Another Bust

by wjw on May 13, 2013

The New Mexico Book Fiesta was, as I feared (and more or less expected) a desert.  Picture a giant convention hall full of booths and dealers.  Then picture a handful of people wandering around in silence, most of them authors and dealers just strolling over to say hello to one another.

If this had been a horror film, they would all have died in the first two reels.

I looked in at the talks and lectures, and none had an audience of more than half a dozen.

I began by being annoyed that they couldn’t think of anything more interesting to do with me than a signing, and left relieved that the event hadn’t consumed more than 60 minutes of my time.

During my signing I sold four books, which were the only books that Page One had sold that day.  The previous day they’d sold all of six books.

Every book I sold was sold to someone I know personally.

Sadly, it appears that New Mexico’s dwindling population of readers had found something else to do with their weekend.

I suspected that this might happen, because I attended the last book fair, put together by the same gent, back in 1986 or -7.  Nobody came to that one, either.

At that event, the teenage daughter of a friend had volunteered to dress up as Sarah from the cover of Hardwired, and walked around the festival holding a copy of the book.  Because I came with a visual aide, I got something like eight seconds of a TV interview that night, which deeply upset the poet I was signing with, who clearly felt that the subliterate trash that was science fiction had usurped the TV time that was rightly hers.

Hey, it’s TV.  You gotta think visual, lady!

I didn’t have a visual aid this time out, but that was okay, because there were no TV cameras.

So that’s two failed events I’ve attended in the last week.   It’s possible that I’m a human plague bacillus programmed to destroy literary events, but I rather think the events were destroyed before I ever got there.

Which reminds me of someone I met last weekend at the Jacksonville event. “I’ve read science fiction all my life,” he said, “and I’m the science fiction reviewer for the local paper.  And I’ve never heard of you.”

So, I thought, my thirty-four year career has come down to just . . . this . . . moment.

Just.  This. Moment.

Fortunately TSA hadn’t let my fly with my pocket knife, so I had nothing with which to slit my wrists.

And now I’m home, and contemplating the Albuquerque Comics Expo at which I’m a guest in June.  And thinking, “Hey, you guys better take your antivirals, just in case . . . “

TJIC May 13, 2013 at 9:49 am

Ugh. That’s terrible – the thing that middle school social-humiliation nightmares are made of.

Remind yourself that it’s just the venue that sucks – you write great fiction, and you’ve got an audience base that loves reading it (…but which does not go to publishing events like this).

John Appel May 13, 2013 at 10:17 am

Regarding the reviewer in Jacksonville – well, what the heck *has* he been reading? Or has he been too lazy to look down to the end of the alphabetically sorted books to the bottom couple of rows, where so much good stuff (Williams, Varley, Vinge, Zahn & Zelazny off the top of my head) resides?

Cripes, there’s a ton of authors whom I’ve never read but at least I’ve heard of them.

TCWriter May 13, 2013 at 2:16 pm

Always nice to hear of yet another reviewer who doesn’t know the Hugo & Nebulae Awards exist. Or cyberpunk. Or short fiction.

Stuff like that.

Frankly, I think it’s time for the nuclear option.

The WJW sex tape.

wjw May 14, 2013 at 3:41 am

That’s a very kind thought, but I don’t think anyone would pay for a sex tape with me in it. Not unless I was banging Rihanna, anyway.

Michael Grosberg May 15, 2013 at 3:45 pm

John: Don’t forget Gene Wolfe, Peter Watts, and Robert Charles Wilson. the “W” shelf is THE best shelf in the SF section!

Walter – sad to hear it turned out like that. On a related note, will you be going to this year’s WorldCon?

DensityDuck May 18, 2013 at 8:04 am

“cyberpunk? That’s, like, Johnny Mnemonic and William Gibson, right?”

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