May 13, 2015

Surprises at a Book Signing

By Claire Fullerton

I had an unusual experience last week with a book-signing event I set up in the Northern California town where I spend part of the year. Although I am not well known in the town, I am friendly with the owner of the town’s singular bookstore, where I was scheduled for an author’s appearance heralding my second novel’s release. There are not many media outlets in this charming, tourist town, yet there is one newspaper with wide distribution that locals and tourists consider the main source of information. I wrote the paper three weeks in advance, sending my book’s description, three reviews, my bio, my book cover, and the time and date of my event.
Two days before the event, I opened the local paper and discovered there had been no mention of my pending appearance, and although I was surprised, I kept my cool. Rather than commenting on fate one way or another, I took matters into my own hands. Reaching into my satchel of promotional material, I took out the postcards I had printed with my book cover on front and description on back. In the space beneath my book’s description, I wrote, “Author book signing” with the time and place.
“I’ll be back in a little while,” I said to my husband, then I took to the streets. I passed out my postcards at the library, post office, hair salon, and went to every shop whose proprietor knows me, trusting that my enthusiasm would prove magnetic.  

On the day of the event, I displayed copies of my book beside the bookmarks I planned to give away. I stationed myself by the store’s ajar, Dutch door, and relied on Saturday foot traffic. “Welcome to “The Pilgrim’s Way,” I smiled as each patron entered, “I’m today’s guest author and my latest novel is literary fiction, set on the western coast of Ireland and entitled, “Dancing to an Irish Reel.” 
I counted on the fact that people will stop for anybody smiling and making eye contact. I also factored in that many who enter a bookstore do so without a concrete agenda; they simply want to look around because they like to read.

Four of the fourteen people who bought my book came as a result of the postcards I distributed the two days before, the rest were idle shoppers with whom I spontaneously engaged. My author appearance went so well that the owner of the bookstore offered me a job after telling me the average sale during an event was three. The lesson I learned is that an author’s belief in and enthusiasm for their book is contagious that engagement with readers is imperative, and if things go seemingly awry, an author can work creatively and achieve wonderful results.
Claire Fullerton is the author of “Dancing to an Irish Reel” (Literary Fiction) and “A Portal in Time,” (Paranormal Mystery), both from Vinspire Publishing.  She is an award winning essayist, a contributor to magazines, a five time contributor to the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book series, and a former newspaper columnist. Claire grew up in Memphis, TN and now lives in Malibu, CA with her husband, two German shepherds and one black cat. Currently, she is writing her third novel.

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