Real-world author events are usually overrated unless you are Christina Oxenberg

Being in the right place at the right time and taking advantage of a situation should not be underrated.

Taryn Ryder, writing for omg!, reported [claimed] that Gwyneth Paltrow hijacked the East Hampton Library’s 9th Annual Authors Night on  Saturday, August 10.

And Christina Oxenberg may have been the loudest complainer quoted by the media. Oxenberg complained about the number of people who came to see the A-list actress.  Then Oxenberg complained about the A-list actress’s healthy vegan lifestyle and decided to eat unhealthy food at her author table next to Paltrow to rub it in and of course get more attention.

How many authors were at this event? Ryder failed to mention that in her omg! piece.

IMDb reported, “Paltrow was one of about a hundred writers who gathered for the East Hampton Library’s Authors Night … and she was seated — “due to the inflexibility of the alphabet” — next to writer Christina Oxenberg at the fund-raising event. Paltrow was signing her cookbook “It’s All Good,” Oxenberg her latest book “Life Is Short: Read Short Stories.”

Christina Oxenberg should get down on her knees and thank God that Paltrow’s table was next to her’s, because now Oxenberg and her work has been exposed to millions of readers who would have never heard of her. I never heard of her. Have you heard of her?

I think that’s why Oxenberg acted like a smart “ass” to make sure she was noticed and quoted by the media. After all, even bad publicity is better than no publicity. Besides, the media doesn’t pay much attention to someone being polite and nice. In fact, I think you have to be an “ass” to get media exposure and Oxenberg was smart enough not to miss this chance at priceless national media exposure.

Until I read Ryder’s omg! piece, I didn’t know that Oxenberg even existed, and that led me to search Amazon to find out what she writes. The book that Oxenberg was plugging at this one-hundred author event was “Life is Short”.

I couldn’t find “Life is Short” on Amazon, but I did find “Royal Blue”; “Do These Gloves Make My Ass Look Fat?” and “Taxi”.

My wife is an A-list author who has lectured to hundreds of people in sold-out events across the country. But it wasn’t always that way. In 1994, when her first book, Red Azalea, came out—before it became a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and went on to win the Carl Sandburg Award—she had author events in bookstores where no one came.

In addition, I’ve been to a few of my own author events—as a lowly midlist author—ranging from no one showing up to a full house with standing room only, but none of those events sold many books. Even a dozen sales was considered good but can’t compare to one ad on BookBub that sold more than 1,900 copies of my work in one day. I’d be willing to bet that there wasn’t one author at the East Hampton Library’s 9th Annual Authors Night who sold that many books at the event—not even Gwyneth Paltrow.

The best thing that ever happened to Christina Oxenberg as an author was sitting next to Gwyneth Paltrow. It was like winning the lottery. I wonder if Oxenberg realizes that yet.

What did I learn? When opportunity knocks, make sure to open the door like Oxenberg did and make a smart ass of myself unless I’m too much of a dumb ass to even notice.


Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran and English-journalism teacher.

His latest novel is the award winning Running with the Enemy that started life as a memoir and then became a fictional suspense thriller. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

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2 responses to “Real-world author events are usually overrated unless you are Christina Oxenberg”

  1. The whole fiasco was covered ad nauseum on the local news here. I’m amazed that overflying birds were not killed by the huge, sucking vacuum — devoid of oxygen that was created by a tent full of celeb authors! That human beings willingly subjected themselves to that is truly terrifying.

    1. I did the author event thing in 2008 and 2009 and sold maybe forty books spread out over six to eight events. I had to drive to each event and then drive back—two trips were to the Los Angeles Times/UCLA Festival of Books and that was a 1,000 miles round trip.

      At one event there was a full house with standing room only and maybe twelve bought copies of my book.

      My wife has probably done hundreds of author events in the last twenty years. Everyday sitting in cars or catching flights from one airport to the next city. At one event in Washington DC, there were several hundred people and they sold maybe twenty-five books. Maybe some of the people go home and buy a copy for a lower price from Amazon.

      There will probably always be author events but that heyday has passed. I think the internet is where authors may find new readers today. An author may create an event at home, film it and then post the film on YouTube and readers may become part of the audience any time they want from the comfort of their home.

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