Jennifer Lyon


Wednesday, July 21st, 2021
Stories from Book Signings

I’ve done a fair amount of book signings. I had fun at a lot of them and a few odd experiences at others. I’ll share a few here.

One of my best memories:

A lady who brought in her (previously purchased) copy of one of my first books, Dying To Meet You. She handed it over and sheepishly said, “I’m sorry it’s all beat up. I’m a bus driver, and I read it on my breaks. I loved this book so much I took it everywhere with me. Do you mind signing it even thought it’s ragged and I didn’t buy it here?

I liked her instantly and was not only thrilled, but honored to sign it for her. That woman and her well-loved copy of my books lives in my memory. I smiled every time I think of her. I also love that I was at a privately owned bookstore who didn’t hassle the woman for bringing in her own copy. They were smart enough to know that woman would remember her good experience and return to that bookstore.

Annoying. 

The time one of my publisher’s sent me to a big box store to sign books in a big promotion and the store had no clue. None. No books, nothing. It was a total waste of time and energy. My editor was furious.

Unnerving.

I picked up a stalker at one big multi-author signing in New York. He kept telling me strange stories including the time he killed someone with a shotgun. Once I finally got him to leave, the lady signing next to me leaned over and said, “I’ve been a reporter for over a decade, and I’m telling you, he’s a stalker. You need to be very careful.”

I have rarely taken advice to seriously as I did that day. Before she said it, I was unnerved and wondering if I was overreacting. Her words snapped me out of that. I told all my friends with me at the conference to keep my room number quiet, I told my agent about it, and I let the hotel know to NOT give out any information about me. Because I have great friends, they often walked me to my room or checked that I got in safely. Fortunately that man and I lived on opposite coasts. He emailed me with more stories over the years, but I never responded. And thankfully, he never showed up again.

I have a moral to this one: Always listen to the voice that warns you of danger. Like the lovely, smart and concerned woman next to me. Looking back, I believe her warning may have saved me from real harm.

Troubling:

I remember specifically where I was sitting at a Barnes and Noble singing. A really sweet woman was looking at my book, asking me questions, and we were chatting about life things like getting our hair colored. Sometimes people who seem lonely stop and chat like that, and as long as I don’t have a line, I’m good with it.

But then her husband stalked over, yanked the book out of her hand and threw it on the table. He looked at me like I was a cockroach. “We don’t read trash like this.” And he pulled her away.

She went with him, not resisting.

But felt my stomach clench. I don’t know their story or circumstances–for all I know he was having a bad day and not normally like that. But I was troubled, and still am when I think about it.  It was one of those situations where I didn’t have enough information to do anything but sit there and feel helpless.

I can say this–he’d never be a hero in my book.

Funny.

Let’s end on an amusing note. I was signing with a Big Name Mystery Writer, and she was on a big book tour with a publisher-provided assistant. Her assistant was helping by handing her books to sign and little things like that. The fact that I didn’t have an assistant wasn’t a problem for me. It’s pretty easy to pull a book off the stack and open it to the correct page to sign.

But it bothered my sister who’d come with me. She jumped in and assumed the role of my assistant. I still laugh when I remember that. By the way, the Big Name Mystery Writer was very nice–the assistant was a perk she’d earned and helped her with managing all the travel and logistics. I’m not sure if they ever realized my assistant was actually my sister :-)

That’s some of my book signing stories. Feel free to share any book signing stories as an author or reader you’ve had.

8 comments to “Stories from Book Signings”

  1. Carrie
    Comment
    1
      · July 21st, 2021 at 5:58 am · Link

    No stories, but sisters ROCK! Thanks for the smile.



  2. B.E. Sanderson
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    2
      · July 21st, 2021 at 7:05 am · Link

    That’s an awesome first story and I would totally love it if a reader came to me with a tattered copy to sign. Tattered books are loved books. Alas, I don’t sell many copies, have never done a signing, and the majority of paperbacks out there in the world, I signed in front of them when I sold/gave them the book.

    Biker Witch rocks. That’s too bad about the gal whose husband was an ass. So glad you took the advice and paid attention after the stalker dude.

    My favorite ‘signing the book’ story was when I gave a copy of my first book to the gal who manages the store where I buy my cigarettes. I signed it thanking her for feeding my addiction and thus keeping me writing. And she laughed.



  3. Silver James
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    3
      · July 21st, 2021 at 8:48 am · Link

    Biker Witch is the best! I hope that one woman finally got away from her jerk of a husband. Good fans and tattered books are the best! There’ve been several incidents of stalkers at the conference signings. Scary stuff! Let me rifle through my brain for some stories…

    Awesome-sauce Big Name Author: My first conference, I went to one of the publisher signings to drop off an NRCA trophy to a big-name Romantic Suspense author we all know and love. I ended up acting as her assistant, putting stickers on her books and writing out the names on Post-Its I just happened to have in my bag so she had time to chat with her fans while signing. She’s amazing and I still count her as a good friend and a “rock” when it comes to publishing advice. ;)

    Frustrating: A local book store that has never been particularly friendly to romance decided to cash in on the “National Romance Book Day.” There were 8 authors there, including a NYT best-seller. The store did little advertising (if at all) and we drew very little interest. We all ended up buying copies of everyone else’s books so it wasn’t a total bust. Needless to say, that store never hosted another book signing for a romance author because “we failed to draw in customers.” Seriously?!?! 🤬

    “Irate” fan: I was at a small-town library doing a multi-author signing. One of the patrons marched up to my spot, grabbed one of the books and threw it down in front of me. “Sign it,” she ordered. I politely asked her name. She barked it out to me. Then she shook her mother finger at me. “It’s all your fault,” she groused. And then she turned on the librarian, who was approaching to smooth things over. “And hers!” the patron said, stabbing her finger at the librarian. “I only read contemporary romances. I read all your Red Dirt and then she mentioned you had other books in the library. Paranormal books. With wolves.” The librarian and I both nodded, looking bemused. “The wait list is too long. I had to go buy them all. Now sign the damn thing!” You can bet I did! And I gave her a “free” copy of another book. As this was a fundraiser for the library, a portion of our sales was going to their book fund. I donated all my proceeds to them, and left copies of books they didn’t have yet.

    Mostly, though, my books signings are on the boring side. But I totally love hearing about other’s experiences. Happy Hump Day!



  4. Viki S.
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    4
      · July 21st, 2021 at 2:57 pm · Link

    I love these quick stories of your trials with book signings. That must have been SO scary with the stalker creep.

    I’ve never been to a book signing.

    Give you a little update –
    1. I’m done with jury duty. It was a tough attempted murder case. There have only been two gun crimes in my county in the past 10 years and this was #2. It happened in a bar so all witnesses were drunk at the time except the defendant, victim, and the bar tender. My jury pool seemed intelligent but it took me 1 1/2 days to explain the difference between attempted murder and aggravated murder. The other 11 just couldn’t understand that aggravated murder MUST have been planned with intent to kill the victim. Every time we’d go around to vote I was the only not guilty and I’d explain the reason but they just didn’t get it. Finally they were able to comprehend the definition. Needless to say that was the only charge of 5 he got off on. He was guilty as hell of shooting this other guy.
    2. Julie went home last night. I called her today and she sounded like there had never been anything wrong and she never had super major surgery. She says she really feels good and is happy to be alive.

    I sure hope you have a fantastic afternoon!

    Oh, are you and Wizard planning anything for your birthday? Middle just text me asking about mine ;).

    Take care!



  5. Jenn
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    5
      · July 21st, 2021 at 5:22 pm · Link

    Carrie, I agree!! :-)



  6. Jenn
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    6
      · July 21st, 2021 at 5:38 pm · Link

    B.E., I’m with you–tattered books are loved books. Well said!

    Biker Witch is awesome, thanks! :-) The stalker thing happens, and I mention it now and again to remind anyone who deals with the public to be aware and listen to a voice of warning. Stalking can happen to anyone.

    Love your signing story! I also love when we can make someone else laugh.



  7. Jenn
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    7
      · July 21st, 2021 at 5:49 pm · Link

    Silver, I’ve heard a stalker stories at conferences, both romance and mystery. I’m sure some of it is that we all advertise where we’re going to be. Just being aware goes a long way.

    I think of that lady and her jerk of a husband often.

    Love your Big Name Author Story. The fact that you jumped in and helped her is awesome. I’m think I know which one it is :-)

    Sorry for the frustrating experience :-(

    Your irate fan sounds like quite a character, LOL. We have to love her for loving your books even is she’s mad she had to pay for them. Giving her a free book probably cementing her into be a fan for life!

    I’ve had the boring signings too. But we have to take the bad with the good. Happy Hump Day to you too!



  8. Jenn
    Comment
    8
      · July 21st, 2021 at 5:55 pm · Link

    Viki, yay for being done! And for doing the job few people want to do, even though it’s a duty of citizenship.

    Sounds like you had a challenge in the jury room. I’m glad it worked out the way you thought was fair. Hopefully, you’ll rest easy tonight. And I hope you’re not too store from the long days and all the driving.

    That is very good news on Julie! Her surgery sounded very complicated. But her attitude sure can help her on the road to recovery.

    No, we’re not planning anything, at least not yet. The kids all did a nice birthday for me last year. This year, Wizard’s back is making it hard on him, but we’ll see what happens. I hope you do something amazing this year, you deserve it!



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