by Jas Faulkner
Tabitha and Samantha, my UBS owning friends down in Mississippi, found out I knew an author who would be passing through on her way to a signing in Jackson before zig-zagging up to Memphis and then to Atlanta and then back west to Birmingham and…you get the idea. Fortunately, so did Tab and Sam, who helps her sister run a bed and breakfast. They offered my author friend a night of peace, quiet, and fresh vegetables from the kitchen garden, which she gratefully accepted.
Before anyone nods sagely and mutters, “Yep. Celebrities get the breaks.” you need to know two things:
First: Samantha sold a novel that was optioned for a movie that sat in development limbo for nearly a decade before it was finally made into a straight-to-cable feature. She knows what it’s like to be expected to act like a celebrity when the truth is that few people in the room actually know who you are or what your situation is.
Second: She guessed correctly that my friend was in the same situation. There were many people who were kind to Sam when she was on the road flacking her book and she wanted to pay it forward.
I’m writing about this because it’s the sort instance of kindness that makes me happy. It also gives me a chance to tell you about the conversation we have all been wanting to have so I could write about it here. We had that conversation tonight and they filled in the gaps on some of the things I knew I would wish I’d asked them after everyone turned in and my corner of the internet was no longer densely populated with middle aged women singing “The Bruces’ Philosophers’ Song” and “I Like The Moon” and swooning over Michael Palin. So without further ado, my friends and I are going to address some of the myths associated with getting published.
1.) I’m published! My book is selling enough to get noticed! I’m RICH!
Sam: Oh dear…
Nichole: I might get a small advance. Probably not.
Sam: Everyone gets paid before the writer.
Nichole: Everyone. And this book tour? It’s on my vacation time from my day job.
2.) If I give you my copy of The Stand, can you get Stephen King to autograph it?
(after two solid minutes of wheezing laughter)
Nichole: I see him at the meetings where all the writers get together. I’ll ask him then.
3.) Book tours sound like a lot of glamorous fun.
Sam: Merlot. I need more merlot before I answer that one.
Nichole: I want some, too. Book tours? The PR person at one of the radio stations I was at broke up with her husband while I was being interviewed. We had to try to keep the sounds of her weeping from going out over the air.
Sam: (from the next room) Tell her about the monkey!
Nichole: A Shrine circus monkey peed all over me on a local talk show in Shreveport. Have I mentioned that some publishers subtract the cost of your tour from your royalties?
4.) As a famous writer, you must get celebrity treatment. You get to meet people who are probably really impressed by-
Nichole: Monkey pee…monkey pee…monkey pee…
5.) Can I have a copy of your book? Wait! I know! I have a book club! Bring one for every person in the group. There are nine of us!
Nichole: That has actually happened. Or, I’m asked to read at a library and while I’m there they ask for a donation of copies of everything I’ve written. Sometimes they ask for two sets so they can auction off one and keep the other for their stacks. I know. Can you believe I don’t carry copies of everything I’ve written?
6.) So there are no glorious stories of wretched excess with the beautiful people?
Nichole: I kissed Henry Rollins on the lips.
Nichole: You can’t tell me you don’t have a story.
Sam: Oh well. One time I made Anthony Bourdain feed me.
Nichole: Monkey pee.
Aside from the monkey pee and the fact that I would never in a million years have the nerve to yank Henry Rollins in close for a big smooch or demand that Anthony Bourdain feed me, I’m still a little jealous.