Wednesday, April 26, 2006

some things never change

Today, I worked on booking a venue for Boston. I have three solid recommendations for Boston, and I've made contact with two of them. One totally blew me off, which was insulting and lame, and the other one will get back to me tomorrow.

Man, being blown off like I was today really galls me. I go out of my way to treat everyone I encounter with with dignity and respect, and I've foolishly come to expect the same from others. I guess bookstores are constantly contacted by authors about in-stores, but if someone is going to work in event planning, shouldn't that person be friendly and at least pretend to care? After I hung up with the first place today (the one that blew me off) I felt like I was just another stupid author at the bottom of a list that they resent having to deal with. Whether that's true or not, it's pretty stupid to make an author feel that way, especially when you're an indie store. Someone is supposed to call me back next week. I can hardly wait.

This reminds me of one of the absolute worst things that happened when I was trying so hard to promote Just A Geek shortly after it was released. There's a store here in Pasadena called Vroman's. It's my absolute favorite bookstore in the world, an indie shop that has slowly grown over the years without ever feeling corporate or impersonal. I really wanted to do an in-store there, so I contacted their event coordinator myself, told her that I was a long time customer, a new author, a former actor, and how much I wanted to come to the store for one of my first signings. I figured it would be a no-brainer: I'm local, I'm a customer, what more could you ask for, right? Well, she totally blew me off, and made me feel like I was stupid for even asking, like I wasn't worth her time. Oh, did I mention she did this to me face to face in the store? Yeah, that was awesome. Humiliated, I walked out, and they permanently lost a life-long customer. When I hung up the phone this morning, I felt the same sense of defeat and sadness; it's the polar opposite of the excitement and enthusiasm I've felt between my blog and eventful. Two of my best experiences doing in-stores were both at Borders: in San Francisco, and in Arcadia, so large and corporate doesn't always equal lame, by the way.

I'm really sensitive to this sort of thing because it touches raw nerves left over from acting: we actors are constantly told by our employers that we're worthless and easily-replaced, and even though we all know it isn't true, hearing it enough can wear on you, you know?

The second place I talked to was much friendlier, and the woman I spoke with was friendly and enthusiastic when she took all my information, which she said she would pass along to the head of in-store events, who will give me a call tomorrow. The contrast between the two stores couldn't have been more striking.

Anyway, I was so disheartened, I didn't make efforts to find a place in Montreal; I'll get on that tomorrow. If I recall correctly, one of the big Canadian chains, I think it was Chapters or Indigo (?) promoted Just A Geek very well, and sold an awful lot of them, so if I can't find an indie store (Booksense shows zero member stores in Montreal) I'll contact one of them, and hope that I get to encounter some of the legendary Canadian politeness.


Blogger MrAndrews said...

I know exactly what you mean about being dismissed like that, and I actually feel the evil cold-heartedness all the way from here. But hey, at least in your case you can take comfort in the fact that they're WRONG for treating you that way.

Indigo bought Chapters a few years ago, but they're still operating at somewhat different entities. I've had patchy luck getting them to consistently act like smaller chains... they can be very friendly to not-big-name writers, but sometimes you get the wrong person on the wrong day and they almost laugh in your face.

If you ever happen into Victoria, BC, I know the perfect store to contact. But that is sadly on the wrong coast for you at the moment.

6:08 PM  

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