on thursday, i was listening to kevin and bean on my drive to work as usual, and to my delight neil strauss
was on talking about his new book Everyone Loves You When You're Dead. he actually spoke through 3 commercial breaks, which is more than any other guest i've heard on kevin and bean.
so late that same night, it occurs to me that he probably will have a book signing, although he did not mention so on the radio (and I'm sure he didn't because I downloaded the podcast to relisten). i googled on my iphone while laying in bed and yay, there is a book signing tomorrow! and it's at a barnes and noble close to my office! surely this is meant to be for my 30 in 30 list.
my plan is to go early but i may get stuck in this long proceeding at work. which i do. plus, first i have to buy a dress after work for a wedding i have to go tomorrow.
i show up around 8:15pm, buy a book (which they make you do) and stand in what looks like only a moderate wait; the line stretches along only half the length of one wall (although this was a huge barnes and noble). the event began at 7:30 pm with the author giving a talk and reading a bit from the book. or at least i think this is what happened because i couldn't hear from where i was standing in the line. the signing itself didn't start til 8:45pm.
standing in line was rather uneventful. i read from the book a bit and talked to some older guys who were in front of me in line (btw, i was one of maybe 3 girls in attendance in a crowd of 250-300[fn1]. if you read the author's best selling book the game, you will know why). however, i did think about what i was going to say to the author. my initial thought was to tell him how i heard about him (in that urban escape class i took after i took the bar where i learned to pick locks--everyone else except me was taking the class because they read the author's last book emergency where he describes his experiences in the same class); how i appreciate that the first run is on paperback[fn2]; how i then read his book emergency and loved it; how the book is for me but he can just sign and date because i think its weird when people request that the author write "To So-and-So" when they don't know the author personally; and i wanted to ask him if he still lived in LA (the author wrote at length about living in LA in his last book). i decided that all of that was just me talking, which i would find annoying if i were him. i decided to go with: the book is for me but i would appreciate it if you signed and dated it, i loved reading emergency, and, if i found an opportune moment to say it, do you still live in LA.
the line ended up going very slowly because, despite a paper barnes hands you telling you that you can't do this, the author kept getting up from his signing table and taking pictures with fans after he signed their books. on the nice side, someone else in line mentioned that people were able to talk to him a little longer; he had overheard a fan getting a signature asking the author "what do you think of europe?" this made me happy. i get to talk to neil strauss! maybe i can work in all those other things i wanted to say. excite.
so as i near the front of the line, i decide to take his picture at this point because i don't want to hold up the line and because I am a rules follower. also, i notice that people shake his hand. i want to do so too. i also notice people calling the author neil to his face. i don't want to do this because, just like requesting the author write "To _____" when signing, this suggests they know the author personally. i actually overheard people saying things like "oh please make it out "To Greg, [insert well known line from the author's stories]." This repulses me because it mimics an authentic situation where writers will sign a book and include genuine uplifting/mocking/inspiring words to those who mean something to the writer. i guess i hate on anything that seems inauthentic, but as i write this i wonder if i inadvertantly do anything like this. being human, i probably do.
so now i am next in line. the author is signing for those older guys i was talking to earlier. inexplicably i am getting nervous. i decide to just be myself as much as possible. how can i not be myself?
it is now my turn. i smile big and walk up to the table and say "its so nice to meet you" as I put my book on the table in front of the author. he also smiles and says "thanks for waiting," then asks "what's your name." ok, i know from overhearing that he is asking because he is going to write "To Your-Name-Here." so this is how i respond: "oh! um" ::look away and up:: "uh, you can just sign and date it, thanks." i totally forgot my prepared line "oh I'm Vicky, its for me but you can just sign and date it." uncool.
then as the author is signing his name, i realize i should be talking here. but i can't think of anything to say! that would have been a perfect moment to mention the book being a paperback on the first run. i really think he would have told me why he didn't go ebook, based on interviews with him that i've read. so i just watch him sign and he says "thanks for waiting" a second time. i think this is just what he says by default when the fan is dumbstruck and mute and not talking. like me. this is how i reply: "oh! no, no!" uncool.
as the author hands the book back, i at least remember to ask if he still lived in LA, which, being all this silence, now is a good time. "do you still live in LA?" his eyes light up and he goes "yeah, yeah." then he asks me where i live. i tell him i work in century city but live in silverlake. then he asks something quietly which i don't hear so i go "huh?" and lean forward. uncool.
he asks again "what do you do in century city?" get ready for my reply: "oh!" ::make a face that he will think its lame:: "i'm a lawyer" ::follow up with "it's not a big deal" face:: as it goes when you make a face that anticipates the other person will think something is lame, it is a self-fulfilling prophecy that my remark that i'm a lawyer comes out...lame. sigh. uncool.
then the author says his lawyer is here tonight. i say "oh yeah?" he says yeah, the lawyer is a short bald asian guy running around, his name is julian. i say oh, i'll look out for him. then the author says "are you coming to the viper room?" there is an after-party at the viper room, but the author has been handing out tickets for $5 admission to whoever asks for them when getting a signature. so it's really not exclusive or anything. i say "i can go" (uncool) and he hands me two tickets and says "i'll see you later." he then makes a face that translates in my head as "ok if you don't have anything else to say..." i say it was so nice to meet you again and leave. no handshake. i can't believe i forgot to shake his hand.
i realized viscerally at the time and more clearly later that he is probably trying to pimp me out to his asian attorney. i think at least this is can be a networking opportunity (the author had a glimmer of interest when i said i worked in century city so maybe his attorney does too), so i decide to go to the after party.
i leave at 11pm (i waited in total around 2 hours and 45 mins for my signature). i go to the grocery store and eat something first because he probably wasn't done with the book signing. barnes closes at 11pm, so i wonder if everyone else got their books signed.
i show up around 12:15am to the viper room. first order of business is go pee. i forgot the restroom is upstairs so it takes me a minute to find it. then i get an amstel light and wander around to see if i know anyone/to look for the asian attorney/to look for the author. i see no one so watch the burlesque act that is going on. after the act is done, there is nothing to do. i wander around some more and drink my beer. i don't see anyone at the bar i want to strike up a conversation with. so i just leave, not able to redeem my uncoolness.
then i think back and maybe i would have dug myself into a deeper uncool hole, so maybe it works out that i did not stay.
end result, i was uncool.
end note: i don't see myself going out of my way to get authors signatures,which was not the case here. the barnes was 5 mins from my office. i looked up the signing and it was the next day, so required no planning. and i didn't even skip working for it. but i don't think getting a live signature, if arduous, would be worth it. i was planning on getting another author's signature when his book comes out late this year, but if it's not local i'm not going to do it.
[fn1] i overheard some store staff and security say that the turnout was 250-300.
[fn2] although i appreciate books and the first run not being a hardcover, the author said on the kevin and bean show that he is not doing kindle, and didn't give any reason as to why. i was hoping if i mentioned it he would volunteer why he wasn't doing electronic media.