What’s in a Name?

I bought a few pity books at the Literacy Signing yesterday, mostly from writers I’d never heard of and a few in genres I never read.

I’m not entirely sure why.

I’ve been in a heady sort of limbo the last few days. With my PAN status I’ve been elevated to one of the coveted slots, being identified as a published author…but without an actual book to pimp.

And it’s a weird thing to be around so many people, where they look at your face and then half a second later their eyes drop to your badge – like an instantaneous judgement – are you PAN? PRO? neither? an industry professional? Are you *someone*? And you can see the dismissal as people evaluate and move on.

On the other hand, I’ve had perfectly lovely conversations with strangers in the hallway or at the luncheons, where once you get past the label on the badge, you actually find out a little about the person, and hey! They are nice! And you both write the same thing! Or they’re really funny! (Or they’re nutbags. ’cause that happens too, but at least it’s interesting.)

Still, it’s a bit odd to get all the congratulatory good wishes when people see my “First Sale” ribbon, but I don’t have do anything else – I didn’t have to sit at one of those long, black draped tabled (rows upon rows of them), next to all the rest of authors, while the general public roamed about seeking out their favorites.

And therein lies the problem. Yes, there are certainly the big-wigs here – Nora Roberts, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Jeaniene Frost, to name a few – all of them had lines that seemed to stretch for miles. But there were many, many more authors that had no one. It’s sort of an ugly truth about getting published, I think – for all that it seems as though we have the golden ticket, the thing of it is that we’re almost in the same boat as before…but just in a more public eye. And you have to plaster a smile on your face until it aches, trying to lure potential readers to your spot in the off chance they’ll buy a book or become a fan, even if you’re sitting next to someone like Angela Knight or Linnea Sinclair. (Which I imagine is probably pretty damn depressing in some respects, if you’re just starting out.)

The idea of doing a signing scares the crap out of me. By the time I get to my next conference, my book will only be out for maybe 3 months – hardly enough time to have anything remotely like a public following. Which is fine – I’ll go in and try to have fun and maybe I’ll get lucky.

It’s part of the game, after all.

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