by Steve Piacente
Waiting last Sunday to make the first of many rapid-fire pitches to a ballroom full of booksellers, I thought of how Elmer used to gaze at Bugs, smack his lips and imagine Wabbit Stew.
It seemed an appropriate image, for the premiere event at the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) is called the “Moveable Feast.”
The “feast” is comprised of some two dozen authors who move from table to table every eight minutes. The goal, obviously, is to get your book added to the menu in independent bookstores throughout the South.
Any fear heading in was quickly dispelled. The sellers were engaged and personable, and asked questions that made the exercise feel more like a conversation than an interview.
And yet that’s what it was, and what it is anytime you get a stranger to sit still and listen to your pitch. Eight minutes is actually long. In my experience, if you can’t arouse interest in the time it takes the elevator to go from 1 to 12, you’re done.
The other challenge is maintaining your own energy and enthusiasm after uttering the same words over and over. It’s wise to remember that Table 23 doesn’t know you from Adam, and couldn’t care less how sharp you were two tables earlier.
In fact, Table 23 looked a little overwhelmed by the time I got there. They had already heard from several authors and really, how much literary speed dating could anyone handle in an hour?
I kept it short. My novel, I said, is built around a dark secret that will disrupt a historic election. It will take you where CSPAN is never invited, to back rooms where deals are made, futures are decided, and where the line between right and wrong is not so clear. The title, I said is Bootlicker.
I glanced from person to person, saw they were at least interested enough for me to go on. So I did, any thoughts of Wabbit Stew now long vanquished.
Have you had a similar literary speed dating experience?