Tag Archives: The Writing Life

More Reality On The Writing Life…

Thirty years ago, I sold my first novel, Murphy’s Fault. It sold in late 1988, but it didn’t come out until 1990. I remember being so thrilled when Mill’s Bookstore (a long-gone local independent) agreed to give me a book signing.

I sent out something like a hundred invitations (by snailmail, no less) and dozens of phone calls. Invited every friend, every family member… I was one of the founding members of the Tennessee Screenwriting Association, so everybody in that group got an invite.

The signing was on a Sunday afternoon. I was terrified. What if nobody showed up?

When I got there, I was thrilled. There was already a crowd forming. The staffers at Mills (one of whom, Michael Sims, would go on to become one of my closest pals and a writer whose success far eclipsed mine) were already bringing out more folding chairs. My parents, my brother and sister-in-law, my grandmother all came…

It was an amazing day. Mills had optimistically way over-ordered, but every one of the 130+ copies they had on hand were snapped up. By the time the signing was over, Michael and Ron Watson were reaching into the front windows to pull out display copies for people.

I was drained, exhausted, spent, but it was one of the best days of my life…

And I thought “Man, I got this nailed… I am on my way now.”

Then reality hit. I’ve never had a signing like that again, to this day. Nowhere near it…

In the 90s, when I was really working this business, I went  on a bunch of book tours, almost all self-financed. Most of those signings were like the one that Sharyn McCrumb and I did at a Little Professor Bookstore in Birmingham, where we sat next to each other at the front of the store during a weekday lunch hour.

Most of the people who came in thought we worked there. I remember someone asking me what the special of the day was in the cafe…

So when I read Tom McAllister’s article today on a website I’ve just discovered called TheMillions.com , it really put me in mind of those early days. And how much I thought the world would beat a path to my door because I’d written a freakin’ book…

Every writer needs to read this. Take a look:

https://bit.ly/2LgQ8ia