Of all the moments and events that I had in front of me, I think I was most nervous about this one.
Sometime well after I'd signed with Doubleday, but well before Bad Man was released or even finished, I had a conversation with the publicity department. More specifically, I had a conversation with Michael Goldsmith -- the same one man army that would later help my signing at Comic Con run so smoothly.
We talked about where I ought to go for a proper book launch. I thought about telling him that I had tons of fans in Florence or, strangely-but-please-don't-try-to-confirm, in the penthouse suite of a repurposed castle somewhere. But I knew that the place I wanted to go was home.
Pensacola, Florida is where I grew up. It's where much of my family lives, and it's where most of my friends are. Choosing the city was easy. So, it was just a matter of choosing the venue.
There are a couple of big book stores in Pensacola, and there was a part of me that thought it would be cool to set up at one of those places. But one, I wanted a smaller location. Who knows how many people will show up? I didn't budget for cardboard cutouts of fake fans to fill the space. And two, there was another store in town that had a lot going for it.
Open Books sends about 10,000 books a year to inmates throughout the Florida prison system. You can read more about their project here. They do great work, and it was something that I was excited to participate in.
I've never done a signing like this before. If you read my post about Comic Con, then you know how intimidating that was, but this was something else, because it wasn't just a book signing. Here, I was going to talk about Bad Man, then read from it in front of (hopefully) a bunch of people who were specifically there to see me.
I know a reading might not sound like a big deal. Or maybe it does. I dunno. I can't read your mind or see into your heart. But there's an art to readings that I'm not very practiced in, due to the fact that I have zero practice in doing them. You want to pick a passage that's not too long but not too short. Dialogue is probably a bad idea. Make sure to provide context for the scene. Etc. I wrestled with finding the right passage for a while. This was going to be most of these people's first exposure to my book, and it was going to be coming out of my mumbly face.
I'll cut to the chase here. I'm really happy with how everything turned out. On August 11, at 6pm, a bunch of my friends and family (and even a couple strangers who showed up without me asking them to) piled into Open Books and listened to me talk about Bad Man. There was food and beer. There was laughter and crying (on account of a baby who showed up. Well, not so much showed up as was brought by his parents). Funny story about that baby -- he started crying as soon as I started my reading. I felt the same way, little dude.
I'm grateful to all the people who came out, friends, family, strangers. Johnny at Open Books told me that it was one of their most successful signings, which is great all around. Means more money for the Prison Books Project. It also meant that only one person bawled his eyes out at the signing.