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Thursday, April 25, 2002

Mr. Gaiman, Although a festive "Publication Day Signing" sounds fun, particularly the bit about the singing rats, I confess I am much more interested in seeing you read/perform "Coraline" live than in standing in line all afternoon to collect a signature. You had mentioned wanting to do a reading tour. If this is a possibility would you please keep myself (and others) posted? Thank you much for your time, have a lovely day. -Kathryn

Well, it's not the kind of thing that, as a suggestion from an author, seems to have set the publishing world alight.

I will be reading the whole of Coraline over two evenings at the Chicago Humanities Festival toward the very end of October.

From my point of view, I would love to make the West Coast Event a reading of the whole of Coraline, somewhere comfy with nice acoustics, like the Palace of Fine Arts in SF (and I'd presign enough books that the bookstore sponsoring it could sell enough books to pay for the event). I suspect that from a publisher's point of view, this is a strange and peculiar and untried thing nobody's done before -- and how can they think an audience would want to sit still for 3 hours...? (Which seems to me much more fun than standing in a line for 6 hours.)

....

Tuesday is the official publication date of American Gods in paperback in the US. It's nominated for a Hugo Award for best novel, a Bram Stoker Award for best novel and the author has already received a gold star for spelling, so you must go out and buy copies for everyone you know, or else, er, something terrible will happen. Many many famous dead people, including Napoleon, Shakespeare, Socrates and Thomas Jefferson did not read American Gods and are now dead. Don't let this happen to you or your friends.

Also the dump bin with the books in it lights up.

There. I should have been in book advertising.

....

Reading aloud is always fun. Like Shakespeare I have little Latin and less Greek (not the fault of various schoolmasters, who tried hard, more the fault of changing schools age 13 from one way of teaching classical Latin and Greek to a completely different one, which left my head spinning), but when, last night, I got to the bit in the last chapter of Diana Wynne Jones's The Ogre Downstairs, when the Hell's Angels grown from Dragon's teeth start speaking in Greek, I remembered all I could and started sounding the words in Greek letters out to Maddy. Only to discover, to my amusement if not hers, that the Hell's Angels were speaking English, and colloquial English at that.

Probably an Edward Eager next.

...

Seeing as you'll be on tour for Coraline before long, what is the process for convincing my local bookstore to convince you/your agent/whoever to book a signing or some such thing there? We're in western North Carolina (Asheville), where I know you have many fans, but I've never heard of you having visited here yet. Please come. It's lovely here.

I don't know what the procedure is for convincing a bookstore, other than finding the person who works there and organises signings and to say to them "What about Neil Gaiman, to come here and do a signing? No... Neil Gaiman, not Neil Diamond. He's an author. No, I know Neil Diamond is a songwriter, not an author, we're not talking about Neil Diamond. Neil Gaiman. It's pronounced quite differently. He's a famous author who has a lot of fans in this area. Well, obviously, if you haven't heard of him he can't be that famous. But he does have a lot of fans and we'd love to have him come and do a signing..."

What they then do is go and talk to the publisher. Coming to me rarely does any good, as I simply point the store back to the publisher. And then the publisher weighs lots of arcane lore like where I signed before and how many of what chain versus how many independents and who reports their sales to where and whether they'd physically have room for the people in the line, all that, and slowly it puts a list together of shops in which I ought to appear the next time I go on the road.

Then several months later the person who organises signings at your bookstore stops you in the aisle and asks pointedly where you were at the Neil Sedaka signing they put on last week.

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