Why The Subconscious Hates Book Signings

I’m sure some writers approach public appearances with the confidence of TV’s Richard Castle, who swaggers into every room like he has the world by the keyboard. Then again, maybe not … Castle seems to have become a bestselling novelist without ever actually writing. In other words, he’s every writer’s dream.
I, on the other hand, have to actually pound away at the keyboard to produce a manuscript. Probably I’m more representative. If that’s true, then most writers approach book signings with no confidence at all. What’s worse? That no one will show up at all, or that they’ll show up to point and laugh at your temerity in thinking you actually deserve any sort of success?
Like most things, the anticipation is worse than the reality. (Not with dentists. Oh, not with dentists.) Still, as I approach the next book signing, I can’t help thinking: Is somebody going to finally call me out?
Dude, you suck. What makes you think people will actually want to read your books?
“Hey, I’m published!”
So was Hitler.
“That’s just mean.”
That’s my subconscious speaking. But my subconscious assures me every time that real people will show up and say the same thing.
It used to whisper to me, “You’re a horrible writer!” Finally, after a few decades, I came to accept that I was actually a pretty good writer. Then it started whispering, “There are millions of good writers! You’re a little minnow in a big sea. You’re so pathetic that even your subconscious can’t come up with a cliché that doesn’t involve little fish in the ocean.”
Other times it gets bored and switches: You’ll never write full time! You’ll die at a keyboard, working two full time jobs and never taking the time to vegetate on the couch with chips and dip.
“Oh, yeah? Well, my wife and doctor won’t let me eat chips and dip anymore, so there!”
Nice riposte, use that in your imaginary Pulitzer speech.
Is it any wonder, then, that I hate promoting myself? Okay, I have a book signing coming up Monday, at the Noble County Public Library in Albion. So why can’t I just yell it out, rather than writing some long article about it? “Hey, be there! Three to six p.m. on Main Street! I’ll have all my books!”
You’re pathetic. That’s your own home turf, what are you worried about? Try having a book signing in Chicago, see who shows up there.
“You’re my subconscious, you just called yourself pathetic.”
I know. It’s pathetic.
You can’t win when you take on your own subconscious.
By the time November 17th rolls around I’ll be too worried about the details of the signing to let my inner voice bother me. I’ll sell some copies of my various works, go home happy that anyone bought any at all, and go back to work on my next book project.
Then the voice will start whispering again. But you know what? I’m a good writer, by gosh, so I’ll ignore it … at least, until it’s time to send in the next manuscript.
I signed a book for a Senator, so there.


  1. Unless one actually is Richard Castle (or Stephen King, Dan Brown, Janet Evanovich, or someone else on their success level, which most of us are not), booksignings can be long, lonely events. I always prefer joint signings. The more authors the better. They're fun, and authors having fun draw readers with open wallets!

    1. I've been in one joint signing, and enjoyed it very much. But I've only one had book signing that was really long and boring -- up until now all others have zoomed right along. So far, I've managed to avoid the ones with no sales!

  2. Hope you sell lots of books. Anyway, dying at the keyboard isn't such a bad way to go.

    1. No, I can't argue that! I'd just rather die at the keyboard in my bungalo in Hawaii. At age 95.

  3. Replies
    1. It would be nice if there were a few dozen to an oodle!

  4. Please keep ignoring the subconscious! They'll love you. Smile and sign away. Then start pounding the keyboard again. I hope there are lots of sales!

    1. If I always listened to my subconscious, I'd have never made it through high school!