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Friday, October 10, 2014


More from Lincoln Paine, recently returned from his book tour for The Sea & Civilization

There must have been glitches!  Are you willing to tell us about them?

I think this is the part of the interview where I get to gripe, and I have a few complaints that most authors will share and of which all prospective hosts should be mindful.

You mean the people who invited you to talk?  What did you expect, and how did they let you down? 

Foremost, if you are going to invite someone to speak at your institution or organization, you should have something to say about them before they show up. This is almost always provided by the publisher or author, and if you’ve misplaced the email it came in, you can always go to their website or read the flap copy of their book. Not doing so is incredibly insulting to the author or whomever it is you’re hosting. This happens more often than I can believe.

 Most venues have no institutional or logistical impediments to having books available for signing. Authors go on book tours to promote their books, and not making them available for sale defeats the purpose of the tour.

 Also, while no author is in it for the swag, which can sometimes be difficult to deal with—one club gave me two enormous monogrammed wineglasses, which they offered to send to me—the gesture of an offering is appreciated, even if it’s just a certificate or letter or acknowledgement, and especially when it’s in lieu of having books available, honoraria, or paying for travel or accommodations. Yes, authors benefit from publicizing their own work, but it’s not as though all the work was done before the book came out. Preparing for a talk and getting to the event are time-consuming and costly.

 And we also know we’re there to educate your students or entertain your membership and guests and that if we didn’t show up you would have to work to find someone else. So hosts should try to be as accommodating as possible.

Hear, hear to that!  I remember the venue where accommodation was at the home of one of the members of the board ... who somehow forgot to inform his wife!

Thank you, Lincoln.  More revelations to come. Meantime, enjoy this lovely illustration from his book.

“A Chinese postage stamp commemorating the six hundredth anniversary of the first of seven Ming Dynasty expeditions to the Indian Ocean under Zheng He. The design, size, and rig of the largest “treasure ships” in the fleets are disputed, but the number and variety of ships that sailed is not. Courtesy of China Post.”

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