Yes, I pretty much did my own stunts for this book cover

image As with firefighting, when it came to creating my book cover, I insisted on doing my own stunts. In this case, it meant gripping the top of a race car speeding in excess of 120 mph while simultaneously — and this was the tricky part — not messing up my hair. Oh, and I also had to hold up a cardboard sign with my free hand. We considered the idea of holding the sign between my teeth, but that idea was scrapped on the first attempt after driving through a cloud of mosquitos…

OK, fine. None of that really happened. But I would almost rather risk my life on the hood of a speeding car with a mouth full of mosquitos than promote my book, which I’ll be doing for the first time this weekend at a local book festival. It’s not that I’m one of those authors who likes to write about — but who doesn’t like being around — actual people. In fact, I am very much a people person. Not in a Hannibal Lector kind of way, but because I truly enjoy talking with and meeting new people. My anxiety over attending the book festival also has nothing to do with any fear of talking in front of large crowd, or in my case, a handful of strangers looking for the restroom as I read excerpts from my book. The truth is, I volunteer as a host for several community fundraising events each year, so being in front of a crowd — or even several confused strangers — isn’t the issue.

So what is?

I have never gotten comfortable with promoting myself. Several years ago, after my divorce, I tried my hand in the sales department here at Siuslaw News in an effort to make some extra money. Most of my sales visits went something like this:

Me: Hi Bill!
Bill: Hey Ned!
Me: You’re probably short on cash and, given the state of today’s economy, don’t have any money to spend on advertising, so I’ll just show myself out.

What makes this weekend’s book festival situation particularly tough is that my book won’t be released until December. That’s right. As if I didn’t already have enough anxiety about promoting myself, I’ll have the added pleasure of doing so while sitting at a table without any ACTUAL BOOKS to show — or hide behind. My publisher assures me it doesn’t matter, and that there will be a big poster, bookmarks and fliers to hand out at my table and after my reading.

“These are going to be your readers,” my publisher insists. “They just want to meet you, find out when the book will be available, hear some excerpts and maybe pre-order copies. Don’t worry! It’ll be fun!”

And I’m sure it will be. Especially if I can talk her into letting me arrive on the hood of a speeding race car, with a few mosquitos in my teeth. Hey, it could be a nice icebreaker.

If you happen to be on the Central Oregon coast this Saturday, stop in at the Florence Festival of Books. Please.

I promise I won’t try to sell you anything.

Published by

Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

80 thoughts on “Yes, I pretty much did my own stunts for this book cover”

  1. I’d be there if I could, honest! If only to meet the man who would post a sentence like “I insisted on dong my own stunts.” I’m still trying to decide if this was a typo, or some sort of subliminal advertising. Are you selling anything other than books????

    Seriously, I wish you all the luck in the world. I actually thought about you the other day when I visited my mother at the home, and three nurses came running into her room with my business card, asking for my autograph. I thought to myself, “I’ll bet that darn Ned Hickson never has to sign business cards for three people in a nursing home! I’ll bet HE will be hitting the talk show circuit with his book, and passing out copies to everyone in the television audience!” And I hope that’s exactly what happens! Fame, Ned. Get used to it!

    I will be buying your book as soon as it’s available!

    1. Hahahahaha! Great, one MORE reason for me to be nervous about measuring up! I’ve gotten a lot of responses to this post; that explains it! LOL!

      You should be flattered to have people ask to sign your cards. The last time I signed an autograph was when I got pulled over for a busted tail light.

      Thanks for the kind words and support, Marcia. It’s much appreciated — and so are you 😉

      1. Ditto, my friend. Anyone who brings laughter into this world today is a special treasure! And I WAS flattered, believe me. You will be, too, when you meet your adoring public. I’ll be thinking about you.

        (PS…nice revision!)

  2. It’s your natural inclination to be wary of self-promotion because you’re not an asshole. So you just say to yourself, “I’m not an asshole, I just feel like one,” and soon you get over it and it’s actually quite fun. People really just want to tell you they love you and enjoy reading your pieces, and that feels pretty good. Sure, you’ll get the odd crackpot who’ll want to tell you about the novel series he’s writing about time-travelling Marilyn Monroe who assassinates Hitler and in doing so changes the course of history, somehow leading to an alternate-universe apocalypse, so she has to go back in time again, etc., but other than that, have a blast! (True story, by the way — the crackpot, not the time-travelling Marilyn.)

    1. Thanks Ross. I really appreciate your insights. I have been living vicariously through your own book promotion stories. I tried to talk with you about it at one of your signings, and tell you about my time-traveling book idea, but…

            1. Don’t worries, Ross! I know EXACTLY how you feel. Busy, busy busy! Next Wednesday, for example, I’ll be at Dalton’s Books on my lunch break sticking fliers into books between noon and 1 p.m., or until I get kicked out.

  3. Pretty exciting times huh? If lived anywhere close by, I would be the first in line asking for your autograph. I will even bring books written by other people and have you sign them. 😉 All the best Ned! 🙂

  4. Your newspaper sales conversation sounds like the conversation I have in my head whenever I want to tell someone about my books. If you figure out a solution, I’d love to hear it.

    Now, as your unofficial, unlicensed blog psychologist, I’d like to confirm your overwhelming anxiety. You said in the last sentence that “If you happen to be on the Central Oregon coast this Saturday, stop it at…”

    Stop it instead of stop in. I can only assume the stop it refers to your book fair appearance. Your unconscious mind is pleading for help from your blog audience. It’s okay, this is normal. Most of us have unconscious minds constantly screaming “stop this speeding race care, I want to get off the hood and brush my teeth!” Seriously, which might be something that can help you relax. That or narcotics, but get a prescription first.

    The important thing is that you are not alone in this irrational fear. How that helps, I’ll never know.

    I won’t be in Oregon over the weekend, but put me down for a pre-order. Probably just write it down on a sticky note somewhere.

    1. Paul, you can scratch the “un” from your title as my blog psychologist. Between using “it” instead of “in,” and the word “dong” instead of “doing” in the first paragraph (which I have since corrected — thanks, Marcia!), I obviously have some issues to deal with.

      And it has nothing to do with the fact that all but one person overlooked my “dong”; I’m familiar with that reaction.

      I’m just glad you’re not the one who noticed…

      1. Believe me, Ned, so am I. So am I.

        Still looking forward to your book!

        So can I make a little badge to put on my blog that says “official unlicensed psychologist for Ned’s Blog”?

          1. Smashing! That’s what will happen when the APA finds out, they’ll smash my blog, whatever that means. I’m pleased to take your blog on as a client, and I will certainly maintain confidentiality by only referring to you as N. Hickson or Ned H., and sometimes both in the same sentence, just to really keep people confused.

              1. I wouldn’t recommend it, unless you don’t want to sell any copies of your upcoming book. I think Miley Cyrus is one horse you don’t want to hitch your wagon to currently.

  5. You promise you won’t try and sell us anything?

    Hmm, not entirely sure that’s how it should go, old bean, but good luck anyway. Sorry I can’t make it I’m ill that day.

    (Plus it’s too far from the UK and someone needs to be here to feed the cat.)

  6. I am so happy for you Nedster, and feel privileged to know you. I haven’t seen the ad in the SNEWS, where is this book signing being held? what time? I have some expired eggs I need to get rid of……you know I love ya more n my luggage.

    1. Bring. It. ON, Annette!!

      Not the eggs, the luggage; I may need a quick getaway…

      The Book Fair is at the Florence Events Center from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. I’m reading at 3 p.m. I can see how you might’ve missed the add…

      …It’s only a 12-page special insert..

      You know I love you too, especially on payday 😉

  7. i suspect people will be lining up to help with your success, ned – you’re just that kind of guy! don’t waste a minute on worry and definitely bring “free crap” as momtimes4 suggested.

    1. Thank you for the kind words 🙂

      I’m definitely taking momtimes4’s suggestion by cleaning out my kids’ rooms and giving it all away. It has nothing to do with the book, but at least everyone will be happy.

      Except my kids.

  8. That’s exciting, Ned! I haven’t been back to Oregon in years, but really want to make a trip back. I’m guessing the festival will have ended by then, though.

    1. Hey, I’m only supposed to read for 15 minutes or so, but I’ll just keep going until you get here. I can see the headline line: Local author arrested for Book Fair Filibuster…

  9. Ahhh maaaann… Why did you have to say you didn’t really do your own stunt? I was TOTALLY believing it…
    On a more serious note, big congrats and good luck! Pitty I’m shhhoooo far away! 😦

    1. Sorry to spoil the illusion 😦 But if it’s worth anything, that IS my real hair.

      Thanks for the good wishes, Cristina. If the festival gets moved to Sweden between now and Saturday, I’ll expect to see you there!

      1. No, no! Make it in UK, I’m here for the next 4 months(by the way your link to the book festival doesn’t work).
        So, we’re set for UK, yeah? You can make it happen!!! 🙂

        1. WHAT? I just got the venue switched to Sweden! I don’t know if I can change it to the UK now on such short notice…

          And thanks for the heads-up on the link. Nothing worse than an unresponsive link.

    1. I’m pretty good at “walking against the wind” and “trapped in a glass box,” so signing invisible books shouldn’t be a problem. It’s my handwriting I’m worried about…

  10. I wish I could be there Saturday!!! What an exciting day that will be 🙂 May I suggest a couple of bottles of water?? What little excerpt will you be reading? Will you be doing an animated reading? So many questions! Haha, I wish you nothing but the best my friend, the most well deserved wishes for such an amazingly wonderful writer! 🙂
    Can I have a book autographed? 🙂

    1. I will be located next to a water cooler; good for the throat and enticing people to my table!

      I still haven’t decided what passages I’m going to read. I’ll figure that out tomorrow sometime. And as for it being animated, I can’t talk without moving my hands and making sound effects (not those kinds…usually), so yes — definitely animated!

      And an autographed book goes without saying 😉

      As always, thank you for the kind words and wishes.

  11. egads! I don’t envy you this one. Perhaps your best bet is to go in with a sense of humor and maybe some props to put on some kind of show …oh! you should bring in a version of The Door! Start going off on different topics. lol ok or not.

  12. Self-promotion. Have fun!
    Or, you could send me a free copy of your book and I will write up a lovely but honest review and help plug it for you 😉
    Shameless begging – because I can!

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