Thursday, March 27, 2008

Gettin' My Strokes

I've been humming Billy Squire's The Stroke in my head since coming up with this blog post. Remember that song? Yeah, it was huge. I figured I'd Google the lyrics and read through them before using it in the post. I mean, I always thought I knew what he was talking about when he said to 'stroke me, stroke me'. I figured it was a sexual thang. But is that what he's really referring to in the song? After reading the lyrics, I'm not sure. It could be a sex thing; it could be an ego thing. Or it could be both.

Today I'm headed downtown to a big convention center for the Public Librarian's Association convention. I'm signing at the Romance Writer's of America booth for an hour, then heading over to Harlequin's booth to sign. I'm back on Friday to do the same. I'll wave to Lois when I'm there; she'll be appearing at the Sisters In Crime booth. I love stuff like this. Big conventions filled with table after table of books. It's all about books. Books coming out this fall, books publishers are promoting big, books from small press, and books for kids. Authors will be signing books at their publisher's booths. Workshops will be given. And the place will be swimming with librarians. A good time will be had by all.

I go because, well, I was asked by my publisher. I gotta tell you, it's a cool feeling to get a call from your publisher's publicity department asking if you can represent them at a tradeshow. And who's going to refuse the chance to feel special for an hour? Heck, I get to dig through my closet for real clothes—anything non-sweat-like. I get to wear big-girl high heels. I even put on makeup. (Seriously, people, you just don't know how much I need events like this. If only to get out of my cage and talk to real people, and not alpha-male werewolves.) Events like this allow me to sit down before a stack of books and sign them and give them all away to people who really want to read them and learn more about me. So yep, I'm going for a few strokes. To my ego, that is.

Oh sure, I've been listening to Oprah and Eckhart. I know I should be trying to get rid of my ego if I want to become a better person. But you know, I say a little ego shining every once in a while isn't such a bad thing. And okay, it's not all about me. I go because I get to meet the people who have a genuine interest in books, in promoting them, and reading in general. It's like hanging with my peeps. A whole freakin' convention center full of them! How cool is that?

Another great thing about events like this? As a writer I love to learn all aspects of publishing. I'm not content to sit before the computer and plunk out story after story. If there's opportunity to get a peek behind the scenes, I'll grab it. What goes on at book tradeshows? I want to be there, to watch the marketing teams work their magic. To see how they relate to the librarians. How do they sell what I produce? What is the competition up to? Any next-big-thing bestsellers I should be on the lookout for?

So I'm going for some strokes today, and some information. And I'll be wearing my author costume—that is, nice clothes and a smile. I'll be learning while I'm playing the author, and that is what makes this job so interesting and fun.

So what about you as a reader? Have you experience beyond holding the book in your hand? Ever work at a bookstore? Tradeshow? Selling or marketing books? How do you get your strokes? (No, not Squier's kind of strokes, but—you know what I mean!) And okay, while it's hanging out there...just what kind of stroke is the guy singing about?
M

14 comments:

Betina Krahn said...

Interesting, Michele! Congrats on being invited behind the retail curtain to glimpse the show!

I've visited a couple of distributors and signed books in a warehouse and attended BEA. It's eye-opening, seeing all the venues and viewpoints of the other pros in the publishing game.

I remember being at a publishing reception in which one of the main distributors looked around at the several romance authors present (mostly in biz suits) and said "You all look so NORMAL." Interesting. Still not sure what he expected romance authors to look like. Still don't know if he was disappointed or not by our normalcy-- at the time I was too much of a newbie myself to ask. But for the first time, I began to wonder if "normal" was particularly good. lol.

Michele Hauf said...

Normal, hmm... Yeah, not to sure on that one. I try to do normal for the shows, with a slight touch of 'romance author'. Whatever that is. :-)

Christie Ridgway said...

Michele: Have fun! I've been to BEA (Book Expo America) a couple of times (and am attending the one in L.A. in May) and I looove looking at all the books. Always like the freebies, too.

Linda said...

As a reader, I really enjoyed Lori Foster's weekend in June. It's a great opportunity to chat one-on-one with authors and it's not as big as RWA and RT. Perhaps one day I'll have the nerve to go to one of the big conventions, but it's too easy to slip into my shy shell at those.

I get strokes from my friends - all I have to do is let them know I need them. Bless their hearts.

Michele Hauf said...

Linda, strokes from friends are awesome. I think it's cool you've gone to the smaller conventions. Much more chance to be calm and chat, yes? The big conventions are very stressful, but definitely worth trying. Heck, I'm super shy. Can only be 'one' for so long before I get a headache. So just prepare and plan for those bigger cons. And bring lots of aspirin!

Michele Hauf said...

Oy. I can only be 'on'... instead of one, as I wrote above. I suppose I can only be one as well. Sigh...

JoAnna said...

OOOOHHH! Free books, lovely. I work in a bookstore and there is nothing better than when publishers send us ARC copies of books for our enjoyment:)

I will never forget my astonishment when a NYTimes bestselling local author came into our store and after we had chatted for awhile she asked our advise about the best way to approach a bookstore and bookseller about signing her books and stock, whether it was good "bookstore etiquette" to interupt our work or not? :) we told her we love to talk to and meet authors and please feel free to come in and sign stock whenever she feels the urge. It is a built in perk as well as the free books when one of your favorite authors walks in the door on a long layover:)

flchen1 said...

Hi, Michele! Have fun! I used to work at a bookstore in college, and did really enjoy shelving all those lovely new books. My section was computer books, so it wasn't quite the same excitement for me as if I'd gotten fiction or romance or children's books, but it was still books! The hardest part was the time we had to spend at the "Book Information" desk--sometimes it was terrific being able to help a customer track down exactly the title they wanted, but sometimes you got requests so off the wall or vague that it was really frustrating. I guess any service work is like that--some really great interactions, and a few that can put a damper on your day.

Hope you have a fabulous time and get to meet fun readers!

lois greiman said...

So Michele and I stalked Mary Janice Davidson for a while at PLA. It's a huggggge event. Who knew there were so many librarians!

Michele Hauf said...

Joanna, we authors do feel it is an imposition (at least I do) to just parade into a bookstore and ask to sign stock. But we're always happy to do so.

Just got back, hung with Lois a while, and yeah, we stalked. MaryJanice brought her kids along and stuffed them under a shelf while she signed. (Not a dark, deep shelf; don't worry.)
Gave away a box of books at the RWA booth, then swung over to Harlequin and gave out two boxes of books. The H/S guys working at the booth were awesome, very nice. I can't wait to go back tomorrow and give out more books!

Oh, I only scored one ARC, HEART OF THE WOLF by Terry Spear from Sourcebooks. It's a werewolf romance. Then I got MJD's Undead and Uneasy. Another Rogue Angel book, the Room 59: Powers That Be book, which is another continuity from Gold Eagle like the Rogue Angel books. And I stalked the Tokyopop booth cause I want a story out in Manga! Please? Pretty please?

M

Michele Hauf said...

Can no one tell me what kind of 'stroke' the guy was signing about? I think I really need to know this...

amaris85 said...

I am a lovely librarian and i cant tell you how excited we get when a nice big box of shinny new books arrive. Unfortunatly as i work at a University we dont get alot in the Romance section but any new fiction gets us fussing. I envy all you who get to go to the PLA and RWA conventions. Im in Australia so i dont get to meet MaryJanice but we do get some good authors and any signed book is a good book!

Playground Monitor said...

One of the local hospitals is sponsoring a "Female and Fabulous" even on Saturday at the civic center. My RWA chapter will have a booth with some of our authors signing. We'll be promoting our Romance Readers' Luncheon too. Clinton Kelly from "What Not to Wear" will be there. Wouldn't you know I still can't wear regular shoes so I'll have on dress pants a jacket and either New Balance running shoes or Crocs. Maybe a letter from my doctor will make him overlook the fashion faux pas? ;-)

Marilyn

Michele Hauf said...

Oh, Marilyn, that's hilarious! Get a pic of you and Clinton, and make sure to point out your Crocs so we can see 'em!