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.
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.
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.
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.
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.