You Ain’t Famous

January 3, 2016

Sweat Shirt

Who was it that said to me, ‘Just because you’ve written a couple of books and got your face in the Newspapers don’t let Fame go to your head.’
As if !

If there is one thing I have learnt over the years that is ‘Life’ has a great way of bringing you back to Earth should you be dumb enough to be swept away in all the praise of the adoring public.

Take Book signings as an example, these are for Real celebrities not for mere Wannabees. If you are somebody special, or better still if the public think you’re somebody special then you’re IN!

The gullible will flock to the event and happily part with their ‘hard earned pennies’ just to be close enough to smell the sloshed on perfume or aftershave, depending on whether it is a footballer or one of their WAG girlfriends flogging their latest ‘Kiss and Tell’ cookery book.

For the rest of us it’s pretty much a day trip to somewhere you’ve never heard of where you will sit on a hard chair behind a wobbly table covered in a pile of books trying to appear interesting to the passing punters desperately trying not to make eye contact with you.

However, for those that really need a lesson in humility please do a book signing in your home town.

Like many writers I write under a pseudonym, now that may sound a bit pretentious coming from someone who is comparatively unknown under either name, real or otherwise. However, I do have a good excuse, someone else is already using my real name, and for all I know he may also be writing under an assumed name…. The fact that it’s my name maybe completely lost on the man however that aside he has made a decent name for himself and his scribbling using my name so I chose another one for me.

But I digress from my tale, being as I live in a quaint rural market town it was suggested that I may wish to join in with the local Christmas Arts and Craft Fair and set up a ‘Meet the Author’ table as a way of maybe shifting some books.

It’s the sort of thing that sounds like a good idea at the time and it’s a decision you usually make when you are a bit too relaxed. Like when in the local pub propositioned by someone else who isn’t quite as relaxed as they seem and… well before you know where you are you’ve agreed to be the Star attraction at the local Meet and Greet!

This one was to be on home ground, I had time to plan and organise, A3 poster sized pictures of the book covers, laptop primed to show YouTube video teasers, (giving them something else to look at other than me).

I even put out a bowl of mixed candy to sweeten the little buggers and charm them into a false sense of security, how could they dare take my offering and not buy my book? Quite easily as it happens, they wait for you to go to the toilet or to fetch a fresh brew of coffee and they sneak in and empty the bowl.
So well organised were we that announcements had been made in the local press, there was even a special insert into the town’s local Free magazine. Come and Meet local author Merlin Fraser, the full drum roll and fanfare had been made, I had never been so organised.

As a small aside I think I should add that around the area where I live we have more than our fair share of celebrities (real ones) artists and a few quite famous authors as well. So you can imagine that for many reading in the local rag that local author Merlin Fraser will be at the next event there may well have been a slight glimmer of interest even if it was only to ask “Who?”

Experience has taught me that at these things you tend to need something to break the ice, this is after all England where nobody actually speaks to anyone without being formally introduced over tea.

Therefore one needs a gimmick, an Ice Breaker….. So I am now the proud owner of the pictured Sweatshirt with the logo : “Who The HELL Is Merlin Fraser”? blazoned across the front.

Yeah, OK I know, it sounded a good idea in the pub, alright ! How is it that when you’re in a pub there is always someone who has a friend who just happens to know someone who can fix you up with these things…. Who knows I might even wear it if things get desperate enough !

Come the day full of confidence, and caffeine I take up station by the table and wait, nobody comes anywhere near me. I head to the coffee pot come back and refill the sweetie bowl. I notice every stall holder in the room, except me, is trying to suck a sweet without moving any part of their mouth.

Then through the front door come three ladies, locals so at least if I can’t sell them a book I can at least have a chat with them, after all I know them and they know me.

Only they don’t… They are here to meet Merlin Fraser, famous writer of Murder Mystery stories and these three are a bit peeved to find that he’s not here and I’m sitting in his chair, presumably and pretentiously swigging his coffee out of his personal mug.
“So where is he ?” One dear old lady asks.

“Who ?” I ask.

“Merlin bloody Fraser, who else ?”
“He’s here…. I am he .”

“He who ?” Her friend asked.

“Me Who… I mean… I am He… I am Merlin Fraser.”

“No you’re not …your that bloke that drives the Dial a Ride Bus!”
“W-e-l- l Yes… but I do this as well.”

“Why,” asked the one in the middle, who up to that point had been silent ?

As this juncture I should have quit, offered them a toffee from my dwindling supply and changed the subject to seasonal things, but we writers are made of sterner stuff. “Why do I write books or why do I drive the bus”?

Little old ladies can be cruel, they turned on me as one, with that look, you know the one, the look that can freeze the blood in your veins. The look that without a spoken word says “listen smart ass” ! They also have that way of sighing and shrugging the shoulders in one move, the one they reserve for the feeble minded who are beyond hope. They declined the proffered sweet and moved away.

Not that the next encounter was any better. A total stranger stood silently in front of my table scanning all the A3 sized book synopsis before picking book three off the table and flicking the pages and asking why all three books had the same title but different covers ?

I explained that Inner Space was the banner heading to link a trilogy of three murder mystery stories with a team of central characters. I then made the mistake of asking him if he like murder mysteries… “Not really” was he reply “we only came in so that my wife could use the toilet”.

I’d like to say things improved over the three days of the Fair, but alas… OK I made a few sales and dished out a lot of Free book markers with the web site and links on it under the promise of they will look and buy later…. I wish I had asked for a small refundable deposit, would have helped pay for my pitch,but Alas!

Little Poster


8 Responses to “You Ain’t Famous”

  1. You are an author and a gentleman. As for those little old ladies…they’re no ladies.

    • merlinfraser Says:

      Thank you Juliette, the ladies in question were all passengers on my bus… In the Dial a Ride office I donated a set of my books, like a mini library, so everybody has read them, without spending a dime !

      I’m now officially a Charity !

      • Jaye Denman Says:

        Perhaps you should apply for a tax-exempt number for your new “charity”, Merlin. Saving money is as good as making it.

        I chuckled my way through your account of a local book-signing, especially the problems caused by using a pseudonym. Okay–I’ve always known you (through HubPages) as Merlin. Does that mean (if you aren’t truly Merlin) that I don’t really know you? Never mind–I’m confusing myself!

        Any luck publishing your children’s books with the dust bunny characters? I think they’re adorable with a lot of potential for a series. Do you have an agent who can pitch them to traditional publishers? Good luck.

        Regards and a “Happy New Year” to you in the Cotswalds . . . WHOMEVER you are!


  2. Oh, Merlin. You know how much I like your blog posts, your literary valuable humor!! To me, you are someone very special – even more since I have read your murder mystery series and found it excellent!! You’re a great writer. And one day, I hope I will ever be able to even organize a book signing!!
    Thanks for an amazing post!! 🙂

  3. merlinfraser Says:

    Hi Jaye, Long time no hear…..!

    Ah my secret is out, I put the glasses on and become meek mild Clark Kent… take them off and become Merlin the magician once more.

    Like so many who know me as Merlin the writer you need to know that I cheat and sometimes I steal ideas from the imagination of my alter ego.

    You ask about the Dust Bunnies, there is now a series of stories, I put a Christmas special on here.

    In spite of all my pushing I have neither an agent nor publisher interested in the little dears. Last rejection comment I had was that my Dust Bunny stories were too old fashioned. I think the actual quote was “These stories are so Alice in Wonderland. Nobody would want to read something so outdated”.

    Good job I have a tough hide, one could so easily get disillusioned about writing.

    What you been up to, I haven’t been on HubPages for years, didn’t like the PC management attitude, and they couldn’t handle my sense of humour.

    PS I moved from the Cotswolds last year, those vicious old ladies drove me away.

    I now reside on an island off the south coast of England, last resting place to the Terminally Bewildered…. Something that was not on the sales brochure when I bought the property !

  4. Ah! Thank you for the reminder that a prophet is never honoured among his own people. I made an early decision never to attend book signings – a decision facilitated by the fact that no-one has ever asked me, and I take the warning concerning local ‘events’ – I recall my younger days in the fashion industry and those shows where the only visitors to my stand were other exhibitors…

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