Friday, October 22, 2010

Why No Post Yesterday? Offsites, Collapsed Shelves, and More

I started the morning at 6:30 AM at the Pfister for a breakfast offsite with Tempo. They are a women's leadership organization, that just to confuse you a bit, includes men. Yesterday's presentation was for Gary Bradt's Ring in the Rubble, an inspiring book about coping with change. Everyone involved was very nice, sales were good, and I got a good rate at the parking garage. What could be better?

I needed a good day, as the day before was kind of tough. We lost our event with Charles Baxter event for Gryphon--the pub date was pushed back a bit and that let to him having less time before he starts at Stanford for spring semester. In the end, I was a little worried as the event was a Saturday in January, and UWM, where he is taught with almost religious fervor, was still on break. We also lost the Shepherd Express Best of Milwaukee to Half Price Books (though, admittedly, we got Critics Choice) and I heard some bad news about another indie retailer I like. I'm hoping to figure out how to help with that one in some way, but I can't talk about it. The good news was I booked T. C. Boyle for the next novel, When the Killing's Done. Jason's already read it and promised me a rec soon. Very exciting!

While I was in the store, another one of our cases collapsed. This has been happening with some frequency, and alas, our regular source for fixing this stuff has been too busy to come out with regularity. Amie found another person who came in and reinforced the shelf right away.

My favorite book series on the shelving cart turned out to be these two-in-one novels from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Really nice jackets, a good pairing of books, and a nice hardcover price of $22. Paper quality, eh. Selections from Jhumpa Lahiri, Jonathan Safran Foer, Virginia Woolf, and George Orwell. Note that the two contemporary authors left for other publishers. Would they have done this package if they were still there? I think I'd be ok with it if I was a successful author--they look nice and can build audience.

My evening was with Mona Simpson, who read from and talked about My Hollywood. The crowd was smaller than I hoped, and I accepted full blame, though I should say I didn't purposely program Nancy Pearl against Simpson. That event came up later and the Milwaukee Public Library graciously let us be involved. And we brought them the Ian Frazier event for Travels in Siberia this Sunday at 2 PM. It's a great partnership.
Oh, and did I mention, for only the second time, I left the music running as the event started? Arggggggh.

How do I get you guys to show up for a writer of this calibre? I feel like if I group too many together, folks come out for the best one (well, let's hope I have 200+ people for Nicole Krauss next Wednesday) and not the other worthy authors. I was cocky the first year, as folks were showing up for authors in bigger numbers than I expected. Now I'm back down to earth. I think each literary author needs something special behind it. Let me try to come up with something. Let's hope Mary Helen Stefaniak still has a good number of friends in Milwaukee for tonight's event for The Cailiffs of Baghdad, Georgia (7 PM, 10/22). More on events here.

Simpson was incredibly gracious and I'd recommend seeing her when she shows up in your town. I had a better time than I deserve, partly because I got to have a drink with her author escort and two other notable Wisconsin writers and it was very fun.

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