Talk about exciting news! Some of you may remember an earlier visit to this blog from Teresa Rhyne. Teresa was talking about her upcoming book The Dog Lived and So Did I. Recently she was featured with that book at the Book Expo America in New York City. In this post she tells about that thrilling experience.
We arrived at the Javits Center in New York, where Book Expo America was held, the day before the event was to start. My marketing manager, Valerie, had suggested we meet at the exhibition hall that afternoon so I could see the publisher’s booth (they were setting up) and pick up my nametag, along with one for Chris, my significant other. Valerie met us in the lobby and then took us upstairs to Sourcebooks’ “booth.” I was greeted with this:
Yep. That’s my book. That’s my dog. That’s my life! (Well, you know, if you read the memoir.) I was so shocked (note surprised look on my face). I had no idea. Nor did I know there’d be a two page spread featuring my book in their fall catalog:
On the day of my signing (200 books were gone in 35 minutes!) the “people will know about my life” reality deepened as folks told me about their dogs or the people they’d known that had cancer. At the American Library Association conference the same thing happened. Several times I was asked to sign the book for someone currently in treatment or (so hard) in remembrance of someone who’d passed away from cancer. I met a lot of breast cancer survivors. And I heard a lot about people’s beloved dogs. I hope I responded well.
Those are the topics of my memoir—the love of dogs, canine cancer, breast cancer and finding love 9oh, um, human that time). I wrote a book about those things. And amid all the fantastic fanfare and celebration of books that is BEA and ALA, there was this revelation: I shared experiences with many people. They would now share their experiences with me. And isn’t finding this commonality what writing memoir, at least in part, is about? Isn’t that part of the experience? I don’t know why I wasn’t fully prepared for this—maybe one can’t be. And perhaps especially not when one is a debut author dealing with all of the excitement of going to BEA and all that leads up to that. But by ALA (2 weeks after BEA and here in California, so no jetlag time change to deal with) I think I was better prepared. I’m looking forward to the chance to talk to more folks, to hear more shared experiences. To know I was not alone in what I felt, or did, or said. And to help somebody else feel that way.
BEA and ALA also meant that Advance Reader’s Copies of my book are out. And I got a few for my personal use. So you memoir writers know what that means, right? Yep…the families (Chris’s and mine) have read the book. Mostly, I can let out a sigh of relief over the reactions (also, I can finally stop answering the “am I in the book?” question!). Not everyone was pleased, of course. Some (many, maybe most) people are more private than I am. But I’m comfortable that what I told was my story from my point of view. And it appears that everyone will be supportive, even if “in their own way.” At least no one has accused me of lying.
Other take-aways from being at these two huge book events? Memoir is alive and well…among celebrities. I kid, I kid. There were many memoirs by we nobodies on display at both events and hey, I totally understand why Teresa Guidice (from Real Housewives of New Jersey) had a longer line for her book than I did for mine (no, no I don’t ;-) But I do understand why Neil Young’s memoir was in bigger demand, and I will admit I wanted to stand in line for Molly Ringwald’s book myself.). I was just happy I had a line. Also, there are 1000s and 1000s of books coming out each season. Suddenly it was all clear to me why an author has to be ready, willing and able to promote the heck out of his/her own book. It was also clear to me why my publisher put my totally adorable dog on the cover of the book.
If you want more on my BEA or ALA experience (including the Rock Bottom Remainders final concert), please check out my blog at http://www.teresarhyne.com/blog
As always, I’m happy to answer questions.