Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Ten Things I Learned at Men of Mystery

On Saturday, November 17, I had the great pleasure of participating in the thirteenth annual Men of Mystery conference in southern California.  As one of the invited “gentlemen of this genre” I, along with fifty other men of mystery (each more talented, more accomplished, wealthier, and better looking than me) spent the day talking with mystery lovers from all walks of life.  I had a blast.  Here is what I learned:

1) I felt honored to be surrounded by best-selling authors, and I felt honored to be surrounded by readers who cared enough to shell out some money and dedicate the better part of their day to their favorite genre.  Without them, we couldn’t do what we do.

2) For reasons I cannot truly fathom, standing in front of a crowd talking about myself is vaguely terrifying.  I am a college professor.  I stand in front of rooms of people all day long, and it doesn’t bother me at all.  But talking about my books made me self-conscious.

3) That being said, I came to celebrate my archaeological mystery American Caliphate, and I was going to do right by my book, my publisher, myself, so I had to work up some nerve.  If you want to know how I did that, see number 4.

4) As I was writing my speech that morning, I had the TV on and I saw a news item about the singer Taylor Swift.  I am not aware of having ever listened to a Taylor Swift song, but she looks to be quite young, somewhere between eleven and nineteen years old.  And there she was on TV as comfortable as could be.  And I thought to myself, if an eleven-to-nineteen year-old girl can stand up and talk without fear, then so can I.  And so I did.

5) Hotel breakfast buffets are overpriced, but you wind up with way more bacon than would otherwise have been likely.

6) Sitting at a table autographing copies of your book feels pretty great.  I am grateful to everyone who stopped by to say hi or to let me sign their copy of my book.  I wanted to hug every one of them, but I think I would have gotten in trouble.

7) Nobody thinks its funny when you offer to autograph a book that someone else has written.  I offered to do just that on several occasions, and I chuckled each time.  But I chuckled alone.

8) Taylor Swift is actually pretty cute.

9) No matter how famous or well-known, or no matter how obscure and unread you are, you have to work it.  Publicity is vital if you want to make it in this line of work.  To that end, if you’d like to learn more about American Caliphate, or my other mysteries, or if you just want to earn frequent flier miles, please visit my website - www.williamdoonan.com

10) I am a man of mystery.  On November 17, I felt like a real writer.  I still do.


Sean Patrick Reardon said...

Enjoyed that, and congrats! # 5 is oh so true ;)

Anonymous said...

Oh congratulations and cheers to anything that makes us feel validated as a writer!

William Doonan said...

Thanks, Sean & Julie! I'm looking forward to next year's conference.

Liane Spicer said...

This post made me smile on all counts. I so identify. I have no problem standing in front of a bunch of students. Put me in front of any other crowd and I all but pass out. I must remember the Taylor Swift trick next time around.

Ah, bacon. *sigh*

As for chuckling alone--some people just have no sense of humor. I like yours. And you are a real writer. (Maybe if we hear it enough, we'll get around to believing it. Because it's true.)

Charles Gramlich said...

Good post! Some fun in the morning.

William Doonan said...

Thanks, Liane and Charles. Reaffirmation is important sometimes, and we forget that too often.

Eugenia O'Neal said...

Great post! I never like speaking in front of a crowd either. As for chuckling alone, I do it all the time! lol!

William Doonan said...

I do it all the time, Eugenia. I usually pretend I'm talking into a cellphone so that people don't think I'm crazy.

Sunny Frazier said...

It all gets easier in time. Pretty soon you start seeing the same faces and it feels like a class reunion. At that point, it's your job to calm the nerves of the newbies.

Being among our peers and fans is a great break from sitting alone in front of a computer. I always feel more energized after a conference--exhausted, but ready to work.

William Doonan said...

Absolutely, Sunny! I felt hugely energized. And I've been hugely productive ever since. Strange to think that one day I might not be one of the newbies. That's something to look forward to.

Cora said...

Sounds like you had fun at the conference. I never heard of it before but how nicely you fit into it. I'm looking forward to my first conference when I have book in hand to sell.

marta chausée said...

Very entertaining post, William! I am so envious that you are transitioning from newbie to seasoned, book-signing vet. I aspire to be where you are soooon.