So it happened. I went to Seattle… and it was closed.
At least to me. Actually the floaty bridge thingy was closed so I had to drive across the I-90, up and down the bloody 5! For what? So that 75 student writers of Kirkland could get three hours primo teaching – then buy 4 books. And of those just one a copy of the novel I am touring: ‘A Place Called Armageddon’.
So then I burned gas in the parking lot that was the 5, proceeded at a crawl to Elliot Bay, Seattle’s premier bookstore. Arrived to a surging crowd of… five people. 50 chairs, five people in them. I huddled them together, the lovely Candra bought me a beer, and I launched into 75 minutes of anecdote, travelog, impassioned readings. I laughed, I came close to tears, I worked the room. I am a trooper who has played midweek matinees on the end of English piers to three pensioners and a parrot. I gave my all. The five applauded, transfixed, marched from the room exhilarated, uplifted… and bought not a single book. Nary a one.
I flew to Seattle to sell, over three events, one copy of my new book. To an actor.
Look, I am not bitter. The system’s wrong. Unless you are a massive bestseller, no one comes – and even they struggle to draw a crowd. But… not one? Really?
The weekend had its compensations. A first class Negroni. The blush on the face of the Hotel Max’s receptionist when I asked where I might find hookahs and she went off to find a directory of… ladies of the night. My analogy to the writing class: ‘Don’t compare your first draft to your favorite author’s published book. It’s like comparing… sheep’s milk to Roquefort cheese’ (In the moment, I promise ye!) The bedside menu of holy books they would bring on request, from the Book of Mormon to the Intro to Scientology. Maybe I should have ordered something to help make sense of a world where an author shreds his soul for people to step over him in the gutter to go and spend half the price of his book on salted caramels.
Bitter? Moi? No. I just think that maybe I need to go back to writing books and forget about promoting them.