Until this year, I’d never attended a book convention. No reason to. As an avid reader, I got my fix at bookstores and Amazon. So when my publisher invited me to May’s BookExpo America in New York, I booked a flight so quickly that it may have occurred the day before I even knew there was a BookExpo America.
The best moment was checking in and being handed an author badge. That was before I went onto the massive floor filled with people, many wearing the same kind of badge I was. I realized everyone in America has written a book. How is anyone ever going to find my quaint middle-grade tome about a zombie just trying to fit in?
I spent the first day attending panels populated by amazingly talented authors who were asking the same question — how is anyone going to find my (fantasy, romance, young adult, paranormal, Hemingwayesque) novel when everyone in (America, the Western Hemisphere, the world) has written a book? When you are rubbing elbows and bindings with so many writers in one confined space, you feel there are not enough readers to go around.
At the end of the first day, my thoughts drifted to sales. My dad said he’d buy a copy of “Dead Jed.” And some of my colleagues. A neighbor mentioned she might want one. A couple of friends said to remind them when the book was published, so that was promising.
But since returning and getting back to real life, I’ve reminded myself of why I wrote Dead Jed. Certainly not for the money. Fame? Not unless I changed my last name to Kardashian.
A few days ago I looked up an email I’d sent to a friend back in 2010, when I was looking for an agent. This is what I wrote about the sense of accomplishment I felt at finishing “Dead Jed:” “I envision a day when I am visiting a classroom, talking about writing, and as the bell rings I hold up a copy of ‘Dead Jed’ and say, ‘Check this out if you have the time.’ The kids all leave, many of them bored, but one stops and asks to see the book. He flips through it. He stops, reads a paragraph, laughs. And says, ‘Cool. I hope to be a writer someday.’ He gives me back the book and heads toward the door. Just before he leaves, I say, ‘Hey kid.’ He turns. I toss him the book and say, ‘Send me yours when it’s published.’ A total Mean Joe Greene moment.” Yes, my friend is old enough to know that famous Coke commercial.
The real payoff is connecting with readers. It’s fun to think of someone seven or eight years from now, moving out of the house, taking their dog-eared “Dead Jed” book with them because they loved it growing up.
I hope to hear from as many potential readers as possible. I’d be happy to come to school, a library, a bookstore. If it’s too far to drive, I’ll get on Skype for a video chat. Doesn’t matter if it’s one reader or 100. Leave a comment. Send an email. Hit me on Twitter. Buy the book. Don’t buy the book. Either way, I am always happy to talk about writing. And if Dead Jed gets one boy or girl interesting in reading, or in writing, it was worth the work so many people put into it.