Last night I attended a presentation of authors Lee and Bob Woodruff, who talked about their new book In an Instant: A Family's Journey of Love and Healing, which tells about Bob's recovery from traumatic brain injury after being injured in action in Iraq. The event sponsored by Anderson's Bookshops was held at Naperville North High School in Naperville, Illinois, and attendance was good. The auditorium was almost filled. I had ticket number 664. Many books were sold and the lines for autographs were long, so the evening was a success for the bookstore, but I was disappointed.
Three things bothered me.
The first is that the central part of the event was set up as an interview. The Woodruffs sat across from Chuck Goudie, an ABC newsman who conducted the interview. Goudie did not seem prepared. He even joked about borrowing some questions. His questions seemed without focus, the pace was was slow, and I felt much time was wasted. Goudie called for audience questions rather early in the evening.
Audience questions can be good or bad. It was hard to tell because no microphones were provided. There were some interesting people in the audience who had experiences with traumatic brain injuries, but I could not hear what they said. Goudie and the Woodruffs had to repeat audience questions and comments.
There was no reading from the book. Authors ought to always give the audience readings from the books they are promoting. They should hook them into their prose. I left not really interested in the book.
Lee Woodruff was articulate, and Bob Woodruff spoke well for someone still recovering from his brain injuries. It was unfortunate that we heard from them so little of the time.
The lesson for bookstores and libraries is think twice before you let local news personalities run your author presentations. The Woodruffs are on tour for the next few weeks, so if you are in charge, check the arrangements.