Christine Husom, author of Murder in Winnebago County published by Second Wind Publishing, agreed to share her book-signing experience. I’m sure you’ll find it as fascinating as I do.
To my fellow writers:
I had a book launching/signing last night at the local library, hosted by the Friends of the Library. The head librarian had asked me a while ago if I would be interested — of course I would!
To prepare for the event, I ordered 100 postcards with the book cover on the front and book info, publishing info and event details on the back. I sent out a number of the cards and also put stacks of them at the library, 2 local bookstores and at our family’s downtown business. I also had posters made and hung them in a number of stores and the library. I also put a press release in the paper (free advertising!)
The turn-out for the signing was overwhelming — I thought there were between 75 and 80 people, but 3 people today told me it was closer to 100. They had 60 some chairs set up and there were a lot of people standing and some were out in the hallway — they couldn’t get in because the back was too crowded. I was surprised by the number of people I didn’t know who were there and also some people I know only casually. I guess there are a lot of people who like book signings (and/or mystery novels). I thanked them all for coming — my family, old friends, new friends and future friends.
I wasn’t sure how to conduct the signing, exactly, so I told the group we could do whatever they wanted. I told them I was at a Tami Hoag signing and she read a passage from her book, then did signings. I don’t recall her answering questions, but it is possible she did. John Sanford spoke for a while about his life and interests, then took questions for a fairly long time before the signings.
No one suggested how to proceed so I asked them if they wanted to know why I wrote the book and how I got published, etc and they did. Then I took questions. They asked things such as do I write on a laptop or with a pen and paper, do I wake up in the middle of the night and jot things down, how did I choose the title, how long did it take to write, when will my next book be out, what is the next book about, etc. Then someone asked me to read a passage. I felt a bit tongue-tied and said “Feminine” instead of “Fenneman” (my character’s name) a couple of times. But I laughed and said, “See I didn’t think I would be able to read.”
My husband said he was proud of me — he said I was poised and genuine. I was grateful I had a podium to lean into. I donated a book to the library and they gave me a nice thank you card and flowers. They served cookies and fruit and juice. Not everyone bought a book, others bought two — one for a gift. There were some couples who bought one between them, others I think will borrow the copy from the library. But I did sell about 60 and gave another 6 to some family members and the library.
There were people who wanted their picture taken with me — that was different and very cool!!!
All in all, it was a great event. I am getting books into the local bookstores and also am selling some at our store. I sold four there today — three people had heard about the signing but couldn’t make it. I am planning to go to “Once Upon a Crime” bookstore in Minneapolis and see if they might host a signing. That’s where I saw Hoag and Sanford.
I felt a little dumb signing the books — I have an illegible signature, but my daughter said I should use that instead of trying to write my name so people could read it. One person told me, “no wonder you have to type” when she read my writing — touché.
I encourage all of you to have a signing. It seems to generate excitement and interest. I was told the attendees were very engaged in what I had to say and liked being part of the fun. Sometimes you have to get out of your comfort zone. I was not quite as nervous as I would have imagined. I was with a group of people who wanted to be there, for whatever reason, and I was glad and grateful they were there!
All the best,
September 26, 2008 at 11:30 am
Chris, thank you for sharing this account of your experiences. Best of luck with your novel!
November 8, 2008 at 12:02 pm
Wonderful article. Thank you for helping me with mine. I’m going to steal some of your ideas. Hope that’s okay.
May 5, 2009 at 12:09 pm
Luckily you have a receptive friend’s of the library–and really excellent neighbors in your community! But this is a wonderful article, and super informative about the way you geared up for your “performance,” and got lots of folks down there. The postcards, the little squib in the paper, all great ideas! Mystery writers have a voracious audience, too. I’ll bet you had lots of luck in the “crime” bookstore, too! Thanks for sharing.