Booksignings: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

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I’ll begin with the truth.  Writers love booksellers the way we love our first born sons.  We love booksellers the way we love chocolate, lattes, spring after long winters and beaches at sunset.  That said, we don’t always love booksignings.

This past weekend I had the opportunity to be on a panel at the Virginia Festival of the Book, an annual event sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.  Before the suspense grows too great, this event was one of the “good” ones.  As one of four authors, I was impressed and delighted by my colleagues, every one of whom had an interesting novel to offer. 

Sheila Curran spoke about her second novel Everyone She Loved.   Since her story, like my Happiness Key trilogy, is about four women friends, this became a must read for me. 

Sarah Pekkanen told us about her debut novel, the story of twin sisters entitled The Opposite of Me.  Haven’t all of us fantasized about having a twin?  Maybe we shouldn’t, but I’ll let you know once I’ve finished Sarah’s novel.

Katharine Weber gave an enthusiastic presentation about True Confections, which promises to be both a delightfully witty read and an in depth look at the candy industry–and far too many other fascinating subjects to go into here.  Although did you know that at one time, the Nazis wanted to relocate all European Jews to Madagascar?  I didn’t.  But I’ll know more once I’ve read Katharine’s novel.

We had a receptive audience and a cozy venue.  I was glad I made the trip south for this, particularly since some of my favorite readers made the trip to my panel, too. 

The bad and the ugly?  Well, not for me.  But a writer friend emailed this morning with a story I’ve unfortunately lived myself.  After being asked to participate in a multi-author booksigning, she arrived at the store to find no enthusiasm and no one in attendance.  At the end no one was available to wish them well and thank them.  They finally left, and are still wondering days later if anybody noticed. 

A well run book event is a great pleasure.  It promotes reading and bookselling and gives readers and authors much to think about.   The other kind does no favors.  Luckily that kind is rare, and often due to overworked personnel.  If you have a wonderful bookstore, with enthusiastic booksellers who love reading as much as you do and want to treat you to entertaining booksignings?  Tell them you’re grateful and buy a book while you’re at it. They will be grateful and more apt to continue.

I told the Virginia Festival of the Book I was grateful for all they do by becoming a “scribe.”  When I visit bookstores with enthusiastic sellers and beautiful displays, I never leave empty handed.  In the end I’m richer for both decisions, and of course, so are they.  Isn’t it great the way that works?


  1. Nancy Sindle on March 23, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    I’m so glad to hear your trip to the VA Book Festival was a good one for you. I find your books an absolute delight and am chomping at the bit to finish Sister’s Choice.
    I am currently a reading specialist and went to the Virginia State Reading Conference in Va Beach this past weekend. I had the opportunity to meet Jan Brett and boy was it exciting. However, I will say I did see a few other authors sitting at tables alone. It breaks my heart everytime!
    Here’s a funny one for you. At this conference, there was a booth that was set up like a bookfair NOT SELLING books. She had hundreds of books, at a reading conference and was NOT selling them!
    Loving your books-still!
    Nancy Sindle
    Stafford VA

  2. Julie Compton on March 24, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    So true. I’ve been to some sad events, and then I’ve been to some fabulous ones. Just last week I participated in the Festival of Reading put on by the Lake County, Florida library system, and it was one of the most professional, well-run programs I’d ever seen. As an author, I really felt appreciated by the library and their patrons alike. And the organizers did a wonderful job of bringing out the crowds.
    I did a booksigning recently, and at the end I bought another author’s book for myself. The bookseller said I was the first author to do that in a long time. I couldn’t believe it! I try to buy a book (or something) in every store in which I do an event. It seems only natural that as an author, I’d want to support the people who are suupporting me. My husband teases me: “You’re supposed to be selling them, not buying them!” But the two go hand-in-hand, I think. 🙂

  3. Emilie Richards on March 24, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    Nancy, that’s an odd one, isn’t it? And Julie, since we met at a book festival, I know you do exactly what you say you do. You bought one of my books that day and endeared yourself forever.
    Julie will be appearing in this space soon. Watch for an interview.

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