Most writers I know prefer writing to promoting their work.
Before I jumped both feet in the business of publishing Trapped in Paris, my first novel for young readers, I laughed at the thought of promoting it.
I thought of promotion as the easy part of the job. I would do it in a jiff – after all I had grown a thick skin between writing the story, revising it, copyediting it, and working through the whole process of publishing.
Really, talking about my story to young readers would be absolutely easy.
I had a first signing in a lovely children’s bookstore in November and I was nervous when I met my first buyer: a twelve-year-old girl.
At the second our eyes met I realized how important the moment was. This girl had decided to purchase my book rather than another book. Responsible is how I felt.
I was so concerned that I paused and worked on two different writing projects instead of focusing on promoting Trapped in Paris.
In the end, you know how what you try to avoid always catches up with you? Well, it did, and I am now facing three events, all linked to the publication of Trapped in Paris.
Two I didn’t choose:
A local school invited me on Dr. Seuss’s Day, also Read Across America celebrated on March 2. A middle school student called me one morning.
“We would like to know if you are free that day,” she said. “Because we would very much like to have a local author to help the school celebrates.”
“Of course,” I said in a cheerful voice.
“It would be for the entire student body,” she said.
“Of course,” I said.
It was over the phone, so the girl had no idea that my heart was now pulsing so hard that I had to sit down.
All the time as I kept saying that yes, it would be wonderful and that yes I could talk about writing and that yes I was thrilled, I was mentally elaborating complicated plans to entertain an entire study body. How do you keep kids from kindergarten to eight grades alert, interested and engaged?
When I hung up, I was caught in an uncomfortable mix of excitement and anxiety.
But that wasn’t the end.
The same day one of the school’s language art teacher called me. She thought it would be absolutely great if I came into her class and spoke about writing in a second language.
That, I thought with a sigh, is something I know very well. I can definitely talk to a kid whose first language isn’t English.
“And of course,” the teacher added, “you will read a few pages of your book to the seventh and eight graders. A small assembly, really.”
“Of course,” I said in the same cheerful voice I used with the student.
I can’t blame anyone for the third event. I asked for it when I offered a copy of my book to a children’s librarian. She and I have known each other for a while. When my children were little, the children’s library was their second home. This librarian is young and engaging. She loves books and people who write books.
She was so supportive of my work that she immediately suggested a library event. How cool is that?
I’m very grateful and very fortunate that a student, a teacher and a librarian invited me to introduce my book and talk of the writing process.
Yet I dream of hiding in my small den, which overlooks a yard where daffodils are poking their shy noses, where quails and squirrels search for seeds, and where the Californian light is a perfect excuse for typing yet another story.
But the voices of the teacher, of the librarian, and moreover of the student, echo in my head.
“Please, would you be available to come over and talk with us about writing?”