Posted 8 years ago
A few years back, when I used to be a book editor, I attended something called BEA, which stands for Book Expo America, in Los Angeles. Part of the time I had to man our booth, but there were plenty of opportunities to go off and check out the new titles from other publishers, some of whom had flown their celebrity authors to the event to schmooze the press.
One of the minor celebs in attendance that year was John Hodgman (you may know him from his appearances on John Stewart and as the PC in all those Mac ads). Hodgman's book was not even printed yet, but he was scheduled to sign autographs anyway. So, he ended up signing the brochure for his book, which folded out into a poster and must have cost his publisher a small fortune. And people wonder why the book-publishing business is in trouble...
I was only the 12th person in line (you can tell because he numbered the brochures he signed that day), but the guy spent a ton of time with each person he met, asking them questions about themselves, follow-up questions on their answers, and on and on. I think it took 45 minutes to get my turn.
He didn't sign my brochure right away. He sort of sized me up first, albeit very politely. By the time he did his doodles and scrawled "Hello Ben," I felt comfortable enough to tease him with an, "Oh man; now I'll never be able to sell it on eBay!" Without missing a beat, he smiled and added "(or eBay)." It seemed to be the moment of personalization and connection he had been looking for. Next!