Last week, I attended the American Booksellers Association’s “Winter Institute,” their annual conference, which was held in Asheville, North Carolina, the town where Zelda Fitzgerald famously perished. I did not perish while I was in Asheville, thankfully, and I was honored that my publisher choose to take little ol’ me to the event, because it’s a pretty big deal. The conference is for independent booksellers from across the U.S. and Canada (and I even met a couple New Zealanders!). It was a wonderful experience getting to meet so many of the lovely people who play a key role in helping our literary culture thrive. I’ve been invited to visit bookstores from California to the New York island, from the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters. Very exciting.
I had my first-ever book signing during the author reception.
This was a surreal experience. I’ve had two surreal, almost out-of-body experiences since Dietland became a thing and this was one of them. The first was when I had my author photo taken by Marion Ettlinger. I had just arrived back in NYC after being away for about a year and I remember sitting in her studio, with that famous camera of hers pointed at me, and I thought: “What the hell am I doing here? There must be some sort of mix-up.” I felt the same way during the book signing.
And there is a lot of anxiety during book signings! Such as: Is my line as long as everyone else’s? [I was sitting near T.C. Boyle and his line was really long.]; and also, I didn’t realize until the signing started that I needed to think of something pithy to write in the books along with my name. The stress. But I had a handler (hi Hannah!) and she actually managed to keep me calm and serene. You know that’s no easy task, so maybe she drugged me…
Some of the booksellers had read Dietland, some had started reading it and others were planning to read it. Of the group that had already read it, I got some great feedback from guy readers. This doesn’t necessarily surprise me, because men often respond to my writing in an enthusiastic way, which many people probably wouldn’t expect, given what I write about. The trick is getting men to pick up a book like Dietland in the first place.
This reminds me that I really need an endorsement from a male writer on the book.
Are you there, Chuck Palahniuk? It’s me, Sarai.
We sent you a copy of Dietland.
Please read it.