OK, I have a confession to make. I went to a panel discussion called “Writers on Writing” at a major bookstore chain – the theme was Mark Twain. His eagerly awaited autobiography is about to come out and it sounds like a winner. Here’s my confession: I showed up, I learned, I enjoyed. But I didn’t support any of the writers by buying a book. That’s ungenerous – and foolish. I went to the panel to glean helpful tidbits about Twain for this blog and slotted myself in the role of a scribe, when I should have seen myself as a member of a tribe. After all, as a writer myself, I’m an insider — not an outsider.
If I’d been thinking of myself tribally, here’s how I would have acted: I would have bought a book, gotten it signed, chatted and connected with the panelists, and maybe even come away with a few morsels of precious personal advice. Instead, I missed the moment – and a chance to support some fellow writers.
Since this event came and went, I’ve thought of many a clever, engaging thing I might have said, which is my tough luck. I’ve vowed never to do this again. If I go to another program like this one, I’m buying and bonding! So here are my five book-event commandments:
I will spruce myself up, even if it’s torrid, and treat the event like an event.
I will research the authors presenting before I go, not after, for gosh sakes.
I will come prepared with some thought-provoking questions to ask.
I will buy a book and then patiently wait in line to have it autographed.
I will connect with the author(s) and share my excitement as a writer.
My act of contrition: I’m going to my local bookstore and ordering one of the books that looked really interesting. No one-day discount for me!