Andy Warhol said, “In the future everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” Turns out he was almost right. About me, at least. I am kind of famous. Not world famous. More like poor-rating cable TV talk show famous. And it wasn’t quite 15 minutes. More like three. But, hey, at least he was in the general ballpark.
My story starts about three years ago when I got a Kindle for Christmas. I discovered an author named Amanda Hocking who wrote YA Paranormal Romance novels. I bought one book, read it, and then bought six more! I really liked her stuff. In the course of buying her books, I came to find out that she was a self-published author who was actually having some measure of success with online publishing after having been rejected thousands (!) of times from traditional publishing companies. Her story was inspiring. I kept tabs on her career and her increasing success, and decided I needed to take my own writing much more seriously.
Fast forward about a year. As a Facebook follower of Amanda’s, I saw that she A.) now had a traditional publisher and B.) was going to be on Anderson Cooper’s (then) daytime talk show. And that the show was looking for fans from the tri-state area to be in the audience. Despite the fact that I never, EVER do stuff like this, for some reason this time I went to the link and filled out a request for tickets. As part of the ticket request, the form asked “how were you influenced by Amanda?” So I wrote a little blurb about how I was inspired by her self-publishing success.
A few weeks later I got a call from the show asking if I’d like to be in the audience. YES. But then I kept getting phone calls asking me more questions – what was my story? How exactly had Amanda influenced me? What was I doing now? After having a couple of conversations, sending in an e-mail AND a picture (because, apparently, they have to weed out the hideously ugly people unless they are doing a show on hideously ugly people), I was asked not only to be in the audience but to be a “special surprise ‘super fan’ guest” for Amanda Hocking.
Being the publicity whore that I am, of course I said yes.
So I travelled into Manhattan, was escorted up into the studio where Anderson (he and I are on a first name basis now) recorded his show, and was given the whole Hollywood diva treatment. I waited in the “green room” (it really is green). I had my hair and makeup done (pounds of makeup, actually, especially under eye concealer). And I did the requisite producer run-through. This is the part where the producer tries to prepare you for the questions, gets a sense of your answers, and then tries to get you to say what he wants.
Tye, the producer: What does trying to get published feel like?
Me: Like an insurmountable hurdle.
Tye, the producer: How about if you say, “It’s like climbing a mountain!”
Tye, the producer: Like climbing a mountain! Try it. Like climbing a mountain!
Me: Um, no.
In addition to whittling down my ten-minute monologue into a few coherent sound bites, there was some stage direction, such as: “Listen, Amanda is great. But she’s VERY mid-western, you know? Kind of laid back and low key, so you need to bring ALL the energy to this. ALL THE ENERGY! Be yourself, but be PASSIONATE! Be ENTHUSIASTIC! Be ENERGETIC! But be yourself.”
I’m sure by now, if you’ve read any of my stuff, you can tell I’m the diametric opposite of bubbly and effervescent. I’m droll. I’m sarcastic. I have just enough energy that you know I’m alive. But, I am also, as previously stated, a publicity whore, and therefore agreed to be as energetic and passionate and enthusiastic as Tye wanted.
And there was this piece of additional direction: “When you get up onstage HUG Amanda. Even if she doesn’t get up, YOU PULL HER UP! Make sure you HUG her! You HAVE TO hug her!”
I’m going to guess that you guys can already tell I’m a not hugger. Especially of strangers. But…publicity whore. I even practiced by hugging Tye. (Seriously, we practiced the hugs.)
When I wasn’t being prepped, I got to listen to the other guest of the show being prepared by his producer. His story? He was a virgin who donated his sperm via the Internet. Funny thing, he also “documented” his process of being “donorsexual” (his term, not mine) which means he filmed himself making his donations and put it online. And, yes, people purchased from his online catalogue of baby makers. But then there was a whole “cease manufacture” order from the FDA or face a $100k fine…now that I think about it his story was really much more interesting than mine. It’s a wonder I remembered anything Tye told me.
Soon it was go time. Sperm donor guy went first, so I stayed backstage until it was time for me to “get planted” (perhaps not the best choice of words, given the sperm donor story line, but I digress) in the audience. Then they brought Amanda out. After a little chitchat and Q&A between Anderson and Amanda, this SURPRISE, SUPER FAN, ASPIRING WRITER was brought up. Poor Amanda Hocking. This was the last thing she was expecting, and the look on her face made me believe that in the past she probably had to deal with some overzealous fan (i.e. stalker) and was hoping that I would not follow her back to her hotel. (I didn’t. She ditched me on the way out of the building.)
As directed, I went up, shook Anderson’s hand, and then I did it. I HUGGED Amanda Hocking. I HUGGED her good and I HUGGED her hard. (She may have actually gasped a little.) This poor woman (who, again, I’m guessing has a stalker) had no idea who I was, and would have gladly shaken my hand, yet she was forced into being molested on camera by me, a total stranger. But, Amanda Hocking, being the professional that she is, was very nice and totally cool, in spite of not expecting my hug, my effusive, bubbly thanks, or me.
Here’s where things get really interesting. In the true spirit of daytime TV talk shows, turns out they had a surprise for me, too. Amanda’s editor offered to read my manuscript! I know, I know. It’s like a fairy tale, right? One problem. I only had about half of a first draft of a first manuscript written. No writer wants ANYONE to read that. Especially not a professional editor. But, being the publicity whore that I am, I accepted their gift graciously and then I internally vowed to get my ass in gear.
Don’t believe me? See it all for yourself:
This confluence of events that could only be described as serendipitous was exactly the kick in the pants that I needed to help me finish my manuscript. Which took about another year, and by that time it was a whole different book than the first one I started writing. (I know, this whole story is full of twists and turns, isn’t it?) But, the point is, I finished it! And I sent it in to Amanda’s editor, who despite the long time frame, still remembered me and still read it! And…she’s decided not to publish it. Okay, so it’s not the fairy tale ending you (or, let’s face it, I) were hoping for, however she did give me some great feedback and here I am today. Following in the footsteps of my mentor…Amanda Hocking…who truly has no idea how much of an inspiration she has been to this crazy “super fan.” Thank you Amanda Hocking! If ever see you again, I promise I won’t hug you. Unless you want me to.