Observations from My Book Launch

Observation 1: I really love public speaking. I had a great time speaking at my book launch party on Sunday, and at a local Episcopal church earlier the same day. And apparently I’m pretty good at it. People laughed at my jokes! My sister said I remind her of Kelly Corrigan, which might be the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me, especially because I have a huge writer’s crush on Kelly Corrigan (and Catherine Newman and Anne Lamott too…any time someone would like to compare me to one of them, you are welcome to do so).

Observation 2: A book launch is not unlike a wedding. That is, I talked a little bit to lots of people, but didn’t really catch up with anyone to the extent I would have liked to. And despite the presence of much excellent food, I ate very little. I did cart a cup of Diet Coke around with me for the entire event, though, because all the talking was making me hoarse. Then later a friend remarked that I did really well up at the lectern during my talk…Was that by any chance wine I was sipping? I’m trying to figure out whether the fact that she thought I was tipsy is a credit to my sparkling wit or a sign that I wasn’t making a whole lot of sense.

Observation 3: I need a lesson on book-signing etiquette. I found myself stumped about how to sign certain people’s books, especially people I know fairly well. Just my first name or my full name? And do I attach a closing salutation like “Love” or “Sincerely” before signing my name? Then there was the friend who asked that I not personalize it at all, because she has heard that signed books are much more valuable without a personalized inscription. As a result of my confusion, some friends got my whole name and some got “Love, Ellen.” I hope they don’t decide to compare their inscriptions because it could lead to all sorts of soul searching: “Why did Ellen say ‘love’ on yours and not on mine?”

Observation 4: Different audiences ask very different questions. I gave basically the same spiel to both my morning church audience and my afternoon book-launch audience. But the questions after were completely different. The church crowd asked lots of deep theological and ethical questions about reproductive technology. The book-launch crowd asked lots of questions about me. I guess that makes sense, given that most of the party attendees were my friends and family. It’s just interesting how differently two audiences can react to the same information. And it’s part of what makes me really like the public speaking part of this work. Always something new!

My favorite question of the day came from my friend Ronan, who asked whether, now that I’m a successful author with a book and a growing writing career, he will still run into me at Stop and Shop all the time?

Yes, Ronan, yes you will.

Gratuitous photo of me with adorable child #3.
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