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A lot of prospective authors are held back by fears like “what if no one likes my work”. So what if you hold an author event, and no one show up? Embarrassing, right? How do you deal, besides with lots of wine and Hagan Daz? Literary Hub‘s Matthew Norman survived such an event and gives us his tips for keeping our chins up and our spoons down.
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What to Do When No One Shows Up To Your Reading
Matthew Norman on the embarrassment of confronting an empty room
A few days after my first novel Domestic Violets was published, I was scheduled to do a reading at the Barnes & Noble at Johns Hopkins University near my house in Baltimore. It’s difficult to describe how happy I was. I was officially a published novelist, which, at the time, represented the accomplishment of a lifelong dream, and I was about to do my first reading at an esteemed university. Things were good.
I charted my route to the bookstore on my phone, which was just plain silly. It was four miles from my house and had driven by it no less than 15 times in my life. To prepare, I selected a passage and read it aloud over and over, to no one. I spent an embarrassing amount of time picking out my outfit. I wanted to look like a writer, because, of course, I was a writer, but I didn’t want to look like I was trying to look like a writer. Slightly disheveled literary indifference was the goal, so I ultimately chose jeans, one of about 20 nearly identical blue-ish button-up shirts that I own, and a brown corduroy blazer. Sneakers would have been too carefree—too boyish. Instead, I opted for some brown, reasonably casual boots. I didn’t shave.
I got there absurdly early. My phone told me the trip would take about 12 minutes, but I allotted 45 just in case some sort of catastrophe struck along the way. I sat in my car for a while watching people come and go. Whenever someone entered the store, I wondered if he or she was there to see me read.
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