From the Other Side of the Signing Table
“I don’t know what to say to you,” the girl said. “Um, thanks, I guess.”
“Thanks is good,” I replied.
Silence stretched, punctuated only by the scuffle of a Sharpie on a page.
We were in the same boat, the girl and I — both at a book festival, both at the end of a long day full of people, both in a signing line that had been going on for an hour already. There was only one big difference between us: she was on one side of the table, and I was on the other. Sometimes that difference seems to matter more than others.
Before I was published, I read a lot of accounts of what it was like to have your work out there, but I never read anything about what it was like to have yourself out there. I suppose I never really thought about it, to tell you the truth. I thought you wrote a book and hopefully people liked it and if I thought about book tours at all, I figured they involved standing on a stage for a bit before disappearing into a rental car. The truth, however, is that now — ten years and fifteen novels in to my career — most of my hours in front of people are spent in a signing line. Forty minutes on a stage or behind a table for a panel, and then two or three hours meeting a few hundred strangers. I had no idea what it would be like.
This is what it’s like.