Friday, October 14, 2011

First Bookstore Signing

The setting couldn’t have been better for my first in-store book signing at a Cincinnati Barnes & Noble. The store held a New Authors Night that featured eight of us.

I’d had an event confirmation for weeks, but didn’t know what to expect in terms of the particulars. Would I be seated among other authors at a long table? If not, should I bring a tablecloth? It was October, and with a book title that included “Dracula,” should I give out Halloween candy?

I wasn’t sure how the signing process would work: Would customers buy a book and then bring it over to be autographed? Would there be a line? You think about many possibilities when you’re planning for the unknown.
Joe and I arrived about twenty minutes before the event. Each author had his or her own table, all of them located throughout the store. The tables were square, each with a tablecloth and a sign identifying the author who would be sitting there. When I found mine already stacked with copies of It Started with Dracula, I knew the signing would precede the purchase.
I’d packed my things early in the day: first, the Diva. The store had let us know that we could bring posters, so I carried mine to the car between rain showers and put “D,” as I call her, in the backseat with my collapsible easel. Next, I jammed my briefcase with bookmarks, “Autographed Copy” stickers, a camera, my signing pen, and Static Guard to keep my suit from sucking onto me. I decided to skip the candy, but took a disposable orange tablecloth, just in case, loading the car hours before I had to leave.
I took my time with my makeup and tried to put a few waves in my hair. In getting dressed, I chose my black pantsuit. When in doubt, it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed. I pinned the handmade bat pin from my friend, Anne, onto my left jacket lapel for good luck.
We put the Diva up at the end of the bookshelves nearest the signing table, all but blocking a display of Ken Follet’s novels. Sorry, Ken, but you’ll do all right, and I’m just starting in this business.
My first customer of the evening was a friend, Shannon. Other friends and family members dropped by during the next two hours, and two stayed. Joe stayed close by as well, so I was seldom alone or unoccupied. I met a few of the other new authors, some of whom were from the local area.
Brooke, the store’s Community Relations Manager, brought us drinks—coffee for Joe, water for me—and checked in with us several times during the evening. Just before we began packing up, she asked me to sign a few copies of ISWD for a display she will create based on New Authors Night.
This was the way to have a book signing. The ease of it made me realize not just how well the event had been planned, but also how much my friends and family members had contributed to the evening. As I travel to other communities, I expect I’ll have to transition from socializing to selling, but I hope every signing is this much fun.
Thanks especially to Brooke Edman of Barnes & Noble, 7800 Montgomery Road, Cincinnati, Ohio, who planned a great event and treated us like we were already famous.

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