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Sunday, September 21, 2014
A Book Signing to Remember By Sandy Semerad
As husband Larry and
I drove from Santa Rosa Beach to my book signing at the BAM store in Destin,
Florida, I had a flashback.
Many readers would
be honored to buy his books and have him autograph them, I thought. But
apparently that wasn’t the case at a Walmart store, according to what Crais told a
group at Sleuthfest, where he was the keynote speaker.
hawked his books and tried to engage customers, he said. He’s say stuff like, “Do you
like detective fiction. Do you like mysteries?”
One man replied, “No,”
and then asked Crais to help him find the fishing gear, he said.
I pushed that memory
out of my head and told myself, my book signing would be successful. I was
determined. I believed in my book, my baby, and I wanted
everyone to read A Message in the Roses.
Larry and I arrived about 30 minutes early. I
placed six blue pens on the table beside a stack of my books. I was determined
not to run out of ink.
We put the bookmarks and an address book on the
table and placed my poster on an easel. Luckily, the store positioned me near the front door. Before long, a potential customer
Larry went into action. He sounded like a carnival
barker, “This is your lucky day,” he shouted. “Author Sandy Semerad is autographing
her critically acclaimed book, A Message
in the Roses.”
As he led this unsuspecting and somewhat
stunned woman toward me, I asked her, “Do you like romantic thrillers?”
“I prefer nonfiction,” she said.
“Well, then, you might enjoy A Message in the Roses,” I said,
motioning, in Vanna White fashion, toward the stack of books. “It’s loosely
based on a murder trial I covered as a newspaper reporter in Atlanta.”
I handed her a bookmark. She glanced at it and
then picked up one of my books.
We began a conversation. I asked her to sign my
address book and said, “I’d be happy to autograph a copy of my book for you.”
And so it went.
With other signings, I’d learned to autograph
on the title page, and I knew I darn sure needed to ask each person how to spell
his or her name.
I'd also learned to ask, “How should I autograph this?”
Most people respond with, “Write whatever you
want.” But I think it's important to write something personal, and it's easier to do that if you've shared conversation.
I’ve been told it’s best to have a person write
out instructions to the author on what to say. I’m sure that’s good advice, but
I didn’t do that.
After I signed the books, Larry snapped our photos.
That is, if they agreed to have their picture taken. If they did, I later e-mailed
the photos to them, and tagged their names after posting on Facebook.
Everyone at BAM was supportive. One of the
employees, with the voice of a broadcaster, kept announcing, “Author Sandy
Semerad is in our store signing her latest book A Message in the Roses.” She added blurbs about my book to entice
customers. I complimented her later.
Should I have written my own announcement? Perhaps, but luckily, she did a superb job.
After the signing, I got the store’s approval
to autograph the remaining copies that didn’t sell. I’m hoping they’ll display
them, prominently, with the bookmarks I left behind. Maybe they’ll place an “autographed
copy” sticker on them. Did I mention I’m a hopeful optimist?
I thanked the BAM employees and a couple of days later, I called to thank them again. As an afterthought, I sent a photo taken
with the staff to the BAM marketing site with a brief e-mail about the signing.
Maybe I should send a snail mail letter to the store and include more bookmarks. I
want them to remember my books and keep promoting them.
Weeks before I started trying to arrange book signings, I asked
Michelle Lee to design my bookmarks. These were helpful in getting the
signings in the first place, I think. (I gave a copy of the bookmark with a press release
and a list of distributors to the managers of two books store and asked them to order my books.)
I downloaded the bookmark to Printing for Less.
I should have ordered more than 500. I’m almost out. I’ve been distributing
them like crazy.
For the signing, I knew I’d need a poster. So PFL
created one on foam board, not cheap, but sturdy. It looked sharp on the easel,
I thought. The poster has my book covers and a promo blurb under each and my photo.
The poster arrived in time, but not the postcards,
I'd ordered. I should have ordered them a month before. They came the week of my
signing, and I was working out of town. My poor husband distributed them as
best he could.
Two weeks prior, after I checked to make sure
the BAM store had the books, I e-mailed a press release to local newspapers. I also
created an event on Facebook and other sites and invited everyone.
There were a few things I wish I’d done.
should have placed a copy of my book with bookmarks at the cash registers. I should have asked Larry to hand out book
marks and a copy of my book to customers we didn’t catch at the door. I was too
busy hustling those who came in to do that myself.
And maybe I should have placed a bowl of chocolate
candy on my table or held a drawing to win a gift, perhaps a free book. I’m
thinking I might do these things at my next one, which is Saturday, Sept. 27,
at the Destin, Florida Barnes and Noble.
lady from B&N has already called to say my books are in. Wish me luck. I wish you could come by and spread the love. #booksigning #AMessageintheRoses www.sandysemerad.com