The folks at Lake Pleasant, New York, certainly lived up to the town’s name on our recent visit. The occasion was an event this past Thursday evening, July 13, at the Lake Pleasant Public Library, where I was invited to present the program, “Tracking Robert Garrow, the Adirondack Serial Killer,” as part of the Library Reading Series. The library hosted us in partnership with the Adirondack Center for Writing, as part of a series sponsored by the Lake Placid Education Foundation, which provided funding that can be very important to presenters, particularly when travel and other expenses are involved.
We were pleasantly (there’s that word again!) greeted by library representatives, who were eager to talk about the building’s expansion that has been supported by volunteer work and donations, resulting in an excellent multi-use facility with a room well-suited to presentations. As “go time” approached, the Adirondack Room filled up until all the backup chairs were taken, and other attendees stood where space was available. (Several of them wisely took spots near the refreshment table.) It’s always great to have a packed house, but so much more memorable when both organizers and audience members are kind, courteous, and gracious. It would be hard to find a nicer group of people.
They exhibited patience as well when many of our titles were offered for sale (our company is Bloated Toe Enterprises, which includes several components but is primarily a book publisher). Never knowing for sure what to expect, and anticipating perhaps few sales because it was a library event, I displayed three copies each of several titles. But when the program ended, the demand for autographs and sales far exceeded expectations, which meant people had to wait in line while I twice retrieved more books from the car. (I learned long ago to always have a backup plan. One of the worst things that can happen to an author in situations like that is not being able to meet the demand for sales.)
Holding true to form, the attendees at Lake Pleasant waited patiently while I restocked the display table. Even after purchasing books, they stayed to ask questions, visit, and share their own experiences linked to the Robert Garrow story. It was a wonderful, at times hectic atmosphere that we reveled in, which made the long journey home—a two-hour drive—less of a chore. We arrived home just minutes before midnight. It could have been later, but Jill managed to avoid hitting deer at three locations where they seemed hell-bent on suicide.
The kindness and efficiency of the people at the library made everything a pleasure, and the funding provided by the LPEF through the ACW eased the financial burden. Authors who have “day jobs” and attend events at least incur the cost of travel, which means actually losing money if they sell no books that day. For us, writing and publishing are our livelihood. Appearing at various events can be both fun and important to the business, so we attend many and do enjoy them, but we always have to remain conscious of the bottom line.
The cost of gas alone often ranges from $35 to $50 for a trip. Other duties — un-shelving and packing 150 books (plus later re-shelving what is unsold), 10 to 15 hours of rehearsal time relearning a 90-minute presentation, 8 hours away from home for both of us — add up to between 30 and 40 hours of time that would normally be spent on income-producing work like editing, writing, and publishing. I recall that my colleagues during more than three decades in the “normal” workplace balked at performing even a few minutes of uncompensated work. While we’ve made the choice as business owners to do just that many times over the years, we need to maintain a healthy balance between paid and unpaid work.
By looking out for the interests of regional authors and writers through the inclusion of funding, the Adirondack Center for Writing and the Lake Placid Education Foundation are helping to ease those burdens, and it certainly is appreciated.
This is also true for authors with only one title to sell and talk about. Often only a few sales occur at their events, so it’s very helpful when travel costs are covered and/or some sort of stipend is offered. At the same time, we remain very aware of the budget struggles faced by many libraries. The ACW and LPEF have found at least one way to bring the two struggling entities together.
The library at Lake Pleasant is obviously in good hands, so once again, a tip o’ the hat to those in the Speculator area, thanks to all who attended, and kudos to the ACW, which has provided so many authors and poets with exposure and a helping hand. We encourage other writers to participate in the program should the opportunity arise.
Photo: The crowd at Lake Pleasant Public Library