During the run of my American Chronicles Series, Bantam arranged a national book-signing and publicity tour. Although this may sound exciting, it is anything but. You have to always consider Murphy’s Law. If there is anything that can possibly go wrong . . . it will.
On a radio show on KMOX in St. Louis, I announced that I would be signing books at B. Dalton in Mid Rivers Mall. When we got there….there were already dozens of people waiting in line . . . and the manager and the sales people were scrambling to get things ready.
“We’ve only got six of your books,” the manager said. “We’re trying to round up more.”
“You’ve only got six books?”
“We didn’t know you were coming today.”
“How can you not have known about it? This has been set up for at least two weeks.”
“I’m sorry, Mr. Vaughan, we just weren’t told.”
“It hardly seems worth the trip for just six books,” I said, clearly agitated.
As that conversation was going on, Sara walked down to the other end of the mall . . .where a HUGE sign was spread across the front of Waldebooks. MEET AUTHOR ROBERT VAUGHAN TODAY! When I walked down to check, I saw a floor dump of my books, a nearby table, pens, a coffee cup, and a comfortable chair.
“Is Robert Vaughan supposed to be here today?” I asked.
“Yes, we’re waiting on him now. He should be here by ten.”
Okay, that was my fault, I said the wrong bookstore when I was on the radio program. I hurried back down to B. Dalton, signed six books to the first six people in line, then accepted the apology from the store manager for not being better prepared.
“It isn’t your fault, don’t worry about it,” I said, graciously.
“I must say, you’re taking it very well.”
“It’s all part of the business,” I said, showing him how obliging I could be.
By the time I reached Waldenbooks, word had already spread through the mall, so most of those who didn’t get a book at B. Dalton showed up there.
“It was a mix-up between my publisher and the bookstores,” I explained. “It happens. I’m not blaming anyone.”
At a hotel, once, I found a beautiful, and very well-filled basket. The basket had chocolate, several kinds of nuts, fruit, crackers and a tin of smoked sardines, and a bottle of wine. I enjoyed it all, and when I was speaking to my publicist, I asked her to thank Bantam for supplying the wonderful basket.
“Uh, we’re paying for the room, I don’t know anything about a basket. Let me check.” A moment later she came back. “There is no basket.”
“What do you mean? I’m eating from it now.”
“You’d better check with the hotel.”
I did check with the hotel. The basket wasn’t a gratuity . . . it was offered by the hotel, for fifty dollars.
At a TV station in Wichita, I was waiting in the green room, enjoying donuts and coffee, when a young intern approached me.
“I’m getting the Chyron ready, so I need to check on the spelling of your name.”
“It’s Vaughan…don’t forget the last “a” in Vaughan.” I flashed a winning smile. “Vaughans, with an “a” are the aristocratic side of the name.”
The joke didn’t register, as she very carefully spelled my name on a card.
“And why are you here, Mr. Vaughan?”
“Why am I here? I’m going to be interviewed in a few minutes.”
“Yes, but what is your title? What do I put under your name?”
“I’m a fandango dancer.” I laughed as she walked away. “What a doofus question that was,” I said to Sara. “What does she put under my name.”
“That was rather rude of you,” Sara said. “She was just doing her job.”
“Look, I’ve worked in TV, these shows are all planned in advance. She knows damn well I’m an author. If she doesn’t, she should. She’ll figure it out soon enough.”
A few minutes later I was on the set being interviewed by some woman who…during the break, asked me what my book was about. I had just over a minute to tell her about it.
The floor director counted down, then pointed, and the red camera light came on.
“My guest today is Robert Vaughan, author of THE LOST GENERATION. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was a wonderful read. Mr. Vaughan, where did you get the idea for this book?”
“My wife teaches school, I used to give history talks to her class, and that gave me the idea of writing books about the different decades of the 20th Century. This is about the 1920’s, I intend to do one for each decade in the 20th Century.”
“And will you do books about the other decades of the 20th Century?”
Whatever the next question was completely escaped me because at that moment I saw myself on the monitor. Below my picture was the Chyron: ROBERT VAUGHAN – FANDANGO DANCER
Okay, I’ll admit, it may be possible that some of these little mishaps just might be my fault.
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