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Chelsea Banning, the author of a book about the fictional children of King Arthur, was very excited for her first book signing in Ashtabula, Ohio. Thirty-seven people said they planned to attend. Two showed up.
Banning voiced her frustration on social media. “Only 2 people came to my author signing yesterday, so I was pretty bummed about it. Especially as 37 people responded ‘going’ to the event,” she wrote on Twitter on Dec. 4. “Kind of upset, honestly, and a little embarrassed.”
Much to Banning’s surprise, a lot of authors shared similar stories. Some worse.
And, not just any authors, world-famous and best-selling authors, like Stephen King and Margaret Atwood, author of “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
“Join the club,” Atwood posted. “I did a signing to which Nobody came, except a guy who wanted to buy some Scotch tape and thought I was the help.”
“At my first SALEM’S LOT signing, I had one customer. A fat kid who said, ‘Hey bud, do you know where there’s some Nazi books?’” King tweeted.
His post prompted this response from Banning: “Omg! [By the way] my husband freaked out more than me that Stephen King replied. Huge fan! Thank you for your stories, sir!”
Which led to this response from a user who goes by BC: “This continues to amaze. It’s threads like this that rejuvenate the human spirit.”
We don’t want to be overly dramatic, we’ll leave that to the fiction writers, but we tend to agree with BC.
The response to Banning’s post does rejuvenate the human spirit. It also reminds that despite its many problematic aspects, Twitter can be a great medium for uplifting people, and for promoting new authors and artists.
Banning’s original post was shared more than 7,000 times and had more than 77,000 likes on Twitter, the Washington Post reported in early December. The week of her post, Banning’s debut novel, “Of Crowns and Legends,” rose to the No. 1 bestseller in Amazon’s “Dragons & Mythical Creatures Fantasy” category.
It also reminds us that famous people can be just like us. They weren’t always famous, of course. And, it turns out, even when they were, they had moments of rejection and doubt.
Author Min Jin Lee, who wrote “Pachinko,” which has been turned into a TV series, tweeted that she had once attended a book reading where only “my husband’s cousin showed up.”
“You know, a lot of people think of writers and authors and imagine the glitz and glamor of events,” Lee told The Washington Post. “Actually, however, there’s a lot of getting served humble pie.”
“But,” Lee added, “what’s important to keep in mind is that someone cared enough to show up and read what you had to say.”
It’s also heartening that so many fellow authors cared enough to show up and let Banning, a librarian who worked on the book for 15 years, know that she was doing just fine, even if only two people showed up to her first book reading.
Consider our spirit rejuvenated.