Monday, April 12, 2010

Should've Demanded No Green M&Ms

My CP Tawna Fenske recently blogged about how she has been asked to speak to writers' groups and readers' groups, and how she's not sure how she'll do. (She'll do fine!) It brought to mind my very first forays into life as a Published Author.

Like my first book-signing "tour."

In Rural, Backwoods, we have, alas, no independent booksellers. We DO have Wal-Mart, which is very good to sell Harlequins. So after I'd swooned over my first actual, real, live copy of my book, I thought, "I should ask the Wal-Mart manager if it's okay if I sign my books."

So off I went to the phone, and my call was first routed to the manager, and then to the regional manager. Turns out, the regional manager's wife was a HUGE fan of romance.

"You've gotta sign in ALL my stores," he insisted. "You've gotta."

So, bemused, I agreed to do so. He said he would get Anderson's (the book supplier for Wal-Mart) to get in touch with me.

They called me a few days later, while I was at my day job. Picture my whiplash when I went from helping one angry and very unsatisfied customer (I was sort of an ombudsman and problem-solver) to the Anderson lady.

"Hi, we need to know what sort of things you'll be requiring for your book-signing," she said.

"Uh ... a table? And my books?" Honestly, I couldn't think of anything else.

There was a long pause. "Of course, we'll have that. But your SPECIAL needs. Do you, er, require a security detail?"

If I'd been drinking coffee, my keyboard would have been a goner.

"No, no. No security detail."

"Okay, then, good, uh, what sort of instrument do you want to autograph your books with?"

"Instrument? I use a Sharpie. But I was planning on bringing one with me."

"Oh, what color?" she asked eagerly. "The fat ones or the skinny ones?"

"Er ... blue. The fat one."

I heard her pen scratching out notes on the other end of the phone line and (maybe I imagined this) her sigh of relief. "Okay, then! I'll have blue Sharpies waiting for you. And refreshments? What can we provide for you?"

"Uh ... water?"

"Water? Sparkling or just plain ... bottled ... water?"

"Water. The plain kind."

By now, I was wondering if maybe I was falling short of this lady's expectations. Maybe what she really wanted was me to ask for a bowl of M&Ms minus the brown or green ones. I was also wondering what other authors asked for and if perhaps I was missing an opportunity or three.

But I couldn't do that. I'm not a high-falutin' kind of gal. I was bowled over by the idea that they would give me a Sharpie! Wow!

We talked a bit longer, and she ended the conversation by saying, "And, er, you're sure that all you want is ... water? And you're sure you don't need a security detail?"

"Yes to water, no to the security detail. But ... thanks!"


Piedmont Writer said...

I too would have been thrilled with water and a blue Sharpie (thin)! Cute story. I'm so glad you're so down to earth with the rest of us. Gives me something to aim for when I get published.

Toby Speed said...

I love that story, Cynthia! Makes an author feel good to be treated so considerately. And how did the signing(s) go?

p.s. What's a CP?

Tawna Fenske said...


I snorted water on the keyboard over the security detail! Classic. Thanks for sharing!


Cynthia Reese said...

Anne, thanks! Soon YOU will have water and a blue (thin) Sharpie!

Toby, you're right! I should be really grateful, because I've heard my share of horror stories about authors who didn't (a) have a table or (b) have their books or (c) have either one.

And a CP is my short-hand for Critique Partner -- a writer friend who is willing to do line edits and put up with my whining. :-)

Tawna, you will most DEFINITELY need a security detail, especially if you go with the flasher-method! ;-)

Stephanie Thornton said...

Wow! That's a great story! I'd be happy with water and a blue Sharpie too!

Buffi Neal said...

You go girl, I mean published author!! I love your story and I love that you stayed true to who you are. BUT… I can’t help but wonder what other authors demand! The best of luck to you!
My Wonderfully Dysfunctional Blog

Jen said...

Love the story Cynthia!!! I was almost like Tawna and spit water all over my keyboard!

Jamie D. said...

They wanted to provide the pen? Wow. It never occurred to me that a store might provide anything other than books and a table (a chair, maybe). Hilarious! :-)

Maybe I should start thinking now about something I could request. Then again, what else do you really need? LOL