"Oh, I would have come to your tea social, but I had to be at a book launch party at my editor's request. No, I don't fart or belch in public, and my underarms smell like freshly baked cinnamon rolls."
Yeah... maybe not, but I'm still looking forward to it.
Then the following weekend (Oct 18-20th) is CONtraflow III, at the Kenner Doubletree. I'll be there all weekend, doing panels, signing books, and generally being "THE" Rob Cerio. If you go to either event, be prepared to hear and see a lot of people referring to me with the "THE" in front of my name.
"THE" Rob Cerio is something that originally started out as a gag, but one that grew legs and my fans, friends, and friends that are fans embraced. I suppose that this is the part of the story where I'm supposed to get all humble, say "I have no idea who started it" and talk about how I have come to begrudgingly accept it.
Yeah... that's bullshit Puffin talk. I love being "THE" Rob Cerio, partially because it's so much better than being "A" Rob Cerio, and partially because it has really become a branding thing for me.
|Pictured: A Puffin. Better looking and cuter than Penguins, but very humble about it.|
The first time, it embarrassed the hell out of me. As the weekend wore on, it became less so. Plus that, it really did work... people that had never heard of me suddenly wanted to know who this big dude was that everyone was shouting about. By the second or third convention I was a guest at, it had become less and less of a joke. By the time the second CONtraflow rolled around a year later, all of the convention signage with my name on it had "THE" before it. When I do the occasional interview, I'm consistantly introduced as "THE" Rob Cerio. It has in a very real sense gone from a joke among friends to being my brand.
I know a lot of my friends are still joking when they do it, but it's not in a mean way. At the last Wizard World convention I attended (Not as a guest, still working on that) a few of my friends did this as I innocently walked past my booth, and before I knew it, there were a hundred or so people all cheering the fact that I was simply there, most of whom had probably never heard of me until that moment. I was a little embarrassed at all the attention when I wasn't even a guest or had a table or anything, but it was really kind of awesome.
It's a little strange having a "public persona" to manage, and for a long time I kept trying to separate the two in my head before I came to the realization that it's a false distinction. I found out fairly quickly that "THE" had to still be "ME" or I was going to drive myself a little crazy. Things are just so much easier when you realize that for better or worse, the public persona is you. Maybe with a "game face" but you nonetheless. It's not without risk, putting yourself out there for others to appreciate or judge... but the risks are totally worth it.