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Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Debut Author on Tour

I've just completed a whole string of book signings. This past Saturday was the last of about seven or eight, and it was an interesting experience that I thought I'd share a little about.

To be quite honest, I went into this "tour" not expecting much, and in fact I didn't refer to it as a tour, even in my own head, for that reason. I'm a debut author, which means if you haven't heard about me online through blog reviews or interviews, you probably haven't heard of me. That, coupled with the many stories I've heard of even well-established authors, who have had very poor showings at book signings, helped to keep my expectations low.

My first experience with signing was at my launch party on September 19th. Prior to that, I'd just done a few drive-by signings at bookstores. I've done about a million of those now, and gotten quite comfortable with it. My launch party was filled with friends and family, which is a great way to break yourself into things. It was hard to think of individual things to sign in everyone's books, and I admit, I didn't do very well in that department. I had a long line up of people waiting to get books signed and I was just too nervous to be creative.

My next signing was in Oklahoma, part of the Encyclo-Media conference, and there I had an opportunity to sign (and speak) with four of my Class of 2k9/2k10 classmates. It's always fun to sign books with other people--you don't notice any lulls because you spend that time chatting. So even if you're not constantly busy signing, the time doesn't drag at all.

I also had one other group signing--a group of five Tenners in Snohomish, Washington. Again, it was so much fun to hang with my author-friends, and this was another speaking event with questions from the audience, and doing it as a group really took the pressure off.

Aside from that, I've done a string of solo signings in different cities within B.C. The bookstore in my hometown reviewed my book for the local paper prior to my signing, which helped get the word out. Also, my made-of-awesome publicist has been sending bag stuffers and posters about my visit in advance to each of the bookstores.

Still, even with great advertising, at one of my signings I didn't sell or sign a single book. It happens. And to be honest, it didn't feel nearly as bad as I thought it would. Thankfully I had a great conversation with the store owner and I'd also brought a friend along with me (this particular signing was quite a drive for me) so the time passed fairly quickly.

This past weekend was a great way to end this little string of signings though. I wasn't expecting much from the tiny town of Mission, B.C., but honestly, it was awesome! First, the manager offered (pretty much insisted) to bring me a gingerbread latte from Starbucks. Yum! I met all the staff, who were super-friendly, and some had already read my book and loved it. My first "customers" at my signing table were some good friends from Romania--yes, I said Romania--and I had no idea they were in town. They heard about my signing through a mutual friend and showed up to surprise me!

After that, there was a steady stream of customers, some who had heard about the signing and came specifically to see me, and some who noticed the sign that said "local author" and decided to give my book a try for that reason.

And if that all wasn't enough? The store manager brought out a stack of advance reader copies of books she had in the back so I had something to thumb through during the dead times--and she even let me snag one at the end!

So all in all it was a great time! To be honest, before Saturday's signing I was feeling a little tired. But the day really rejuvenated me. I really feel fortunate to have experienced such a variety of events early on. I'm sure every event will be different, even from here on in, but I really didn't have much idea of what to expect, so I thought this post might be interesting or useful for others.

I'd love to hear from other authors about their experiences with signings too. Good? Bad? Ugly?


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  2. Sounds like you've had some great experiences. It's amazing who you meet and talk to at signings. i've been doing a couple and wrote a blog post about a recent one. Looking forward to my book launch on the 27th!

  3. My first Lost in Lexicon signings have been all over the map, literally as well as in terms of success. From a signing in Albuquerque, where the owner had predicted 75-150 visitors and no one came, to signings in my two home towns, where the bookstore sold out of 30 to 50 books, there's been lots of variation. What's been the most fun has been to meet kids who have read the book and teachers who want to get it into their schools or book clubs.

  4. I remember going to a panel with an author I had been following for a while, and I wasn't sure what to expect. I hadn't ever really been to one, and when I got there, the author only had a handful of people show up.

    It never occurred to me that even New York Times Bestselling Authors would have some slow days, but it was great perspective for me. It was nice, though, it was much more personal. :)