Saturday, September 15, 2012

TNBBC's First Night Out...

.. at Brooklyn's Book Thug Nation was a bust.

I had started promoting the event a couple months back. I threw together a flyer, designed a cute tri-fold to hand out at the event, special ordered Tshirts for David Maine and me to wear during the reading, and sent out personal invites, mass event invites, and event reminders through Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.

I'm not sure what else I could have done to hype it up. And it's sad-making, because David Maine is an awesome author and I feel like Brooklyn really missed out on something good last night.


Yesterday was my first time visiting Book Thug Nation, our host space. It's this teeny little bookstore on N 3rd street in Willamsburg, Brooklyn. Barely larger than my bedroom, it sits beside an antique shop and directly across the street is this great little German bar that David and I slipped into, grabbing a celebratory beer before the reading began.

While sitting in the bar, my cell phone started getting hit with cancellations from the few people I had personally invited and had been really excited to see. Oh No, I thought. This does not bode well. And while it's always wise to be prepared for things like this, I don't think you can ever prepare yourself ENOUGH...

We head back over to Book Thug Nation, help the store associate set up the chairs, and while David grabs a seat in preparation, I scout the sidewalks to see who's coming and talk up the reading to a few of the browsers. One local, Anna, took an interest in hearing more about the book and the three of us chatted for a bit about music and books and mass-consumer-madness. 

Eventually, the store associate asked if anyone else was coming. She was itching to open the store back up to the public before she had to close for the evening. We had an audience of one, and David had no one to read to. Dejected and humiliated, I thanked Anna for hanging out, apologized profusely to David as I helped fold up the empty chairs, and asked for directions to our separate subway lines. 

After David and I said goodbye, I walked down the length of Berry St toward the L running everything through my head. I considered chucking in the towel. I replayed the conversation David and I had on our way to the bookstore earlier that evening - where we discussed the power (or lack thereof) of social media, blogging vs professional newspaper reviews - and how certain I had been that voices matter, no matter how small, so long as there was an audience for them. I thought about how he had tried to prepare me for tonight's event by making sure I had set "low expectations", and I thought that no one could ever their expectations low enough to prepare for a turnout of ZERO people. I felt like a failure. I felt like everything I had ever done up to this point was for shit. For nothing. For no one. Who was I kidding, I had no audience! No one was listening to a fucking thing I was saying! I was talking to empty space. But worst of all, I felt like I had let  David down. And that bothered me the most. 

So, it's the morning after, and while I continue to struggle with feelings of frustration and humiliation and gag on the ginormous heap of humble pie the universe served to me last night, I know that I am going to continue to fight the good fight for exceptional literature. I won't back down and play dead, I won't quiet my voice, I won't give up on spreading the word about the authors I enjoy and the amazing stories they have to tell... because I can't.  

Now excuse me while I burrow back under the covers and continue my pity-party-for-one. I'm not quite done feeling sorry for myself.


  1. Don't know what to say, except "That sucks." In theatre I've certainly had some nights with meagre audiences, and that's dispiriting enough, but never zero -- yikes. Wish I knew what the answer was -- it sounds as if you did everything you could to get people out. I don't have any feel-good bromides but let me just reiterate: that sucks!

  2. I'm so sorry that the event didn't work out. I would have loved to have been there if I lived nearby!

  3. I'm so so sorry. Believe me, if I were in Brooklyn, I'd be on it. That feeling is horrible, the nerves, the frustration, the humiliation. It sucks. Just know it wasn't *you* - you're doing something great.

  4. Oh, Lori, I'm so sorry. :(

    Do you know what kind of irritates me the most about this? I live in an area that has NO author, EVER. I am so jealous of the people who live in places like NYC who get ALL THE EVENTS. So when I hear about something like this, it makes me feel a little stabby. I would have LOVED to have been able to attend this last night while other people were turning it down. Sigh.

    Keep fighting the good fight, Lori. Chin up.

  5. Thank you guys! It's great to have your support. I don't doubt for a minute that you'd all be there in a heartbeat if you could :)

  6. Sorry I'm so late with this - I'm so sorry to hear about this, Lori. Add me to the list of people who'd have been there if I was nearby. I'm so impressed you did it, though. And you did do everything right. Next time will be better. I just know it.

  7. Hey Lori, don't take it so hard! As I told you last night, this was not the first time I've had an audience of zero... I've also had audiences of 40 or 50 people. You just never know.

    You are far from being a failure. Being a failure would mean giving up, quitting, etc. Given that you and I have another event scheduled for Sunday night, it's pretty evident that you're far from that point!

    And thanks, folks, for the kind comments on here. I appreciate 'em, and I know Lori does too. She's a special person, and it's gratifying to see that acknowledged so publicly.

  8. David, you are such a sweetheart! This is exactly why I do what I do (or attempt to! Ha!) Looking forward to hanging out with you again tonight!!

    And thanks again, everyone, for your support. You are all the bestest of the best!

  9. Perhaps your readers agreed that this event seems to defy your blog's theme. David Maine is a good writer, but he's been published three times by St. Martin's Press. That's about as indy as Disney. St. Martin's is own by a giant European media conglom with revenues in the billions. With so many self-published authors and writers for independent presses who have not yet found the support of a major publisher, why should your blog's first event support an author who's already had broad exposure?

  10. I agree with Heather, I live in an area with very few author events. For a university town with numerous bookstores it is pretty shameful. The biggest bookstore in the area has a reputation of indifference towards authors, and one of complacency toward the store itself. It's sad to see, especially after spending two years managing a bookstore in this area. I'm not always the most social person, but when it comes to readings I do my best to show up if humanly possible. But having spent my life performing in some fashion or other (acting, singing in a band, and now as a writer) David is right, the size of an audience is completely unpredictable and rarely a factor that can actually be blamed on anyone. The fact that you stand up for the writers you believe in is a fantastic thing, a rare thing, and an admirable thing. There will be more events, and more promotions, and more books, always more books. Chin up.

  11. Anthony, David's newest book is published under Red Hen Press. That is about as small press as you can get. And it's a lovely press, and David is a lovely writer and author and I was proud to host an event that helped to publicize him and his amazing novel! I've been a long time fan of David and know his publishing history well. He has in fact been published by St Martin's four times, but has not achieved the broad exposure you seem to believe he has. Oh how I wish it were so! Also, TNBBC is not exclusive to indie's. Are you familiar with what I do? I am a promoter of good literature, which comes in all forms - Big 6, small indies, and self published. I love them all and celebrate them all. It just so happens that most of what I come to love is small press :)

    Ryan, you are the bomb, my friend. What a way for a first event to go, though. Chin is up high, I swear :)