Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

It ain't easy to be me

by Robison Wells

An important thing to remember about me is that I'm both rich and famous.

Tomorrow I'm heading down to the annual convention of the LDS Bookseller's Association. Oh my, what a burden is placed upon me. The curse of celebrity. As though I have time for these social trivialities. I should have people who can go to conventions for me! Bah!

I believe that my purpose for going is to be the eye candy at Covenant's booth. Some lone bookseller will be walking down the densely-packed aisles, dejected after a long day of bookselling, and across the crowd he or she will catch my eye. I'll smile, with those shimmering Colgate-polished teeth of mine, and that bookseller's heart will be warmed. "Come to my booth," my smile seems to beckon. "Come to my booth and view the many fine wares with which you are presented, and converse with an extremely attractive author."

Some authors refuse to go to these events because they're treated like a piece of meat, what with our unbuttoned wide-collared shirts and gold chains. But I say: "If you've got it, flaunt it!"

Sure, it's tiresome being one of the glittering literati, but you roll with the punches.

Or whatever.

Shortly after I became a published author, I was perturbed to discover that no one really cared. Oh sure, I'd mention it and they'd say "wow", and we'd talk a little about the book, and how hard it was to write. But that was about it. So I twisted a scripture and came to a conclusion: An author is never accepted in his own country. I mean, obviously my family knows me too well to be impressed, and my coworkers know me too well to even acknowledge my existence, but the fans -- they're the ones who think I'm the shiznit (as it were).

But, you know, I go to booksignings, and I sit at my table, and even there no one really cares. And the truth is that there are more than 100,000 books released across the country every year. So the fact that I've written one (or two or three) just really ain't that dang rad.

Well, I guess it is neat. But it's no reason to expect instant celebrity status.

Brandon Sanderson, a friend of mine from a writing group way back in the day, has two nationally published fantasy novels -- really, really good fantasy novels. His second, Mistborn, was released last month, and he held a big pre-release party at Waldenbooks. People were lining up hours before he arrived, and he signed a couple hundred books. Contrast that with me: at a particularly good book signing, I might sell between twenty and thirty books -- and that's at a really good signing. And most of those books were impulse-buys, not rabid fans anxious to see me.

My point: being an author means nothing. It's a job title, nothing more. Expecting a fanbase right off the bat is ludicrous. That'd be like opening a business and expecting customers to waltz right in just because you have a sign on the door. No, fans (and customers) are only gathered in two ways: product quality, and marketing.

And, since we all know I can only offer a limited amount of quality, it's time to dig in and do some marketing. So, I'm going to the Bookseller's convention, and I'll shake hands and kiss babies and hand out free stuff.

Fame and fortune, here I come!


At 8/15/2006 9:47 PM, Blogger Jeff Savage said...

Sorry, bo babies allowed at Booksellers. Maybe you can do your babykissing out front before you do your hand shaking?

At 8/15/2006 9:48 PM, Blogger Jeff Savage said...

Should be no babies allowed. Not sure what a bo baby is anyway. I think it's from a Billy Joel song.

At 8/16/2006 11:48 AM, Blogger Bryan Hickman said...

Honestly, Rob, given your shady personal history, I wouldn't want you anywhere near my baby.

At 8/16/2006 12:08 PM, Blogger Mean Aunt said...

It's true-you are famous. A friend sent me a picture of himself and Stephanie Black with the comment that "some other author took the picture. I think it's the guy who married [mutual friend's] cousin."

So at least you married well.

Though my niece is dying to see you in person.

At 8/16/2006 12:16 PM, Blogger RobisonWells said...

Well, if I can't be famous for being an author, at least I can be famous for taking photos of other authors.

And Hickman, the thought of you having children makes me cry for the future of mankind.

At 8/21/2006 12:24 AM, Blogger ssdawn2002 said...

Rob, I have two of your books that I want you to sign..where are you heading to next for book signings? I was not able to make it to the big event in July with Shanda. Hey, you are famous to us at LDSWBR!!~~Sheila

At 8/21/2006 10:19 AM, Blogger RobisonWells said...

ssdawn, I don't know if you're still checking here, but this week I'll be signing in Idaho Falls (tomorrow from 1-3), BYU Education Week on Friday from 11-1, and at three Seagull stores in Weber County. Email me if that doesn't work: robisonwells @


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