Not something I'd read, though. Good luck."
*Gad* You've just been rejected! And you thought you didn't have to deal with rejections anymore, now that you're published. Reality sinks in fast. You've just become a frigging car salesman. You start to loathe yourself. You're scum.
The minutes become hours, and you start to hate being there. You're a side show, a strange-looking person sitting by a table in a corner of a book store somewhere in a crowded mall. And you notice that people would rather spend $4.55 on a latte and $20 on a pair of sunglasses than $14 on your book. Suddenly you wonder if what you do makes any sense. Maybe you should start selling gold-plated jewelry instead.
Then it happens. An angel shows up in the form of a housewife and her teenage son, or a man with glasses who looks like he actually reads. Then come these beautiful words:
"That's interesting. I'll get one and would you please sign it for me?"
Your heart beats faster and your face feels warmer. Then you find yourself shaking as you hold that pen and try to remember what that person just told you his or her name was... You want to make sure you spell their names correctly. "That's D-A-V-E, correct?" And you feel like an idiot asking someone to spell DAVE, and you feel like a bigger idiot because you forget all the witty things you're suppose to inscribe in the book; instead, you write "Enjoy!"
Now the angel thanks you and leaves with a smile and your 4-year-old baby. You feel good. You feel validated and appreciated. Finally, being a writer doesn't seem so pointless anymore. A total stranger is going to curl up with your book tonight... or tomorrow... some day...
Until you realize you just made $1.50 in royalties. The girl working at the Arby's across from you has made more than you just did in the last 50 minutes.
Glamour my ass.
Then you remember: It's not about the money or fame. It's about doing what you believe in. It's about telling stories and creating something that might entertain someone, or better yet, change someone's life. It can't be measured in dollars and cents. You're a published author and you have earned your right to sit there like an idiot at a table in a corner of a book store somewhere in a crowded mall where no one takes notice.
And I tell you: It's worth it.