What is a good literary citizen?
When I walked into my public library last week to return some books, I noticed a flyer for an upcoming book release party. The author was a local memoirist; it looked like she may have written about her journey with dyslexia; that was my guess anyway.
“Perfect!” I thought, making a mental note to attend.
I like to support local authors, and in preparation for the day when I become a published author, the book release party was a good opportunity to observe what’s involved.
When I got home, I put the date in my calendar, but I couldn’t remember the author’s name. A few days later, when I tried to look it up on the library’s website, my internet was down and then I forgot about it.
But I went to the party anyway. When I left the house, I told my husband, “I may be the only one who shows up, so I don’t think I’ll be too long.”
I pictured an insecure woman nervously facing a row of chairs, empty except for me. Giving her a smile of encouragement, I would listen intently, and after her reading, we would commiserate on how difficult it is to get readers’ attention. I would buy her book, her only sale that day.
Reading it at home, it would be an amateurish, blow-by-blow chronology, like many self-published memoirs, in my humble-as-yet-unpublished opinion. But I would support her as a writer because I know firsthand it is a long, lonely, and hard as hell road to publication.
In short, I planned to be in good literary citizen.
A good literary citizen supports other writers and authors.
There are many ways to practice literary citizenship, also called “writer karma,” as I write about in this essay.
The bottom line is supporting and promoting writers, the art of writing, and the written word in whatever ways you can. I wanted to show up in person for the local author, and that’s what I did.
Is that music? I thought as I walked up the stairs in the library. It was—a two-piece band. And food. And wine. And a crowd?
Waiting in line to buy her book, I read the jacket and realized it was the author’s son who had dyslexia; she had fought to help him succeed, and now he was about to graduate from Oxford.
It was a story similar to mine: A challenged son who becomes a productive adult because of the love of his mother. The book is “Reversed, A memoir,” by Lois Letchford.
A confident Ms. Letchford enthralled the audience with readings from her book. I know I will be humbled and inspired by her writing, as well as by her story. When I finish reading, I’ll let you know more about it.
Someday, I’ll have my own book launch party. I have the perfect model to follow.
I hope you’ll be a good literary citizen for me.
If you can make it, I hope you’ll attend, patiently waiting in line to buy my book, giving me smiles of encouragement. In return, I’ll do my best to inspire you with my story.
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Good for you for thinking ahead, Karen!
Deb enjoys doing book events (www.caitlynsadventure.com/meet-the-author/book-events.html). In terms of sales, we got out what we put into them, but in terms of the joy of meeting people (especially kids, since hers are kids books) she’s had a wonderful time. I bet you’ll get the same enjoyment, and you’ll prep more so you’ll get sales, too. (Although… a band? Well, this is why I’m not in marketing.)
Well, I’d love to have a band, but I know I’ll have to weigh the cost of a band against the ten cents or so I may earn from each book sale. Hmmm. Maybe I can just hum a little. Can Deb sing?
I would love to come….you know me..always like a party! However, I just hope it is not in the same year as wedding planning because I do believe I have mush for brains!! I am always very late reading your posts and sometimes not responding at all, but just know I am so proud of all of your accomplishments and can’t wait to say…I knew her when!!!
Oh Janis, I always know I can count on you!! And you’re making me blush. I so appreciate your comment from your mushy brain. LOL! And don’t worry … I kinda have to finish writing the memoir before I can have any kind of party. You’ll be well recovered by then!
What a fun and exciting event it will be for you and everyone fortunate enough to know you and be in attendance! I can’t wait!
Oh thank you Paula! I know I’ll see you in the crowd if at possible.:)