Good News, Bad News at the Mechanic's Institute Library in San Francisco

POSTED ON Apr 14, 2011

Joel Friedlander

Written by Joel Friedlander

Home > Blog > Self-Publishing > Good News, Bad News at the Mechanic's Institute Library in San Francisco

Good news: I was invited to speak to a group of people involved with self-publishing that meets at the Mechanic’s Institute Library on Post Street in downtown San Francisco. I was happy to accept and took the opportunity to meet up with my friend Paula Hendricks, who had made the introductions.

Bad news: Somehow my schedule went sideways during the day and I ended up very late to arrive. This bothers me because I don’t like it when other people are late, so I try to be on time.

Good news: The Mechanic’s Institute Library (crisply classical architecture by Albert Pissis) is located in the Institute’s historic building. High ceilings, wood-frame doors with shining brass hardware and glass panels make you feel like you’re in a landmark from another era.

Bad news: I got busted at the doorway to the library. This is strictly members-only and I must have looked guilty because the Librarian pounced on me, instantly recognizing an alien presence. Paula, waving the membership card she had swiped to gain entry to the locked main library room, came and saved me.

Good news: We got to set up for the presentation in a private reading room off the main floor of the library. Dark wood everywhere and heavy wooden tables. People drifted in, and we pulled the screen down for the slide show.

Bad news: The projector and laptop promised by the group hasn’t arrived. Leaning over to allow someone to squeeze by in the tight space, a metal rod protruding from the bottom of the projector screen slashes my forehead. I’m now standing in front of my audience with blood gushing from my forehead.

Good news: The beautiful Men’s room is right down the hall, complete with gleaming white tile and more brass, which I barely notice trying to stem the flow. It works, and I’m soon back, ready to start the show.

Bad news: It’s fifteen minutes late now, and we find out the laptop, projector and technician will not be showing up. Surprise! I’m now giving a presentation on book design, interiors and exteriors, without the 45-slide show with all the examples of same.

Good news: The group of people gathered for the presentation are a wonderful crowd. I’m told that each is seriously involved in a book project of his or her own. Some are multi-published authors and entrepreneurs. One man walked the line between sci fi and fantasy. An astute crowd.

Bad news: Due to selling out my book at the last BAIPA meeting, I have no books to sell at the end of my talk. This is like the number one sin of self-publishing: never go to a talk without any books. Instead, I get the last ARCs together and take them.

Good news: The presentation goes amazingly well. Without visuals, I’m forced to step up my presentation skills, to make an essentially visual discussion palpable just through words and our shared memories. Also, I used my own book as a sample.

Bad news: Although I had 4 books, I only sold 2. I’m not complaining. I was quite clear about the fact they were ARCs and we even had a mini-lesson on why they don’t have bar codes. But they are collectible, you know. I guess I should save these for posterity.

Good news: Great questions and a group of people that somehow allowed me to connect to my own passion for publishing. I was thrilled that these writers took the publishing process seriously.

It’s not that easy to publish a book, but people who persevere will add to the richness of the accumulated life and wisdom of the world, and I met some of those people tonight.

Photo by gruntzooki

Joel Friedlander

Written by
Joel Friedlander

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