I wrote a book ten years ago, Rules of the Lake, which is set in Florida. It got a nice review from the New York Times, and I thought, oh, hot diggety, here we go. Then somebody must have bought three books in an hour on Amazon or something, because suddenly, I was 444th on their sales list and climbing. I was sure I was about to become a "known writer."
It's harder than that. A lot harder. But I didn't know it at the time, so I called up bookstores in all the major retail markets in Florida. I convinced them to let me speak and sign in their stores. Many said yes. I was very excited. I worked hard on a presentation, and bought a couple travel-friendly outfits. I even got a haircut and flossed. I was picture-worthy.
You already know what happened, don't you? Nothing. In Tampa, my college roommate showed up (thanks Beth!), as did and two strangers who were very nice and even bought a book. Then I went to another town (it's probably significant that I can't remember the name) and nobody showed up. The nice lady at Barnes & Noble made an announcement over their system: "Please come over to our signing area and welcome our visiting author, Eileen Zig..felter." When they mispronounce your name, expect bad things. It is written.
I canceled the rest of the visits.
Here's what I'm doing differently this time. I've identified bookstores that specialize in mysteries (being as how I wrote one, and all), then looked for cities where I had a friend I could enlist as a Minute (Wo)Man. A Minute (Wo)Man is someone who is willing to contact all their peeps and say, "My friend is signing at Mysterious Mysteries and if you don't come and buy a book, you and I are done."
Okay, maybe they won't say that. But, without someone on the other end to help me, I've used up all my air miles and food stamps on a book tour that will be, ultimately, a waste of time and resources. No one is going to show up for Irene Ziegler, but they might show up for my friends, all of whom believe in me and want to see me do well.
So this blog is about my wonderful friends, whom I can only repay with a hug, a shout out, and a promise to do likewise for them when called upon. I'd like to thank the following Minute (Wo)Men in advance, for opening their homes, their address books, and their wet bars:
In Ann Arbor, MI: John Capecci, Dennis Beagen, Laurie Walker and the Eastern Michigan University Alumni Association. Thanks also to Aunt Agatha's Mystery Bookstore.
In Milwaukee: Tracy Neeman Askotsky and Boswell Book Company.
In Milaca, MI: Tami and Barry Spry-Scanlon. Thanks for adding a literary component to this year's annual Beet Fest.
In Richmond, VA: Kelly Justice of Fountain Bookstore, Margaret Oleska, Rebbecca Joines Schinsky, Style Magazine, The Times-Dispatch, my husband, Graham and all youse guys!
In Fredricksburg, VA: Howard and Karen Owen.
In Seattle, WA: Ray Ross, Gary Locket and The Seattle Mystery Bookstore.
In DeLand, FL: Janet at The Muse Bookstore, Mom and Dad, Deborah Zeoli Bixler and the DeLand High School Class of '73.
In South Pasadena: Ralph Tropf, Dawn Kowalski and BOOK'em Mysteries.
Thank you, thank you, thank you. Can't wait to see you guys and laugh until bourbon shoots from our noses at a high velocity. Mmmwah!