Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Bloomsbury Books Reading

My first reading! So exciting.
I did as much promotion as I could leading up to the event. I contacted the local paper, which didn't pay off for the reading but might pay off in the long run (see upcoming post). I tweeted and Facebooked. I mass emailed everyone in my school district.
And in the end eight people came. A few got the flyer Bloomsbury sent out. A few saw the flyer in the window. One saw it advertised in the paper. And one awesome person from my school came out to support. Needless to say, the turn out was not as massive as I hoped. But, considering my secret fear was a room empty save for the wife and boy, eight isn't bad.
And they were a great audience. They participated and laughed in all the right places and a few bought books.
My view
 I've never been to a book reading. I've watched a few online, Chuck Klosterman and Sarah Vowell, but those were at universities. Big crowds of people familiar with the writer. I knew I would have few-to-no one who knew who I was. Some people would probably be nervous about that. My ego is such that I'm not. Public speaking, while a fear for many, is not a fear for me. I had the text and my personality, so I was confident.
I decided the format for the reading would be an introduction, followed by a funny chapter, a question/conversation stemming from that, a more serious chapter, and another question/conversation. I wasn't really sure how well the questions would go so I planned a third chapter just in case.
Turns out I needed all three, but I did get some good questions in between.
The reading took place on the second floor of the store. There was a lectern, a mic, a table, and rows of folding chairs. I set up some books on the table, stood at the lectern, and turned off the mic. The crowd was small and close and I've got the teacher voice. I don't need no stinking microphone. Some readers probably do, but not I. Down below the store was pretty dead, with one very friendly, helpful guy working the register.
 I introduced myself and let everyone know the plan for the hour, then read the first of my three selections- Peanut Butter and Jelly. I'd never thought about reading that chapter until I asked Facebook and many suggested it, calling it one of the funnier chapters. I knew it was funny, but I had never really thought about it. Turns out the masses were right. PB&J went over like gangbusters. It's a nice chapter for reading, dramatic and funny, with lots of chances for expression and voices and pausing for laughs. And laughs there were. The guy working the counter told me afterwards he'd never laughed that hard during a reading and he bought a copy of the book because of it. So good call, Facebook. Thanks!
We chatted after and I found out a couple of the people in the audience were educators, former educators, or people who worked with children in some way. Then I went on to the one I thought would kill, Bodily Functions. I maintain that's one of the funniest things I've ever written. It cracks me up. And it went well, but not as well and the first. I think maybe it's too gross to be read aloud unless the audience is very specific. Better to be in your head.
We chatted more then I went on to my last choice- Sympathy for the Weird Kid. I think this will be in any reading I get a chance to do. It contains one of the big themes of the book, empathy, it's personal, and most everyone can relate. It's one of the most about me chapters, but it can be about pretty much anyone attracted to what I have to say. It's a chapter that gets silent nodding and soft noises from a good audience, which I had.
The hour struck as I was finishing the final chapter, but no one left so we hung out for another fifteen minutes, talking and sharing teaching stories. An 80 year old woman told a story about subbing in a music class that ended with, "Why don't you shove it in your ass?" Yeah, at my reading an 80 year old woman said, "shove it in your ass." That makes it a success right there, I think. One guy bought a book for his teacher son in inner-city Chicago. A kindly older couple bought one for themselves. And the guy who worked the counter. The 80 year old had published two of her own books, which she promised to (and did) send to me.
The tiny human had to get involved because he's adorable and loves to be the center of attention. Hmmm, wonder where that came from?

 I had a ton of fun. I love being in front of an audience, it feels natural and comfortable and if I could make a living giving speeches I'd probably do it. I guess I kind of do, though a good teacher doesn't talk as much as he listens. I'm hustling hard to find more places to do readings and I hope more come through. I want to thank Bloomsbury for having me. They had only been taking one copy of the book at a time but both copies sold quickly so Monday they took two instead. Guess it's popular. I'm sure the fantastic cover helps.
Thanks for your support. Please, again, leave a review on amazon, Barnes and Noble, and goodreads if you've read and enjoyed He's the Weird Teacher. And tell your friends. And remember Christmas is coming and who doesn't love a book in their stocking?

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