The Highs and Lows of Being an Author

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Canada’s “Queen of Comedy”: Melodie Campbell with her dog, Sunny.

Having just come off my first “Cyber Book Launch” on Facebook for World Enough and Crime, it’s time to mentally prepare for my very first LIVE book launch at Toronto bookstore, the Sleuth of Baker Street.

I have to admit something here, though. I can’t help but worry. What if no one comes? What if people come but nobody buys the book? What if I do or say something stupid? What if it rains that day and my carefully-straightened hair takes on a life of its own? What if, what if, what if . . .

Fortunately, my inaugural outing (November 22, 2 – 4 p.m.) will be for The Whole She-Bang 2 and since it’s an anthology, I’ll be in the company of several other authors, many of who have experience in this sort of thing. By the time I return to the Sleuth of Baker Street on Saturday, December 6 (2 – 4 p.m.) for World Enough and Crime’s official print launch, I might even feel a tiny bit more confident.

At least that’s what I thought until I read this blog post on www.sleuthsayers.org by Canada’s “Queen of Comedy” Melodie Campbell. A prolific, award-winning writer, Melodie shares the highs and lows of being an author. With her permission, I’ve reprinted it here. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

We all know the highs. Those delirious times when you win awards and/or get a royalty cheque that takes you and your family to Europe rather than McDonalds.

I’ve had a few highs this year, winning the Derringer Award and the Arthur Ellis Award in Canada. And I’m exceedingly grateful for them.

Because – thing is – authors get a lot of lows. It’s not just the bad reviews and rejection slips. For some reason, most of my lows seem to cluster around that scariest of all activities: the book signing.

Some people think the worst thing that can happen is nobody shows up. Or when you’re on a panel of 4 authors, and only three people show up.

But that’s not the worst.

1. Worse is when five people show up for your reading. And they’re all pushing walkers. And half way through, when you’re right in the middle of reading a compelling scene, one of them interrupts, shouting, “When does the movie start?”

Sometimes, even large crowds don’t help.

2. I did an event this year with two hundred people in the audience. I was doing some of my standup schtick, and it went over really well. Lots of applause, and I was really pumped. I mean, two hundred people were applauding me and my books! A bunch of hands shot up for questions. I picked the first one and a sweet young thing popped up from her seat and asked in a voice filled with awe, “Do you actually know Linwood Barclay?”

3. Another ego-crusher: I was reading in front of another large crowd last year. Same great attention, lots of applause. I was revved. Only one hand up this time, and she said, in a clearly disappointed voice:

“You don’t look anything like your protagonist.”

So I said, “Sweetheart, not only that, I don’t look anything like my author photo.”

4. One of the best things about being a writer is getting together with other writers to whine about the industry. I was at The Drake in Toronto this year with a bunch of other Canadian crime writers, Howard Shrier, Robbie Rotenberg, Dorothy McIntosh, Rob Brunet… who am I missing?

We were whooping it up in the bar, moaning about the book trade. Someone bought a round. And another. And then I bought a round. And soon, it became necessary to offload some of the product, so I went looking for a place to piddle. You have to go upstairs in the Drake to find washrooms, so I gamely toddled up the stairs, realizing that I couldn’t actually see the steps. I was probably not at my best.

I made it to the landing at the top and scanned a door in front of me. It had a big “W” on it. That seemed sort of familiar, but fuzzy, you know? Then I saw the door to my left. It had an “M” on it. So I thought, ‘M for Melodie!’ and walked right in.

Howard, I think you had probably gone by then, but the guy at the urinal asked for my number.

41KnuRDfQUL._AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-47,22_AA300_SH20_OU15_Melodie Campbell writes funny books, like The Artful Goddaughter. You should probably buy it because she, like, writes about the mob.

 

2 responses to “The Highs and Lows of Being an Author

  1. Judy Penz Sheluk

    Melodie is really funny … she was the MC at Bloody Words in Toronto in June and she had the room laughing. And she’s an amazingly talented writer.