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When an author first publishes a story an inevitable question pops to the surface. Should I have a book signing or not? I didn’t even wrestle with the question having made up my mind a while ago. Every year my author friends and I attend a national conference hosted by Romance Writers of America (RWA). On the first evening of the conference, there is a Literary book signing where hundreds of authors appear holding their pen ready to sign. Most everyone attends. The purpose of this event is to fund organization working against illiteracy. Who can’t get behind that?
No matter how many times I attend, it is always the same. The well know authors have long lines of fans waiting to get their books signed. These authors have single tables at the edge of the room to allow for the demand. The rest sit at the tables listed in alphabetical order. Then it is a scramble. Some are sought after and some are not. As people go through searching for the right name, authors meet their eyes and smile. Hoping you’ll stop and have a book signed. That hopeful author may have just published her first book or the second and the buzz hasn’t caught on yet. Everybody starts there. Right or wrong, I decided I wouldn’t attend a book signing until people cared enough to actually have a signed book from me. Arrogant? Maybe. Practical? Yes. Naïve? Definitely. Right out of the gate I attended my first book signing. It all started with the book launch.
At the end of March, we had our book launch at the Martini Lounge in Edmond. The Martini Lounge is the inspiration for Club 501 and the place Alicia Dean, Amanda McCabe, Kathy L Wheeler and I meet most Fridays to unwind and discuss our writing projects. This fine establishment hosted our book launch party with the added bonus of free samples of a 1920’s drink the Bees’ Knees. I, of course, was nervous about the event. What if no one came? What if no one was interested in our book? But I was also excited. We were having a party and were receiving much encouragement.
We all dressed in 1920’s style clothes complete with boas and a rhinestone martini pin given to us by Alicia’s sister. Then we waited. Our family and friends flocked inside. We were congratulated and given warm hugs. Everyone bought a book. For the next several hours amongst mingling with our guests, we passed our books to each other to sign. Then, unexpectedly, we sold out. What a great party. It was my first launch and a complete success.
Kathy L Wheeler, Alicia Dean, Krysta Scott and Amanda McCabe at Launch Party
The very next weekend, we headed down to Anadarko Library for a multi-author book signing. There were fourteen of us at the event. Everyone set up their tables with their books and decorations indicating their genre. We decorated our table with the Martini Glasses filled with candy. Gold, blue, red and green confetti was scattered across the surface. The library had banners made with every author’s name on them, every author was also given a laminated bio with an author picture and their book cover. It was a very well organized event. If a child attended, they were given a miniature version of the banner for every author to sign. When they got all fourteen signatures they got a free book from the library. Although attendance was lower than our launch party, everyone who came was interested in speaking with every author about their books. When there was a lull, we spent our time brainstorming our 1940’s story and visiting with the other authors. A very productive day.
I realized when you sign books with other authors, the event really isn’t about pushing books. Don’t get me wrong, selling a book is nice but it doesn’t have to be the only important thing. An author friend of mine, Callie Hutton (an author who also attended this event), told me not to look at it as a book selling opportunity but to view it as a networking opportunity. She’s right. A successful book signing is about meeting potential readers and getting to know them on a personal level. It’s also about getting to know your colleagues better, hearing their war stories and creating some war stories of your own. Just like in our stories, it isn’t about the destination. It’s about the journey. Now I look on the authors with the hopeful eyes differently. They’re at the start of their publishing journey. Not a bad place to be.
That’s all I have for now. Thank you for reading my post.