Michael Haskins

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Writers must have thick skin or the rejection slips and none-returned phone calls will penetrate to the heart, not to mention what negative reviews will do!  Writers also need to practice humility.  I have these past few days.

Last week was the gathering of Jimmy Buffett fans – ParrotHeads. They’ve been gathering here in Key West for more than 10 years, celebrating Margaretaville. Remember, Buffett has to be in his early 60s now and most of his fans are close to that or have past it by. Kind of strange seeing these people behaving like teens.

Scott Kirby, a Key West singer-songwriter, is popular with this crowd and since I took the title of my latest book – Free Range Institution – from one of his songs, he thought it would be a good idea if I signed the book the nights he performed at the Smokin’ Tuna Saloon.

I thought it was a great idea! Scott’s fans would buy copies of my book like salmon swimming upstream!

Thursday night I showed up, Angela the night manager helped me with a table and chair close to the stage, and I was prepared to sell books. Unfortunately, I wasn’t prepared for only three sales. Come on, I thought I had it all going for me. The ParrotHeads are mostly empty nesters, spend like drunken sailors and dress like it’s a costume party – which is really, kind of, is.

Saturday night was a little better, but not much. I remember Dennis Lehane speaking at SleuthFest in March about showing up for signings and only a half dozen people came. It even happens to writers of Lahane’s stature.

While I didn’t make the sales I hoped for, I did meet a dozen or so people who’ve read my work, some on Kindle and we talked about the story lines and characters. Some like Murphy, some Padre Thomas. My bubby Texas Rich took photos for my website and people talking to me or buying books had someone take their photo with me too. One woman said she was happy to meet me but needed the photo of us together so her friends in Ohio would believe she met me. Words like that are good for the ego! If I had walked out early because of no sales, I wouldn’t have met her. Feeling good that meeting me had made her day, made my day – or in this case, my night.

I learned humility because of book signings. I want to be popular and sell more and more books, but it hasn’t happened – yet – and it may never. I like book signings because I enjoy talking to readers. I like finding out what attracts them to the book, or their favorite character or least favorite.  I think those that show up at signings are a little envious of writers too. If they only knew how tough a road we travel.

So, when your book is published, and you go to your first signing or your 100th, go in humbly because those people waiting to meet you and hear what you have to say are the most important people you’ll ever meet. If they see a phony, they’ll tell friends. If they meet someone that impresses them by giving them time and listening to them, they’ll tell friends and they’ll be looking forward to your next signing. 

Learn humility, the road to success is paved with humble bricks.

“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.”
Dorothy Parker.

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