Sunday, August 25, 2013

Empty rooms and full rooms

When I saw this item about Brandy singing to a nearly-empty stadium, I thought that plenty of writers could probably relate. There are times when author events are--shall we say, lightly attended. Having an event where tumbleweeds practically roll down the aisle is a rite of passage.

I can think of one event a few years ago where the only people who heard me read were the author who had done a workshop right before mine (and who stayed out of compassion for my facing an empty room), and the people who worked at the bookstore. I remember a panel I did with two other authors where our audience consisted of ... one person.

Here's what writers do in those situations: We read, or talk, or answer questions, for whoever is there. At the reading for three people, I read as enthusiastically as I do for packed rooms. At the panel where one person attended, we all sat in a circle and told our guest, "You now have the opportunity to ask everything you want about writing for young adults--fire away!"

Naturally, packed rooms and busy signings are a lot of fun. A couple of weeks ago, I did an event where the chairs were full and there were standees at the back. I can tell you that "standees at the back" gives me a joy equivalent to the words "starred review." But I was prepared to give the same presentation no matter what: for one person, or five, or fifty. I've seen fellow authors do the same. (The only difference is that the formality level tends to drop, and we can do more intimate chit-chat with a very small audience.)

But we stick around and do the program either way. Because if you take the time to show up--if you come out to a bookstore or library when you could've stayed home in your pajamas--we're honored.

Thank you to everyone who's ever shown up!

(And if you'd like to show up in the future, my calendar of events is here.)


  1. I'll show up, when I can! I didn't realize Until It Hurts to Stop was releasing so soon! Congratulations!