April marks my tenth year as a published author. I didn’t really give it much thought until I crunched some numbers. A decade. A tenth of a century. One-fifth of my life. Three-thousand, six-hundred and fifty-three days. A couple of hundred book signings, interviews and blogs. A thousand-plus rewrites. And I wonder why I’m always tired!
To commemorate this milestone I gathered a few interesting things that have happened since I took this plunge.
Most unusual place I’ve gone for a book signing
I’ve had the great fortune to travel from my hometown of Dayton, Ohio to Chicago, New York, Key West and many points in between to meet the public. The most unusual venue was Alpena, Michigan. Never heard of it? Neither had I until I was invited to join some other writers for an authorfest. For the record, Alpena is on the upper tip of the Lower Peninsula on Lake Huron. The weekend of the event was the same as the annual Brown Trout Festival, which draws fishermen from all over North America and Canada. As for sales, can you say “none”? It wasn’t all bad, because we enjoyed a weekend getaway and met some nice people. A few years later I met a guy from that part of the state and after hearing of my experience he gave me some sage advice – “When it comes to selling books, you can’t compete with brown trout.”
Best promotional stunt I didn’t plan
I was interviewed by a reporter in Key Largo, Florida to promote one of my thrillers. We got along great and when he e-mailed me the proof a week later, the headline read “Former Spy Finds Paradise in Ohio Man’s Novels,” with my picture underneath. When the paper came out it had been shortened to “Former Spy Finds Paradise in Ohio.” I laminated the article to use at book festivals and when people see the words “Former Spy” above my picture, the looks I get are priceless.
Worst advice I ever received
My first book was a topical ripped-from-the-headlines espionage thriller. After a friend read it he suggested – with a straight face – that I’d sell more books if I wrote under the name “Tim Clancy.” I never asked his opinion again.
There have been two that stand out. In 2006 I was invited to be the keynote speaker at the Indianapolis Book Festival, which was really cool. The following year I pulled off something bigger - I organized a book signing tour of the Florida Keys. I had five appearances lined up over the course of a week at bookstores, a resort and a popular nightclub before we left Ohio, but it turned into eight appearances by the time we were wheels down. It was a helluva ride, especially when I arrived at the bookstores and found people waiting for me.
Most unusual encounter with a reader
At a Borders in Cincinnati I was approached by a girl who couldn’t have been more than twelve or thirteen, but she tried to act oh-so-much older and sophisticated. I didn’t try to make a sale to her because my books contain adult content. She looked at my display, made nice comments about the covers and blurbs then stated “I’m writing a book, too.” I asked what her book was about and she said “I don’t know yet, but when I write it, you look for my book and I’ll look for yours.” Out of the mouths of babes…
Most awkward interview question
During a live radio interview to plug one of my spy novels, the host became fixated on a plot point about government corruption. Apparently he was a conspiracy nut, because he went into this rant about government cover-ups then asked for my opinion about how the CIA was handling the war on terror. Talk about being put on the spot! After a stunned silence I mumbled something that wouldn’t land me on a Federal watch list then tried to get him back on point.
Nicest compliment I’ve ever received
The one that always makes me smile is when someone says “I can’t wait to read your next book.” It doesn’t get much better than that.
Let’s start decade number two!
CONTEST! GIVEAWAY! YOU MUST ENTER TO WIN!
To celebrate my tenth year I’m giving away an e-book of my erotic romantic comedy The Sweet Distraction. Here’s what you need to do:
- Visit my website, www.timsmithauthor.com and go the “Excerpts” page
- Read the excerpt from The Sweet Distraction and find the answer to this question: What grown-up games does Cookie like to play?
- Go to the “Contact Me” page, put “SNSD contest” in the subject line and send me your answer.
I’ll draw the winner on April 12. Good luck!