As an author, self-promotion naturally becomes a big part of your life. Of course, I'm referring to classy self-promotion versus the chicken suit variety where you weave your way through traffic wearing a placard that says: Read Holly Kennedy. Fall into a good story!
What we do for a living isn't of the 9 to 5 variety and at any time you may run across a situation you'd be a fool not to capitalize on. (If you haven't already, read my Wal-Mart post from June '07 as a solid example of this: http://author-in-the-trenches.blogspot.com/search?q=wal-mart. By the way, for some reason when you click on the above link, blogger shows the Wal-Mart post below this one. Who knows why.)
Self-promotion aside, though, I also enjoy my privacy and for the most part I like to remain as anonymous as possible, especially when I'm having a bad hair day, or my eyes are bloodshot the way they were yesterday (sick dog the night before/long story).
That said, last night I was late as I rushed into the city for my son's basketball practice and sat next to another mom (someone I've met once, but otherwise don't know.) Within minutes, we found ourselves discussing books the way men might discuss football. We talked about titles we loved, compared authors we admired, etc., and when she told me she was an avid reader, I grabbed my bag, yanked out two autographed copies of The Tin Box and The Penny Tree, and gave them to her.
(No, I don't carry books everywhere I go. That I had them with me was purely coincidence. I was supposed to deliver them to a book club in the city, but couldn't find the address -- I'm very address challenged -- so had decided to do it later.)
Anyhow... the woman was thrilled (it's always fun seeing someone's face light up like that) and then as she examined the hard cover of The Tin Box, her face fell and her eyes slowly went wide. Growing increasingly excited, she explained that a friend had given her a paperback of this very book weeks ago, that it was one of her friend's all-time favorite books, and she had told her it would make her cry.
At that point, my face lit up. I mean, what are the chances that you'll go to your kid's basketball practice, sit next to a stranger, discuss novels, and get told that someone in a city of a million loved your debut novel?