Last night I went to an informal wing-ding that some friends host every year during the Religious Book Trade Exhibit trade show here in the Chicago area. It's attended by various publishing professionals, with book publishers and magazine editors, authors and agents, publicists and reviewers, from near and far. It's always a good time to schmooze and mingle, to connect and catch up with friends, hear industry tidbits, plug and promote books, maybe pitch a book idea to someone.
I chatted with one of our authors, Father Albert Haase, who will be signing his new book Coming Home to Your True Self: Leaving the Emptiness of False Attractions at RBTE today. He gave us an enthusiastic endorsement for Mary Poplin's forthcoming Finding Calcutta about what she learned from her time with Mother Teresa. Haase had served as a spiritual director for Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity for some years, and was delighted with Poplin's book. Fr. Albert asked me what to expect at his booksigning and what to do.
"It's pretty simple," I said. "People will line up, and you greet them and sign your book and give it to them."
"How much do I engage them?" he asked. "How long do I talk to them?"
"Depends on the line. If there are just a few people, you can take longer to talk with them and tell them about your book. But if there are a lot of people waiting in line, then you should probably move them along a little faster."
"Ah, just like confession!"
Ellen and I brought our kids, as we do every year, and it was fun to see Elijah hugging and dancing with editors and publishers. I'm sure every industry has its confabs and gatherings, but there's something particularly invigorating about being in a crowded living room with a bunch of book geeks, all talking about a great new book or a newly discovered author that knocks their socks off. I love being part of this world.
This isn't about the wing-ding, but this is an excuse to link to a few publishing-related items. If you have an idea for a book, first go to The Rejecter's blog to see why editors and agents reject proposals. And just for the heck of it, here's an amusing video that one of my editor friends forwarded me recently. It's from Dennis Cass, the author of Head Case, about marketing realities surrounding the release of the paperback edition of his book.