Well, I just returned from my first book signing for Wind Follower. It was a "Calling all authors" thingey to celebrate the anniversary of the local Barnes and Noble.
Anyways, I learned a lot from this experience so here goes.
First thing I learned: Do NOT eat mackerel and coconut before a book signing. I don’t know what possessed me but I just had to make the stuff. (It’s called run-down, by the way and it’s a Jamaican delicacy.) One spends the entire time asking one’s sitting mate: Do I smell fishy? (And of course the honest ones alsways say, “yes, you do.” So I was constantly going to the bathroom to wash my hands.)
Second thing I learned: Do NOT trust your older son to bring the car up in time. Just don’t. All night partying etc just doesn’t give way to mom-trying-to-be famous. I had to take a cab to the signing. That kid owes me.
I enter and Nick Olivieri, the CRM who is coordinating the event, is busy moving things and arranging things. The guy is good, let me tell you. Props!
Well, I noticed – cause well I noticed– that the writer I was sitting beside had her amazon reviews all printed out in front of her. Immediately, I tapped Nick. (I got really good at tapping and nagging the poor guy but he was a sport.) Could he go online and go to my website for my reviews? Ten minutes later, he returns with printed copies of my online reviews.
Next thing that happens, a big vase of roses arrives for yours truly. My friends, Mike and Lisa had sent it. They are responsible for feeding the folks at a local army base around here. I was so happy and just felt super-loved. Hey, nobody else had a dozen roses in front of them.
These things go on forever and if the CRM is an easygoing guy he’ll give everyone two or three chances at the apple. The first time I went up I was wonderful the second time I was flustered. This leads to two bits of education.
Third thing I learned: Have two or more ways of presenting the book. I ended up going up three times. First time was amazing. A real high. Then a second woman went and she read from her book. I realized I hadn't read. So at the end of the first round I got up and said to the people: "Oops, forgot to read!" So I read one of my favorite chapters (not the prologue, which is mighty powerful.) Then on the second round, I spoke again and got nervous cause I had already said what I had to say the first go round. And, after shouting out to the store: "I hope no one here has any torture issues" I read the prologue.
Fourth thing I learned: When you’re nervous don’t tell everyone. Two of the other writers told me they didn’t know I was nervous until I said.
Fifth: Bring business cards, postcards, bookmarks. Okay, okay, I should’ve known this one.
Sixth thing: Create a mailing list made up of names culled from people you met at your last store visit. This co-writing team had tons of visitors. Maybe it was cause they were writing a childcare book for parents, who knows? But while the other eight writers were sitting around looking forlorn, these guys seemed to sell a lot of books. Strangely, though, this leads to
the seventh thing I learned: bond with the other authors. The two aforementioned writers ticked the rest of us off. Not because they had all those fans but because they kept to themselves before and after the event and basically acted as if they were the hottest thing since slice bread. At the end when all the writers were exchanging business cards (see above) and news of future events no one approached these superior biddies who were obviously so convinced they were big fish among unimportant small fry. One of the writers I met is in charge of a writers group tour and she's signed me up to go to the Newburgh signing in January.
Eight thing: bring out the microphone early. Enough said.
Ninth thing: Bring a digital camera. Now I have to wait for Nick to send me a couple of photos from his digital camera.
Tenth thing: Bring something to eat. Or bring money to buy something. Better yet: Bring a gopher. These things go on forever sometimes. Note to self: Older son owes you.
Eleventh thing: Don't be too humble. There was a very kind man there with us. His name was Ralph something or other. He is a professor emeritus from New York University and he self-published a book. But he never got up to speak. He kept saying he hated marketing. We chatted a lot. But I don't quite remember his last name. Not good. I don't even remember the name of his book. Interesting, uh?
Twelth thing: Tell the store about other books you were involved in. I totally forgot about the anthologies I was in: Fiction anthologies such as So Long Been Dreaming, edited by Nalo Hopkinson or Fantastical Visions III edited by William Horner or Nobody Passes: essays on gender and identity, edited by Matt/Mattilda Sycamore Bernstein. He's got a great blog over at Nobody passes blogspot Very painful blog, though. So don't go there unless you can deal with sexual pain. Anyway, the thing is I totally forgot that I could have mentioned these other books.
Thirteenth thing: Bring a written list of Juno Authors or other friends' books. The only other Juno Books I saw in the bookstore were Gail Dayton’s The Eternal Rose and Matt Cook’s Blood Magic. I looked for Amberlight by Sylvia Kelso and several others but couldn’t find them. But, of course, I had to depend on my memory for several names. But there's something else about a list. Folks kept asking me stuff as if I was a font of knowledge. Who were good Black crime fiction writers? I thought of my good friend, Robert Fleming. A great writer. Mentioned him, of course, because his name was at the top of my brain. Mentioned Brandon Massey. Cause I remembered his name. But I didn't mention Walter Moseley. Simply forgot he existed. Other folks asked who some great black spec fic writers were: I mentioned Nnedi and Zahrah the Windseeker. Got messed up on how to spell Nnedi's last name. Wasn't sure if her last book was The Shadow Speaker or The Shadow Seeker. Remembered Tobias Buckell's Ragamuffin and Crystal Rain when someone asked about Black Science Fiction writers. Mentioned Tananarive Due, Sheree Thomas, Nalo Hopkinson, Steven Barnes. But for the most part, I was a total blank. So next time I'm gonna have a publicity packet which includes names and titles of black spec fic writers, black crime writers, black christian writers, and Christian writers. Yep, I've got a month and a half until the Newburgh B&N reading so I've got a lot to do.
Anyways, at the end of the presentation, Nick decided he would have an autograph table. So those of us who were eligible for the benefit were asked to sign some of our books. I signed ten. He had ordered 30 and I think we sold five while I was there. The others will be divided and placed in the Fantasy, Romance, and African American sections. I suggested (Okay, so I'm pushy. I'll admit it.) that he turn Wind Follower face forward so black folks walking in the Fantasy section would see that there was a black character on the cover.) Anyway, I am now in four different sections of the bookstore. I almost asked him to put Wind Follower on one of the endcaps but that would've meant another author being removed. I'm pushy but I'm not selfish. So I let that one go.
Other writers at the reading were:
Carolyn Doggett Smith who has self-published nonfictions such as The Absentee American and Strangers at Home. About American children raised in other countries. The book she was selling is called The House of the Faun: A novel of Pompei. The book is available on amazon and at The house of the faun
There was also Drs Albert and Alvin Silbert, educators who have written a book called, When Bad Grades happen to good kids. The book is on amazon. Their website is Strong learning
Norma Lehmeier Hartie, who is the Grand Prize Winner of the 15th Annual Writer’s Digest International Self-Published Book Awards. Her book, Harmonious Environment, competed against 2,404 total entries this year in nine different categories. Harmonious Environment was also a finalist in ForeWord Magazine’s Home & Garden category and a finalist in the Nautilus book awards. Her blogsite is harmoniousenvironment blogspot
Tony Higgins, A Jamaican Welshman now living in NY whose book True Believer: a violent tale of love, Greed, and betrayal is about a cop who finds himself in a governmental conspiracy.
My friends, Dan (also my webmaster), my friend, Margaret, and Christine (who dressed me and photoed me on the book jacket) and my husband's boss, Craig Yoe .
All in all it was fun. And may I say, I was born to be adored. Yep, I’m a ham who just eats up attention. And honestly, I am so lovable... and I have a weird kind of fun-loving quality that is downright catching. So, yeah, I had to tone down all this wonderful personality to let others shine. This kind of thing can become addictive, though. -C