This week at the SFF Seven, we’re posing the question: How do you answer when people at parties ask “have I heard of you?”
I confess that I posed this question of the group, since I get this question frequently and I’m usually at a loss as to how to answer. So for a while there I was going around asking other authors how they handle this.
My friend, Jim Sorenson, master of the witty comeback, suggested Sam Malone’s line from Cheers, “Not many people know this, but I’m kind of a big deal.” I couldn’t find a gif of that one though. The line is a good litmus test for how much someone is paying attention.
But in actuality, I’ve ended up going with a tiered response, much like KAK suggested yesterday, only a bit less… snarky. Most of the time, I’ve found, people are asking the question as a rote response to discovering the person they’re talking to just might be famous in some way. Where writers are concerned, the answer is almost always “no.”
I have, however, found another litmus test response. I return the question by asking if they’re a reader. This small-talk gambit works for a multitude of scenarios. Most of the time, the person is NOT a reader, and asking this question will elicit a – sometimes long – explanation of why they don’t read. It works really well for the principle that the easiest way to engage someone in conversation is to ask about themselves. People who don’t read will often talk about the last book they DID read, or how they hated being forced to read in school, or how busy their lives are. This gives rich fodder for letting them talk about their lives. If they’re not actually interested in the fact that I’m a writer, this lets them gracefully never return to the topic and saves me the painful sorting of the fact that, no, they haven’t heard of me.
If they ARE a reader, well! Now the conversation gets interesting. I can what genres they read and we talk books. We drill down pretty quickly to whether they read my genre and, if they haven’t read my books, they usually end up by whipping out their phone and buying one. Happy outcome!
Speaking of buying books, I’m happy to report that I’ve finished the draft of my novella for the upcoming FIRE OF THE FROST anthology! I still need to settle on a title, but it takes place at Convocation Academy in my Bonds of Magic world, taking place at roughly the same time as DARK WIZARD. You can preorder the anthology now to have it slip into your eReader in December! (Print will be available, but you can only preorder through my website right now. Print will be available via the usual retailers on release day, just not for preorder.)