Saturday, October 20, 2012

Book (not) Signing at Barnes & Noble

I had an interesting night at Barnes & Noble in Greenville, NC last night. I have had an even planned for over a month there with the Events Coordinator, or so I thought. I noticed a couple of weeks ago, that my book reading was not on their website. I called and reached the manager who assured me that he would get this changed and get back to me. He didn't. The website did announce my book signing and children's activity. I've been really excited to be able to do this, considering my book is self-published. Henry had done book signings for both of his books there and the staff were exceptionally nice and helpful. I'm very sick this weekend with a cold, but mustered the energy to go anyway. After all, I had committed my time.

My friend, Debbie, went with me bringing props and encouragement. When we got there, I was directed to the manager on duty. She asked me which book I'd like to read. I said, "My book." The other staff asked, "Oh, you wrote a book?" From there, it seemed to go further downhill. The lady in charge of the events had not let them know I was coming. Barnes & Noble corporation didn't approve my poster to go up that I sent them to let people know about the event, although I was told they had been telling people who came into the store.

The books had not been ordered in time and weren't there. Unlike the twenty plus children I had been assured were always there on Friday nights, there were about four or five children with parents that came over after my event was announced. I had a choice - get p'ed off and leave or make the most of the situation. I decided to stay and retrieved the one book I had in my car. My mother and sister had driven in and so had friends of ours.

I read the first chapter. Everyone was very nice and laughed at the funny parts (yes!). The children took bookmarks with my book's cover printed on them and a candy and one even came back for more before I left. So I think it turned out well. My friends said they really liked the book, which made me feel great. I am very grateful, however, to the staff who were working last night. They were very nice and helped me make the most of the situation, even offering sweet treats to the listeners.

I'm learning so much from this publishing "thing," mostly how to make a good impression while I'm standing there representing my book. Out of the children there, one little boy sat in a chair reading another book to himself while I was reading mine. As a teacher, though, I found this a little amusing and thought at least he's found a book that's fascinating to him enough to hold his attention for a while. The older children were very attentive and polite and seemed to enjoy themselves. A toddler stood and cried through the first third of the chapter until his mother finally carried him off. You have to smile. Poor baby probably wondered why he was forced to stand with nothing to do but listen to that strange woman in the cape.

My next stop is the Kenly library on October 31. I'm really looking forward to this because the librarian in charge had gone to so much trouble. She has sent me ongoing emails to update me on her efforts.She's sent a notice to the elementary and middle school, put an ad in the newspaper, had someone from there to interview me. I guess the lesson is, not everyone who sets up these events for you will go to this trouble. You need to follow up with people who are hosting you to see just what they've done for promotion and if they haven't done much, you need to do it yourself.

So, I just thought I'd share my experiences with you. For new authors, when your books are published, be prepared to do a lot of phone time and footwork to promote them. Half the work seems to come after the book comes out.

And, find humor where you can wrestle it out of a bad situation. It might make for good writing later:)

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