According to eharmony 40% of Americans are dating online, but only 20% of committed relationships are starting there. While portrait swiping applications have streamlined casual flings romantics struggle with the limitations of the platform. Texting isn’t like having a conversation. It’s hard to gage inflection, read expressions, or process the subtle cues that are lost between the lines. Prospective lovers can pour their hearts into a text string but when they meet face to face it either clicks or it doesn’t.
Chemistry is governed by so many subconscious factors that no algorithm can predict when it’ll actually work. The person on one side of the table could check all of the other’s boxes, and still fill them with strong urge to flee the scene. For whatever reason sparks aren’t flying. The Venn diagram of expectation and reality isn’t overlapping. The polarity just feels off.
Hookup applications are convenient for people who want to get straight to the Netflix and Chillaxing. Those poor souls aching for long term companions will have endure a lot of awkward situations.
Writing in public, I’ve witnessed a lot first dates the devolved in the first 30 seconds, a lot of situations where both parties looked like they could use an easy out. This is when I stumbled upon a great new oppurtunity for self-promotion.
Writer to the Rescue
If you want dominate your subgenre on Amazon you’ve got to get more review scores than your peers. Sure, you could float some free copies of your book to influencers, hoping the cool cover art will get you to the top of their slush piles. Of course the competition has already thought of that one.
If you really want to boost your signal through the noise you’ve got to get creative. You’ve got to slide your pages beneath peepers who weren’t expecting them. You’ve got to run your book promotion through other people’s conversations.
What better place to engage new readers than in the middle of romantic encounters that aren’t going anywhere?
See that couple at the end of the bar? The one with the wandering eyes and restless legs. They could sure use some help filling those awkward pauses in. If only there was a kind soul willing to jumpstart their conversation. Someone willing to tell them a story. Someone capable of delivering a bombastic cinematic experience with their tongue alone.
The Lost Art of Interjecting
You can’t go interjecting into just any first date. Look for signs that either party are feeling romantic remorse. Are they shifting in their seats, trying to see their date from the angle of their online photo? Are their warmest smiles coming from something they’re seeing on their phones? Does one party appear to have more chemistry with the wait staff than the person they’re here to see?
Tilt your head, tune your ear, and drop some eaves.
If one party announces they have a second engagement after this one, you have an in. If one of them inorganically proselytizes religious beliefs, you have an in. If one of them wades into the polarizing waters of cultural warfare, then you what are you waiting for? Get in there.
Let them Think You’re Supposed to be There
One or more parties may wish to keep the date going for the sake of decorum, which is why you’ll have to make your interjection part of the environment. Just as buskers make tips by enhancing diners’ experiences, so too must the novelist. This is why, no matter my surroundings, I introduce myself as the author in residence.
“You probably saw on the hotel’s Facebook page that I was going to be here this evening. Well, on behalf of the DoubleTree, Doubleday publishing, and this fine double malt scotch I’d like to thank you for coming.”
I imply I’m here as a favor to the establishment, as though I’m moonlighting as an influencer, using my platform to perpetuate the stereotype of the alcoholic author.
“I’m supposed to tell you that that yellow concoction was Hemmingway’s favorite Daiquiri, that the house cocktail was based on Mark Twain’s recipe, that the top shelf Vodka was Sylvia Plath’s favorite, and some other authors’ preferences I’ve conveniently forgotten.”
This is how I get the couple to invite me to join them. I imply I’m about to move on and give the neighboring booth the same spiel.
This is usually where the gentleman says, “Remind me what you’ve written.”
This is an opportunity for emerging authors to cycle through their unfinished manuscripts to bulk up their bibliography.
“The Book of Mirrors, I am Fire, We the Damned…
“Ahhh yes, you write horror.”
The gentleman feigns recognition as the lady raises her eyebrow. “Horror? Oh my? What drew you to such divisive genre, Mr?…”
This is where I kiss her hand. “Drizzlewick T. Chillington esquire.”
“You’re also a too?”
“I’m a notary. It’s practically the same thing, but to answer your fist question: I wasn’t drawn to horror my dear. Oh no. Horror was drawn to me. Since as far back as I could remember I suffered from sleep paralysis. Each incidence came with vivid hypnopompic hallucinations that felt as real as you do now.”
This is where the couple usually leans forward. “What did you see?”
“Lying there, pinned to the mattress, I stared at the closet as the door slid along the track. I saw a blood drenched hellscape so vile it sent streaks of silver through my hair. Every morning my mother found me hiding in the grandfather clock, a little grayer than I’d been the night before.”
“Did she ever bring you in for treatment?”
“The 80s was different time. The mind was a confounding mystery and neurology was still a primitive study. I was subjected to electroshock, trepanation, and in one final act of desperation: talk therapy.”
“Did it work?”
This is where I make a theatrical display of concealing my quivering hands beneath the table. I shake my head. “No amount of hydrotherapy or healing colonics could rinse the demons out. It wasn’t until I put them down on paper that my mind began to clear.”
Any influencer will tell you it’s best to sell yourself first and your creations second.
Salvage their Evening By Pitching Your Writing
Recognize that this couple is never going to “couple.” Neither party is going to invite the other up for coffee. Neither one will push the other on a newly installed sex swing. Your interruption will be the centerpiece of their evening. So get good and sloshed and take them on a journey.
“My novel He Had Many Nameschannels my boyhood experiences with sleep paralysis into a tale about a haunted hotel. It follows Noelle Blackwood, a screenwriter whose terrified she’s aging out of Hollywood for good. Desperate for work, she takes a job ghostwriting for a hack author. The hack wants to sequester Noelle in an art deco hotel. This is where Noelle uncovers the truth about devils, secret societies, and Hollywood hedonism.”
This is where I gift my audience with signed copies, with bookmarks that politely remind them: Like what you read? Let the world know by leaving a rating on Amazon!
I find the worse the date was going before my interjection the more likely the couple will read my book later on. It helps wash the unpleasant aftertaste of one another’s company out.