Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Best Book Signings Ever

The Village Bookstore in Garrettsville, Ohio
This month I had three of the best book signings ever. It wasn’t that I sold more books at these book signings; it was those who came to them.

The first one was at a Rotary Club in Mantua, Ohio; part of the district where I taught for twenty years. The person who arranged the signing contacted me by email through my web site. I wasn’t sure how he found out about me, but later discovered he’d clipped an article from a small area newspaper about a signing I’d done nearby. We arranged for a Tuesday evening when they had an opening and I was free, too.

There was a major downpour when I arrived at the church where they meet. I waited a while hoping it would let up, but when it didn’t I dashed in to verify I was in the correct place. I was. There were several women there setting up the tables for dinner and finishing meal preparations. They helped me carry my books in and set up on a low stage at the front of the room. Gradually, others started arriving and introducing themselves including the man who had contacted me.
Ivy Green, one of the girls who came.

What made it absolutely the best book signing ever? Two girls walked in; two of my former students I considered my adoptables; students I would have adopted if they ever became available and I actually wanted to take on raising kids again. There were always a few in every class that won my heart and some classes had more than other classes. The class they were in had many. It’s not that I ever showed any favoritism, but it was there deep down.

There was laughter and hugs. I hadn’t seen them in quite some years and they were all grown up now. To make it even better, the mother of one of the girls came in, too. I sat across the table from Ivy and Madeline, the girls, and Madeline’s mother, Kendra. They each had just finished their freshman year of college in different schools. It was so cool catching up on what they were doing and to hear what different friends of theirs from that class were doing, and to reminisce about their year in third grade. They had heard they were two of the characters in my book; The Sherlock Holmes Detective Club.

After the meal I gave my little talk about my books and how I came to write them, etc. followed by questions and answers. There seemed to be a lot of interest by the questions asked. I was thrilled to have several women say they’d read and liked my books and one had brought her copies and wanted me to sign them. I sold about seven books that night – not a lot but quite enough as far as I’m concerned.

Ivy, Madeleine and Kendra helped me pack up and carry my books out to my car and then stayed to talk. I’d forgotten to take my camera, but Kendra took lots of pictures of the three of us together. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to get in touch with her to get any of the pictures for this blog.

The next signing was the following evening at the Newton Falls Library. I don’t think it was advertised much – maybe a notice on the counter? Anyway, except for the new young librarian, two members of my book club, who already had bought and read my books, and a young girl probably just out of high school, perhaps, were all that came. So we sat in a circle and I talked about how I started writing and other things, and we had a lovely discussion for an hour. That night I didn’t sell any books, but I got a lovely note from one of my book club members several days later saying she’d learned so many new things about me and was quite impressed. Wow!

The funniest thing about this evening was the young girl who followed me out to the parking lot and asked how to get published. I told her I do my own with help from a computer geek and a granddaughter designs my covers. I asked what she writes. She said not anything really, but she’d written a few essays in the past. I’m assuming for an English class? I stood there dumbfounded, then told her she had to write something first and told her about our local writers group and when we meet. I suggested she join us and said not everyone has something to share at every meeting. She said she would. She didn’t – at least not yet.

Ellen Eckhouse, owner of The Village Bookstore 
My third book signing was at The Village Book Store in Garrettsville this past Saturday afternoon where I’ve had two book signings before. Ellen Eckhouse, the owner, is the parent of two of my adoptables; one from the same class as Ivy and Madeleine and one a few years earlier. Over the years we’ve become friends, and when I need a book for one of my book clubs or an older mystery I want, I contact her. She sells mostly used books, but a few new ones, too. There were four other authors there, and probably because of the nice weather keeping people home working in their gardens, etc. none of us sold a lot of books. However, I did sell three or four, and I met some lovely people, including Fred Tribuzzo, author of American Sky, a history of local fliers. He shared a table with me, and his wife and mother sat nearby.

A young check out girl at Aldi’s, the grocery store where I shop most often, always greets me with “There’s the famous author.” It always makes me laugh because nothing could be further from the truth. However, there are fans who are bugging me for that fourth book. One comes into The Village Bookstore quite often and always asks Ellen if I have that fourth book out yet. And that’s all the famous I need. As Garrison Keillor would say, "It’s good enough."

Have you had book signings and how did you do?

Have you gone to book signings of authors you like? Who were they?


  1. My favorite (or favourite as I am writing from Canada) book signing was at our church in Savannah. People already knew me so I didn't need to do introductions and such. I started with a brief reading and opened it up for questions.

    People still had questions after our allotted hour's time.

    ~ Jim

  2. I love book signings! I meet a lot of new people and get to introduce them to my work.

    It sounds like yours went really well, Gloria. It's not a really efficient way to sell books, but I find it very satisfying.

  3. Compared to everyone else, I'm a total novice. I've only had one book signing for an anthology. With all the authors and their families there, we had a nice crowd. On my own--I'd be scared witless! I'm so glad your signings were wonderful, Gloria.

  4. Jim, it was my book launch for my first book rather than a book signing that I did at my church. I couldn't believe all the people who came and books I sold. I couldn't top that, but ones like I had this month were so good, too, even though I didn't sell as many books. It was meeting new people that made it so good.

    KM, you're right it may not be an efficient way to sell books, but it is a good way to meet people and introduce your books to new readers.

    E.B. your time is coming. My first book signing wasn't really a signing, but having people coming up to me to sign my story in FISH TALES at Malice - all fellow Guppies who had stories in that anthology with maybe a few others who didn't.

  5. What a lovely set of signings. As you say, Gloria, it's the people who come that makes the event.

    You have a great attitude about what success is and i'm sure that carries you through the days of editing and "getting it right."

  6. I once did a "signing" when I did not sell even one book, but it was great. I spoke to a book club where everyone had already bought my book. We had a great discussion and there was no pressure to sell.

  7. Thank you, Claire. I think part of it is being self-published where I don't have pressure from a publisher to sell a certain amount of books or they'll drop me. Yes, I want people to read and enjoy my books, but mostly I write because I like to tell stories.

    Warren, a member of one of my book clubs wanted me to discuss that first book with them, but I told her know. No one would feel free to criticize my book, and that's what book discussions are all about; discussing what's good and what didn't work for the reader. However, I would be willing if it wasn't a book club I belonged to.

  8. All three book signings sound wonderful, Gloria. But it must have been a special treat to have two of your adoptables at a signing. What a great feeling to know that you made a positive impact on the life of a young person. I still fondly remember my favorite teachers.

  9. I'm a novice with only two signings under my belt, both for the Chesapeake Crimes: This Job Is Murder anthology. At the first, I nearly dropped dead when a Complete Stranger, someone who was not a friend or relative, told me she liked my story and asked me to sign. What a kick!
    My second was at Malice. I will always be grateful to Gin Malliet who saw me sitting there all by myself and asked me to sign the anthology. So in one hour I signed for only one person, but she is an author I admire, so for me it was a great signing.

  10. Kara, Ivy actually won a full scholarship to Vassar - not that I had anything to do with that. She'd already won a scholarship for her high school years in a very upscale private school. Her parents didn't have the money to send her. She was a very bright and talented girl and so was her older brother, although unfortunately he hasn't found out yet what he wants to do with his life.And you're right, I run into former students or their parents once in a while and they still remember things we did in my class.

    Shari, my first signing was at Malice, too, for FISH TALES. I was surprised when someone approached me in he hall and wanted me to sign my story. They were trying to get as many stories signed as they could.

  11. Gloria, these sound like wonderful events! I'm so glad you had a chance to see former students and visit with friends. I know they appreciated your warmth and enthusiasm. Best wishes for your many future signings!