Saturday, May 16, 2009

Why I'll Stick to Category

I was reading a blog the other day about an author who is touring the US doing appearances on radio and in book stores to publicize her first published novel. Obviously, being a newbie, she’s not well-known, just working to get there, and it caused me to stop for a moment and envision myself having to do what she’s doing.

When it comes to writing category romance, most authors tend to agree that speaking engagements, book signings, and other such public promotions are far more optional than for those writers breaking into single title. We’re lucky in that the Harlequin line itself sells the bulk of our books. We can choose to do as much or as little publicity as we’d like, which for me means I can pretty much write my little books and sit back and collect royalties. End of subject. I don’t have to fly around the country being bold and entertaining making witty small talk with people who may or may not have ever read a romance novel in their lives.

That’s a good thing, because despite being very outgoing, I’m not a salesperson. I doubt I could sell Pamela Anderson a boob job. Convincing people to buy my romance novel through the power of my friendly nature and bright smile? I don’t think so. Therefore, the idea of doing an appearance at a book store scares the hell out of me.

Naturally, the first thing I think of is nobody showing up--which happens. Worse is the idea of two people showing up. In that case, I’d have to actually follow through with whatever event they’d a public place like a book store...where people are mulling around doing their shopping and wondering who that weirdo is over there reading sex scenes to all those empty chairs.

Maybe I was tarnished by the one book signing I did at Borders. I sold exactly two books. Thankfully, I was there with another author who was a pro and talked to the customers for me. Borders had set us up by the front door so we were left with the option of either professionally greeting people as they entered or sit there looking like a boob. My author friend was the former, which helped distract everyone from noticing that I was most indeed the latter.

Then there’s the whole flying thing. Mind you, I’m not afraid of flying. My father has an airplane and I spent a lot of my teenage years flying around in those little Patsy Cline airplanes. But even the puddle jumpers I rode in back when my butt was small had first-class leg room compared to what the airlines are trying to pass as a “seat” today. I find the whole experience trying and uncomfortable, therefore, I only fly when there’s a place I really want to be and driving’s not an option. Like if an obscenely rich relative died and I was told to be at the reading of the will...tomorrow. But to spend half my summer traveling to places like Potwunka, Iowa so I can read a chapter of my book to three people who were there only because they’d heard there might be cake?

I’m afraid my sense of adventure just doesn’t stretch that far. Which means, for me, I’m pleased with the career I have writing category romance and letting Harlequin handle most of the publicity for me.

What about you? Are you the type of person who is comfortable putting yourself out there to strangers? And what about traveling? Would you see it as an adventure or an inconvenience to have to travel for work?

Lori Borrill just completed her seventh novel for Harlequin Blaze. Her fifth, THE PERSONAL TOUCH, will be on sale August, 2009. For more information on Lori and her books, visit


EllenToo said...

I am a person who does not like putting themselves out to people in spite of the fact that I managed to spend 35 years teaching high school kids. I also will not fly anywhere unless loaded with motion sickness pills and tranqulizers. Thanks goodness I don't have to.

Lori Borrill said...

Ellen, I think that's so funny because, like you, I've done a lot of teaching and public speaking. I was on the speech team in high school, ran a lot of classes in my corporate day job. Yet the idea of doing book signings and public promotion makes me ill. I think it's the "salesman" aspect of it. Teaching is a little different than trying to get people to buy something.

Good to see you here! I haven't had time to do much more than post my Challenge book reviews over on eHarlequin.

Donna Alward said...

Book signings always make me slightly nauseous beforehand and yet I always end up enjoying myself in the end. But I try always to do a group or at least a double. Single signings are really hard.

I never take for granted that people are actually MY fans - they might be the other author's or simply curious. One of the easiest things I've found is that if you spark up a convo about books, and what else they like to read, you find some common ground.

I love to travel. Actually I don't enjoy the getting there as flying can be a bit trying, but I love seeing new places.

Estella said...

I don't mind flying, but I would rather just stay home. I am not an outgoing person.

EllenToo said...

Lori - teaching is definately different than trying to get people to buy something and I'm sure I wouldn't be able to do it. There were times when I had to get up in front of groups of teachers and "sell" new programs and ideas for teaching kids and that was nerve racking.
I'm trying to keep up with posting the Challenge book reviews also and sometimes I get a little behind and have to post more than one at a time.