I have an idea—a good one, I believe.
Whenever I do a public reading, I finish by signing and dating the typescript and leaving it behind for whoever wants it. I thought I’d invented this practice, but of course there were others before me. Mike Resnick is one and Rob Sawyer another. Rob told me he used to simply discard his typescript. Then, after a reading, he forgot his jacket and, returning for it, discovered two fans, arms deep in the trash basket, fighting over his story. Out of simple respect for his readers, he adopted the more dignified practice.
I think we should make this practice universal. It costs the writer nothing and it makes at least one reader happy.
But there’s a less obvious benefit: It gives people an incentive to attend readings by new and unknown writers. A story autographed this year by Mike or Rob or me is a pleasant thing to possess. But an autographed typescript—particularly one dated before the actual publication—by the next Connie Willis or Jonathan Lethem would be worth serious money to a collector.
Let’s do it. Spread the word. Let every new and gonna-be writer know that this is the new industry standard. With a little luck, we can ensure that all readings are at least adequately attended.
Last week, a fan told me he’d picked up a typescript at one of my readings, and showed me a snapshot of it. He’d framed it and hung it on his wall.
Imagine how good that made me feel.
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