Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Author Meets Public for First Time
What if I threw a party and no one came? That’s probably the fear of every writer approaching his or her first book-signing or reading. You put the word out every way you can, but there are no RSVPs, and when you show up for the event, all you can do is hold your breath and hope.
Saturday afternoon was the first book-signing for my mystery novel, The McHenry Inheritance. It was held from 1 to 3 p.m. at Crossroads Books, a locally owned store of about 2,000 square feet in a shopping center on Main Street in Watsonville. Kelly, the friendly and supportive owner, had told me that if six people show up to buy the book, that’s a good showing. Doing the math, I figured six people in two hours is one every 20 minutes. If I could keep each one talking for five minutes, that would be enough action to keep things interesting.
Leading up to the event, I got stories printed in three local papers, announced it on Facebook and Twitter, made an announcement (and paid a fine) at my Rotary Club, and sent e-mails to more than 100 people who live in the area. After that, I figured it was out of my hands.
The Curtain Rises
We got there a bit early on the appointed day and helped with the set-up, which consisted of putting a table by the front door, with a chair for me to sit in and a copy of my book propped up in plain sight. Kelly said she wanted me to sign the books, then have people take them to the register to pay.
The first customer showed up at five minutes to one, a woman I didn’t know, but who had read about the book and was interested in it. Shortly afterward, Elias and Heidi Alonzo came in. Elias and I had worked on a couple of projects in the past, but it had been a few years since I’d seen him. He got a copy for himself and one for a friend who had requested one. He gave the friend’s name, so I could write a personal inscription.
All in all it was a mixed bag of people: A couple of Rotary friends, two of Linda’s old childhood friends, a man who had an office just across the hall from me a few years ago, and a couple of people I knew from around town, and a couple of people I didn’t know at all. Perhaps the most pleasant surprise visitor was Margaret, who worked in the classified ad section of the newspaper when I was city editor and managing editor, and who I hadn’t seen in years.
Setting a Bookstore Record
It was really busy the first hour, then stopped altogether for about 35 minutes, then picked up again for the last 30 minutes. When the dust had settled, the event had generated 13 sales, and a few people also came in who had bought a book earlier in the week and wanted it signed. Kelly said it was the best sales event since she had become owner of the store. Afterward, we went out for coffee with one of Linda’s old friends and her fiancé.
All in all, it was a successful event and provided some much-needed positive reinforcement. There will no doubt be other bookstore appearances as I continue to flog the book, and some may be more lucrative in terms of sales. But none will be as fondly remembered as this first one.