The author’s prayer

Part of the joy of finishing a new book is the free time available. Eighteen months of 14-hour days researching/writing/editing are suddenly over. The book is published. Now what?

The publicity tour, that’s what. Many authors complain about having to do publicity. Not me. What’s wrong with talking about your baby, telling favorite anecdotes, and celebrating its very existence? To be sure, many of the interviewers at newspapers and broadcast outlets haven’t read the book. Just as the interview is about to start, they lean in and whisper, “I’m sorry, I haven’t had a chance to read the book yet. I’ve been so busy.” They say it with such honesty it’s as if they think I’ve never before heard such a confession.

In the early years (my first book was published in 1983) I’d be offended but I soon learned that gave me an opening. I could take charge of the interview, tell the stories I wanted, and make sure to mention the title of the book often. Make the interviewer look good and the piece will run longer than if you got angry with her lack of knowledge about your tome.

Along the way, I discovered another secret of television. Don’t bother answering the question, just tell your stories. No one ever complains, they’re delighted to fill the required minutes.

Still, some interviewers are better than others. A few spend time thinking about the topic and have a planned approach. Such a one is John Maciel of CKWR in Kitchener-Waterloo. It was a pleasure to talk to him again this week. He made life easy for me and interesting for his listeners on FM 98.5.

There is also fun on the road. I was once picked up at an airport by the wrong publicist. We got all the way to the first interview before she realized I was not Wayne Johnston, the novelist. That was followed by the fastest trip back to the airport I have ever taken, whereupon I was unceremoniously dumped at the main door while she went looking for her lost man.

And there are always those interviewers who blithely introduce me as Rod McKuen. “No, no,” I protest, “he’s the bad poet.” Which leads me to the author’s prayer: Say what you like; just get my name right.

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