Recently in our writing group we were talking about the satirical (yet oh-so-true) piece in The Onion about tiny audiences for readings.
It came out that this actually happened not a few days ago to a friend of ours. This friend, confronted with just one audience member, handled it bravely and with poise. I don't think I would have handled it nearly as well.
Then, as it turned out, today was Mortification Monday over at Shannon Hale's blog. No attendees at readings, introduced by the wrong name, strangers accusing her of stealing their ideas--all of this and more has happened. REALLY. And not just to Shannon Hale, of course, but to authors at large.
Thanks, I suppose, to misery loving company, I feel marginally better about my minor embarrassments: a YA book launch with no actual teenagers in attendance. (Sigh.) A school visit at which 75% of my audience were confused ESL students, and the only ones asking questions (except for one student) were the teachers and librarians. Profuse nervous sweating that was probably noticeable enough to see from space.
I have no doubt I'll have similar reports in the future, or worse. It's the life of a writer--the not-very-glamorous part. And if you're an introvert like me, sometimes you do sweat the small stuff (uh, no pun intended), regardless of the cliché advice not to.
If the prospect is getting you down, check out the Shrinking Violets' interview with Nancy Ancowitz (and basically anything on the Shrinking Violets' blog), and Nancy's website, Self-Promotion for Introverts. And remember that you're not alone! You aren't. In fact, if you have any embarrassing or just frustrating reading-related incidents haunting you, feel free to get them off your chest in the comments. We're here to listen. :)
Thanks go to Tanita for most of these links.