Friday, May 14, 2010

How to Avoid a Book-signing Disaster

Ruthy, here, and I'm pleased to welcome Harlequin American author Leigh Duncan!!!! Thanks so much for joining us in Seekerville today! Guys, sit back, it's Friday (do I hear a resounding YAY from the studio audience????)grab some fresh coffee and donuts while you chat with Leigh about her debut novel "The Officer's Girl".

So, you’ve sold your first book and you’re ready to brave the crowds of eager fans and do a book signing. Or two. Maybe even string several appearances into a book tour. If you’re like me, you educate yourself by reading your publisher’s promotional guidelines and attending a workshop on the topic. Much to your dismay, you learn that, short of hiring a PR firm, no one sets up book tours for new authors, so you have to do all the leg work yourself.

What does that mean, exactly?

Mostly, it means you start early. Have some decent, if not expensive, publicity photos taken. Because retailers will ask for them, write a short bio and a catchy blurb about your book. Five seconds after you stop ooh-ing and aah-ing over your cover art, order book marks. Decide when and where you’d like to sign, hopefully arranging appearances in a straight line instead of back-tracking all over the country (the way I did). And, since the major book sellers require three months to arrange a signing, start lining things up ten minutes after your editor gives you a firm pub date. (Those three months include the time it’ll take to get in touch with the right manager, plus the lead time corporate offices require if they’re supplying posters or including your event in their e- or print newsletter. Surprisingly, smaller stores may want even more lead time and might ask for referrals or a connection to the local community.)

Once all your appearances are scheduled, buy some candy to entice and reward, pack your suitcase, and you’re all set to hit the road. What could possibly go wrong?

Unfortunately, a lot.

Having just completed seven book signings for The Officer’s Girl, my debut release for Harlequin American Romance, I’d like to point out a few ways your well-planned book signing can fail, and how you can save those uh-oh moments from turning into a disaster.

First up, a little problem I call, “The manager has left the building.” The scenario—a book signing with a major retailer five hundred miles from home. How was I supposed to know Manager X got the boot shortly after he scheduled my event? Fortunately, sales of The Officer’s Girl hit #1 on’s list of Harlequin American releases and, thinking he might want to order more copies, I called Manager X to share the good news. After a few disconcerting moments, I found myself talking to New Manager Y who said not only had Manager X left without ordering a single copy of my book, he hadn’t notified the corporate office of the event, or even put it on the store calendar. But that one phone call turned a disaster into a save and taught me a valuable lesson: For any book signing or appearance, double- and triple-check everything.

Next in line, “Cat Hair Eeew!”

The setting, a large book store where the sales staff had gone all out with balloons, posters, a cloth-covered table, and even candy for the candy dish. There was only one little problem: the clumps of cat hair on the tablecloth outnumbered the dandelions in my back yard. What to do, what to do. I’m open to suggestions, but I’ll tell you what I did—I sneezed.

And sneezed. And sneezed.

No, I’m not allergic to cats, but I can manage a pretty fair imitation if it means saving potential customers from hair-coated candy. And, thanks to the instructor of that book signing workshop, I had a disposable white cloth in my car. Which I spread across the table after whisking the feline-i-ous one out of sight. Disaster averted.

But what if you show up for a book signing, and your books don’t? After you get through singing, “Oh, where, oh where have my little books gone,” how do you handle this disaster-in-the-making? Well, first you smile and remain gracious. Allow the staff time to search the store from top to bottom. After all, the computer said they had 48 copies which have to be… somewhere. Keep smiling. Keep assuring everyone within hearing that “these things happen” and you’re sure it will all work out. Most of the time, it will. On those rare occasions when it doesn’t, offer to bring in that case of books you stashed in the trunk of your car, and work out a fair exchange.

When this happened at one of my book signings, a very flustered and apologetic manager offered two options. I could handle my own sales, in which case the store would receive nada. Or I could allow the store to handle the sales and replenish my supply with books they’d ship to my home. I chose Door Number 2 and sold 45 copies of The Officer’s Girl within a 2-hour window. Not only did the store replace my books within a week, but I made great friends with a staff which has asked me to return when my next Harlequin American is released in 2011. Lesson learned: Toss an extra case of books in the back of the car…and smile.

On to “Negotiation 101,” or what to do if the store wants a huge slice of your pie. Imagine showing up at the only book store in town where the manager regretfully informs you that her shipment hasn’t arrived. She asks if you can supply your own copies and, thinking about that extra case of books in the car, you agree. At which point, the manager demands a 50-50 split. Since you paid 60% of the cover price, plus shipping, to obtain the books, that stings. But what do you do?

Remember, unless you regularly hit #1 on the New York Times list, your goal on any book tour is to make friends with book sellers and get some face time with potential fans. That doesn’t mean you should lose money on every sale. Explain your costs and negotiate, hopefully in a gracious manner and well out of the sight and hearing of any book buyers.

One final word to the wise about providing candy for your guests. Buy one small bag. Seriously. Unless you’re signing with Nora Roberts, it’s your first book signing for your debut book in your home town, or you’ve hit the NYT top ten and you write YA, plan on fifty people—max—at any one book signing. Most people aren’t going to eat the chocolate. The ones who do, will take one piece. Any more than a single bag of Hershey’s kisses is going to melt in the back seat of your car or go straight to your hips.

Okay, that pretty much sums up all I wanted to say today. No, I’ve by no means covered all the ways a book signing can fail. Sometimes, no matter how well you’ve planned, no one shows up. Or one person lingers too long at the table. Or your relatives form a gauntlet that not even the most ardent fans can brave. But those are topics for another day.

In leaving, I’d like to share with you the list of things I place in my tote bag whenever I head out for a book signing:

Business cards
A clear plastic display stand holding an 8x10 color copy of my book cover
A collection of Sharpies (Or the pens of your choice. Be sure they don’t bleed through
the page.)
A roll of gold foil “Autographed Copy” stickers
A pretty candy dish
Inexpensive, disposable tablecloths
A cheat sheet listing the names, addresses, and phone numbers of every book store on the
tour, the dates and times of every event, the contact person at each stop
A copy of my book to autograph for each store manager or contact person

Those items, along with a case of books (or maybe two), are my staples for every book signing. What goes in your tote bag? Is there something I should add to mine?

Harlequin American author Leigh Duncan believes solid relationships lay the foundation for true happiness. Married to the love of her life and mother of two wonderful young adults, Leigh writes the kind of books she loves to read, ones where home, family and community are key to the happy endings everyone deserves.

Her debut book, The Officer’s Girl, is in stores now, and her second Harlequin American is slated for release in early 2011. Leigh is a long-time member of the SpacecoasT Authors of Romance (Florida STAR), the Washington Romance Writers, and a charter member of RWA’s on-line women’s fiction chapter. She coordinated the wildly successful Launching A Star contest for 4 years and, hosted the first Online Romance Reader’s Circle with Michelle Buonfiglio at When she isn’t busy writing or helping aspiring authors, Leigh enjoys curling up in her favorite chair with a cup of hot coffee and a great read. To learn more about her, visit


Keli Gwyn said...

Great suggestions, Leigh. You really show how to turn potential problems into positives. I admire your attitude.

The post is so well written. It's obvious you have a great Voice, so I have a hunch you made not only bookseller friends at your book signings but that you also went a long way toward developing a loyal readership.

Since it looks like I'm the first one here, I'll do my best to come up with a virtual treat that is worthy of Seekerville.

Hmm. Let me see. I'll start with a choice of broccoli and cheddar quiche; crepes with spinach, bacon, and mushroom filling; or blueberry oat waffles.

In case you prefer something quick and easy, I'll add selection of muffins: poppy seed, banana crumb, strawberry cinnamon oatmeal, or chocolate chocolate chip.

On the beverage table, you'll find a choice of coffees, herbal teas, and fruit juices.

OK, that totally taxed non-foodie me, so I'll let the rest of you take it from here. :D

Ruth Logan Herne said...


Oh my stars.

Woman, you did it. You really did it. You jumped out of your comfort zone and served up one of the best breakfast/brunches Seekerville has had in a long time.



Good job, Kelster! You rock!

And Leigh, I'm so glad to have you in Seekerville today! Girlfriend, tell us a little more about you, how you started writing, about Harlequin American and ...


The Call!!!!

Details!!! Details!!! Details!!!

Keli, this hazelnut creme coffee with caramel macchiato creamer is to die for. Seriously. You outdid yourself. Hugs to you for setting us up.

And doncha just love Fridays???

Lisa Jordan said...

Thanks for the great tips, Leigh. How did you decide which stores to add to your book tour? Is your book out for a month? So you really had to cram your schedule, huh? How do you handle those moments when no one comes to your table...or maybe you didn't have that problem? Anyway, thanks for sharing!

Dianna Shuford said...

Wonderful information, Leigh. I hadn't even thought that far ahead yet, but from what everyone is telling me- now is the time to begin learning about PR. So, I'm definitely printing this post out as a keeper.

But, I am one step closer. I just found out that I finaled in the Genesis-Romantic Suspense category for 2010! Very exciting.

Thanks for the breakfast ladies. My tummy appreciates you since I really hate cooking.

Janet Dean said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Leigh! Congratulations on the release of The Officer's Girl!

Thanks for the thorough informative post on handling book signings. Cat hair is one scenario, I haven't faced, but the rest... :-)

My books were on backorder for one signing but the store called me ahead of time. The manager was delighted I could bring books. It took headquarters three months to reimburse me for the cost, but I was told to expect that. Another time the wrong books were sent, but thankfully Steeple Hill/ Harlequin overnighted my books and they arrived in time.

Did you do "cold" booksignings? By that I mean, did you do signings in areas where you weren't known and wouldn't have support from friends or a tie-in with the community? If so, how did you find those signings worthwhile?

Keli, thanks for the delicious spread for breakfast! We may start calling you Chef Keli!!!


Janet Dean said...

Mega congratulations, Dianna, on the Genesis final!!! We have another friend of Seekerville on the list of finalists. Jeannie! Are there more?? And our own Pam Hillman!!! Celebrating in Seekerville!!!!!!!


TerryLynnJohnson said...

Thank you so much for posting this! I will be using all of this advice, especially loved the list of things to bring.

Julie Lessman said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Leigh, and gosh, I sure wish I'd had this article a few years back!!

I've had 14 book signings, and unfortunately, the only thing I have learned is that ... uh, I DON'T like book signings!

I've had some good experiences (like the time I sent out postcards advertising my book signing to my son's wedding list) and I've had some stinkers (where the first three people came ONLY to complain about the "sensuality" in my books!). I LOVE meeting the people, no question about that, and I'm a real anal Martha Stewart type when it comes to setting up my display (i.e. huge glossy poster of my books, basket of Boston Baked Beans (my series is called The Daughters of Boston), lace tablecloth with tall fern pot, bookmark holders and books stacked in the most artistic way I can manage), BUT ... I'm not sure it's worth the time and trouble.

I asked my publisher about the effectiveness of book signings, and their response was that they are not worth the time, effort and expense an author goes to, promotionally speaking. Yes, you meet some wonderful people and yes, you network with booksellers, but as far as sales or promotion, the effect is minimal unless you are on the NYT Bestseller list. I even remember a seminar at ACFW last year where two top Christian authors (I cannot remember names at this point, forgive me) were signing together and had not ONE person come by. I was stunned, to say the least.

I do think every author should do one or two book signings because they are a great experience, but I tend to shy away from them unless my publisher sets them up (which occasionally happens).

Leigh, I admire anybody that goes to the trouble that you do with book signings ... all I can say is you must be a natural, girl. Congratulations on your debut book -- it looks WONDERFUL!!


Julie Lessman said...

SUPER CONGRATS to Dianna, Jeannie and Pam on finaling in the Genesis ... you ladies ROCK, and we are pulling for you!!

Happy Friday, all!


Leigh Duncan said...

Keli, So great to see you here! I enjoyed my visit at Romance Writers on the Journey so very much and will be cheering for you at the Golden Heart awards this year.

Thanks for the virtural treats -- they're fantastic! I feel like I've gained 5 pounds...which, since I'm always on a diet, is a big no-no. LOL

So glad you liked the post!

Debra E Marvin said...

Loved your post, Leigh. A List! I love lists! I might even get over my extreme Introverted personality to sell my books...well, you know...after I actually submit something.

May I also say Leigh, my first words in Seekerville were, she's so pretty!

Keli- wow. The Food! I don't know where to start.

Congrats to Pam--I got an extra delight out of seeing your name-- and all the finalists! I'm shouting out my Inkwell sisters - Lisa K Richardson who double finaled, and Susanne Dietze. We're Snoopy dancing and whooping it up over in Inktropolis!

Love this post. Have a great weekend all!

Jessica Nelson said...

Awesome post!!! I'm going to have to remember this for someday when I get pubbed. *grin*

I have to disagree with you on one point though. I'm qualified don't worry. The thing is, ONE bag of chocolate? I have to replenish myself ya know. Heeeheee!

I'm mostly kidding. There will be extra chocolate for moi, but I won't eat it in front of readers. *grin*

Thanks so much for these awesome tips!

Ruth Logan Herne said...







Teri Dawn Smith said...

The thought of a book signing where no one turns up scares me silly. But some great tips today if the contract ever happens.

I'm a daily reader and occasional commenter on Seekerville, especially after meeting Mary down here. I also got "the call" about Genesis yesterday. Even more exciting to me was that one of my students also got the call! She's only 19 so I'm like a proud mama.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Lisa, Suzanne and Jeannie!





And can I give a total 'love you, girl' shout out to the Camster, Ms. Camelot herself, Camy Tang the wonderful Genesis Coordinator.

Awesome job, as usual. Congrats to you for the fine judges (smirk, smirk) and the overall great combined effort you draw from people.

The Genesis is a great contest and totally worthy to spend money on.

Another round of CONGRATS!!!! from WNY where that coffee's tastin' mighty good right now, Kelster.

'Preciate it. ;)

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Teri Dawn, girlfriend!!!!

YAY YOU!!!!!!






The Call.

Allegorical Computation.

(I added that last to see if you were paying attention.)

We're so proud of all you guys!!!!

Who's got champagne?? I happen to know that there were NO easy categories in this contest. None. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

Come forth, oh finalists, and let us celebrate with you!!!

Hey, I brought ice cream cake for the party. Layered with fudge and peanuts and caramel.

Then a raspberry/lemon cake ice cream cake which is (I admit) to die for.

Step right up, I'll be happy to serve you!!!

Genesis finalists first, please.

If you didn't final...

Do Not Give Up...

The only way you truly LOSE is if you don't ENTER...

Melanie Dickerson said...

Thank you so much, Leigh, for this helpful post! I am 3 1/2 months away from the release of my debut book and you have answered a lot of my questions. Thank you!!!!!

I was LOL at the cat hair covered tablecloth! And your fake sneezes! HA!

So, we should give the store manager/contact person an autographed copy? I hadn't thought about doing that.

I have a question for you. In my area--the two towns I frequent--there are several book stores, including two Christian book stores that are practically side by side, three Books-a-Million, and a Barnes & Noble. How many book signings should I set up here in my home area, and how close together, calendar wise, should they be?

Leigh Duncan said...

Ruth, anyone who knows me well will tell you I'm allll about the coffee. Let me pour myself a cup and get comfy. There. Now, about "the call."

Well, I'd been waiting for "the call" for so long that my RWA chapter had awarded me the gold medal in patience, but even a saint runs out of patience, eventually. And I'd reached the point where I thought the editors at Harlequin were simply being "nice" by not rejecting my manuscript outright. So, I turned to my critique partners who--thank goodness--still had faith in "The Officer's Girl." They told me to query it as a single title and get ready for some major re-writes. That was on a Thursday afternoon, and something about that conversation must have put the world on notice 'cause Friday morning, I was headed out the door to the Post Office with five query letters in my hand when the phone rang. I glanced at the Caller ID and saw "Harlequin Ent" on the screen, and I knew. I just knew! And started bawling. It's a wonder my editor, Laura Barth, could even understand my sobbing, "Hello." By the time we finished our conversation, which was her first chance to call a newbie author with the good news, we were both crying.

Melanie Dickerson said...

I love your "Call" story! How sweet!!!

Cara Lynn James said...

This is a timely post for me since my first book will be on bookstore shelves in a few weeks. (Hard to believe!) Your information is so helpful!!! Thanks. And welcome to Seekerville, Leigh.

Leigh Duncan said...

Lisa, good questions! Let's see if I can answer them...

How did I decide which book stores?
Well, my local Barnes & Noble was a given. The Community Rep there, Kaori, is SUCH a doll, and she's always an ardent supporter of romance authors.

I've attended the Washington Romance Writers retreat for years. That event kicks off with a book signing at Turn the Page with Nora Roberts and retreat attendees (this year that impressive list included Charlaine Harris and Roxanne St. Claire). I was so well and truly blessed by being included among this year's group of signers that it didn't matter if I sold a book. (I did though. Quite a few, actually.) That whole experience was amazing!

Other than that, my sister has always dreamt of the day when she and I would embark on my first book tour. Now, as we all know, publishers don't invest in book tours for debut category authors, but that wasn't stopping my sister! No sir! She lined up appearances across Florida and Southern Alabama--wherever we had family--and we hit the road. We sold a lot of books and had a blast!

How to handle it when no one comes to your table? That's a tough one. At one book store, I wandered the shelves handing out book marks. Mostly, I sit and smile and offer candy and book marks. I enjoy talking with people, whether they buy a copy of my book or not.

And yes, Harlequin American titles are only on the book shelves for 4-6 weeks, but you can order the book from on-line stores and for a year. The electronic version remains available indefinitely.

Leigh Duncan said...

Fabulous news about your contest final! I've coordinated the Launching A Star contest for the past 4 years, and I'm a firm believer in the value contest wins, finals...and, especially, feedback.

Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

Wow, Leigh, great post and great suggestions. Doesn't make it less terrifying but does make it all sound manageable.

Love the cover of your book. I read American's regularly. They are good reads!!!

Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

Keli made breakfast??????


I love when we get our recruits trained. AWESOME DUDETTE!!!


Pepper Basham said...

What a great post - and so informative. Thanks. I didn't even consider all that went into a book signing.
I'm sure it's a good idea to think on these thinks before you actually have a book out there, so you'll use the old scout motto and 'always be prepared'.

Thanks, Leigh.
And the cat-hair. Eeeww. Not quite the image you were going for with that hunk on the cover of your book, eh? LOL


Leigh Duncan said...

Janet, that breakfast spread was so amazing, I might go back for seconds!

Cold signings are rough. I've helped out at book signings for NYT best-selling authors who were visiting my home town and seen first-hand that the turn-out can be, shall we say, disappointing? And this past weekend, I participated in a multi-author signing two hour's drive from home where there were more employees in the store than there were customers.
The way I look at it, if I make a good contact with one person who likes my book, who knows how many people she'll tell about this brand new author she's discovered?
One thing about me that's changed since I embarked on my own book signings--now, I never walk by someone else's book signing without at least stopping to say hello and wishing them well.

Leigh Duncan said...

Glad I could help out! Keep that list handy and if you think of anything to add to it, let me know. :)

Leigh Duncan said...

You're not alone. I've spoken to a number of authors who adamently refuse to do book signings. We all wish our signings were like the scenes from "Castle," don't we?

Hmmmm, your son's wedding invitation list...My son married the love of his life last fall. Why didn't I think of that?
I think you've hit the proverbial nail on the head though--advertising is critical if you're going to sell books. The major retailers put notices in their newsletters, provide posters and displays. For smaller venues, I did up my own fliers using Powerpoint and card stock & sent them to people I knew would help spread the word.

All I can say is, let me know when and where your next booksigning is and, if it's within 100 miles of where I am, I'll come. I'll chat. I'll even buy a book. :)

Karen Witemeyer said...


This post could not have come at a better time for me. I'm scheduled to have my first book signing for my debut novel, A Tailor-Made Bride, tomorrow at a local store. Thanks to your wise advice, I called the manager to double check everything. He only received 20 copies of my book instead of the expected 50, so I immediately offered to bring extra copies to have on hand in the car. He was open to the idea of him selling the copies as usual and then replenishing my supply, should the need arise. I'm hoping the need arises. LOL.

Thanks again for the helpful advice!

Leigh Duncan said...

Aw, I'm blushing. You're so sweet!

Lots of congrats going out to the Seekerville gals on their contest finals -- yay!

Get that manuscript polished and send it out, Debra. We're all pulling for you.

Leigh Duncan said...

Of course, there's always that little baggie of chocolate in my purse.
Thanks for dropping in and saying, "hi." Best of luck to you on your own publishing adventure!

Leigh Duncan said...

Congrats on the sale and the much anticipated release of your debut book! Yippee!
I did give the manager/rep at each store a copy of "The Officer's Girl." However, I tend to give thank-you gifts for the smallest occasions, and I've been told that, just maybe, I give too much. So let's turn this question over to some of the more experienced authors--do you give a signed copy of your book to your store host?

Leigh Duncan said...

Melanie, part 2--how many local book signings?
I live in a county that's about 80 miles long and fairly narrow. We have a population of nearly 500K. Even though "The Officer's Girl" was on sale in at least 3 other major retail chains, as well as at quite a few discount stores, I only held one book signing in my county. A number of factors went into that decision. One issue was that I didn't want to hold a book signing that would dilute the one at my fav book store. Another was that the competing chain wasn't as romance-friendly. But mostly, it boiled down to the fact that Harlequin Americans are on the shelf for such a limited time that I simply couldn't fit another book signing in if I'd wanted to.

Leigh Duncan said...

I'll keep my fingers crossed that you get "the call" soon. And I highly recommend that you help out with other authors' book signings. If nothing else, sit and keep them company during the lulls (there are always lulls). It's a great way to prepare for your own book signing.
And congrats on the final, for you and your student.

Leigh Duncan said...

Cara Lynn,
Major congrats on the sale and impending release of your book! I hope some of the info you heard here today will help you in planning your own book signings.

Mary Connealy said...

One thing I do is, I do NOT sit down. Almost never. I act as a greeter at the front door.

Every SINGLE PERSON who comes in I personally walk up to and say, "Hi, would you like a bookmark?" (or, I print up this little recipe book I call Faster than Fast Food and offer it to them-hint, they often think I wrote a cookbook, but that just gives you more to say)
"Hi, would you like a bookmark? I'm doing a book signing here today. I write romantic comedy with cowboys."
I dole these sentences out one at a time, seeing if the person I'm assaulting...uh...I mean greeting...wishes I'd bug off, is frightened by me, or wants to visit.
I quit the instant I get a bad vibe. I swear I do. I don't like to watch if they run away screaming.
"Hi, would you like a bookmark? How about a cookbook? Do you do a lot of cooking? (half the time they say no. Then I say, "You know, I don't do much anymore either, but this are some fast easy recipes that my own kids love.) They take the book mark or recipe book, then I say, "I'm doing a book signing here today. I write romantic comedy with cowboys. Or Romance Novels or Christian romance novels." I'm trying to assess if I'm bugging them.
"Do you read Christian fiction?"
if they say no, I say, "You know, my mom doesn't either. She finds inspiration in non-fiction."
If they say Yes, I say, "Who do you read? Do you have favorite authors?"
They inevitably say either Karen Kingbury or Beverly Lewis. Once in a while I get something else. :)
I have an answer for both of those.
This very often leads to NOTHING and they go away.
If there are cookies or coffee, I say, "We've got cookies and coffee if you'd like to get something while you browse."

I almost NEVER say, "You wanna buy a book?" That's just not what it's about. I also try and get to the store really early and browse around myself because a lot of times people will ask me questions, "Do you sell Sunday School material? Do you have the latest Third Day CD?"
I answer this questions if I can, if not I point them toward customer service.

Final hint. Wear comfortable shoes if you're going to stand for two hours.

Leigh Duncan said...

Tina, hi! Glad you like the cover of "The Officer's Girl!" I love it, too. Who can resist a guy in uniform who isn't afraid to use a pair of handcuffs?

Leigh Duncan said...

Thanks for stopping by this morning. Don't forget to help yourself to the yummy virtual breakfast Keli provided. I'm quite certain she made sure it's cat hair-free.

Leigh Duncan said...

Yay, Karen! If I "saved" one book signing from disaster today, I've done my job. :) Congrats on the release of "A Tailor Made Bride." Have you talked about it at Seekerville before? Can you tell us a little bit about it now?

Leigh Duncan said...

I bet your book signings are fabulous! What a great idea--to greet customers at the door. I stood at the door handing out book marks at a book signing for my good friend Maria Geraci, and it worked out very, very well. And you're right about the comfy shoes. Great advice!

Melanie Dickerson said...

Thanks for the information, Leigh! I think maybe I will try to have one book signing at a secular store and one at a Christian book store. And maybe a book launch party as well. The librarians I befriended (pestered might be a more accurate word) at our public library have asked me to do an "event" there, although I'm not quite sure what they mean by "event."

Julie Lessman said...

Leigh ... what a sweetheart you are! And I will do the same for you if you have a book signing within 100 miles of St. Louis, my friend. I won't be having one until Sept. when my next book comes out, but if you are in the vicinity of St. Loo, do shoot me an e-mail, okay?


Leigh Duncan said...

Hey everyone, I have to duck away for a little while. Hubby is heading out on a fly fishing trip in the morning, and I must get the oil changed in his car, since I'm seriously looking forward to a week of uninterupted writing while he's gone. But I'll be back in a couple of hours. Maybe we can chat a little about my next Harlequin American, which just happens to involve fly fishing.
Till then, enjoy the breakfast feast. (Hey, do we do lunch?)

Regina Merrick said...

Book signings can be a fickle business, can't they? As a librarian, we host book signings for local authors, and authors with ties to the community. One of your fellow Harlequin American authors, Trish Milburn, had a signing and speaking event for her first book, and it was standing room only! The next time there were less than half that many for just a signing. Of course libraries don't get the traffic that a busy bookstore does on a weekend.

One of the best author events we've hosted was a "Meet the Authors" event in which we had nine authors of various fiction and non-fiction work, from within about a 50-mile radius of our community in Western KY. We had everything from a memoir of a medic at D-Day to a vampire romance novel! They all carried on a panel discussion that kept the audience enthralled for two solid hours without a break - then we had a signing event. Probably not much by way of sales, but the PR was great. I think people expect, at a library, to glean some knowledge in addition to gaining a book.

Thanks for sharing today! The blog AND the goodies! :)

Dianna Shuford said...

Leigh, it's been great reading your responses.

Ruth- this is a mega-licious party. Ice cream cake with fudge and peanuts and caramel? Not passing that up, uh-uh, no way.

Congrats to all the other seekerville friends and bloggers. It's always fun being in good company.

Rachel Hauck said...

Yay Leigh! So glad you're here on Seekerville!

Love, Rachel

Kav said...

Leigh, your book looks fabulous and I'll definitely pick it up and that's because I've been 'introduced' to you here on seekerville. Personally, I think authors probably make more sales on blogs then they do in person in a bookstore. I go out of my way to buy the books of the authors I 'meet' in cyberspace because I get a feel for their personality and writing style and I can tell if it will fit my reading preferences.

I honestly haven't seen a single signing in any of the bookstores in my area -- I'm in Canada. I wonder if it's more of a US thing. I don't think there would be a good show for romance authors at a book signing here. Sigh.

I wanted to ask if the cost of that kind of promotional tour is worth it? Does your publisher pay? Or does it come out of your pocket?

Kav said...

Cara Lynn James said : "This is a timely post for me since my first book will be on bookstore shelves in a few weeks." Yoohooo -- Cara -- your book is on the bookshelves on my Christian bookstore and it is promientently displayed in the new books area. I bought one...and I've already read it! LOVED IT!!!!

Myra Johnson said...

What great advice here, Leigh! So glad you came to share your book signing experiences with our Seekerville friends!

My debut novel came out last September, and it really has been a learning experience. The very best book signing I had was actually set up by my FORMER chiropractor in the city we'd moved away from over three years prior. She had me send her some promotional materials ahead of time and made sure ALL her patients knew I'd be coming. I brought about 50 books and sold over 40. It was amazing!

Two days later in the same city I had a "cold signing" in a large bookstore across town. I signed only 3 copies, as I recall, and I think 2 of them were for bookstore staff.

I definitely need to cultivate some of Mary's "greet the potential reader" techniques. I've watched other authors do this quite effectively, but I am SO not good at speaking with strangers.

Teri Dawn Smith said...

Yep, I can vouch for Mary. She did just as she said when I met her at a book signing way down here at the border. She was the very friendly Mary we all know and love.

And since you said I should give a shout out for my student, her name is Angela Bell. She also met Mary because I took my students and Mary to dinner. We had a ball.

Mary wore a pumpkin colored jacket. : )

(I thought you all needed that detail.)

Leigh Duncan said...

An "event" at a library in our area usually implies a short talk, followed by the opportunity to sell copies of your book. But check with your librarians to make sure that's what they're thinking, too. If you do give a talk, I'll share with you the same advice more experienced authors shared with me -- writers come to these events hoping to receive a little inspiration to go forth and do likewise; readers hope to learn the story-behind-the-story. Whatever you say, keep it upbeat and cheery for the best results.

Leigh Duncan said...

St. Louis is a pretty piece from Central Florida, but what's the name of your book? And are you publishing under your signature or do you have a pseudonym? I'll look for it on Amazon.

Leigh Duncan said...

That sounds like a terrific event...and one Melanie might be interested in hearing more about. Melanie, are you reading this?

Trish Milburn is a fabulous author. LOVE her work. I have one of her books sitting on the top of my TBR pile right now.

Melanie Dickerson said...

Oh, thanks, Leigh. :-) I guess I do need to check with my librarians soon.

I meant to ask you where you did your booksignings in south Alabama. I grew up in L.A. (Lower Alabama) in Harper Lee country, 70 miles south of Montgomery.

Leigh Duncan said...

Doesn't that dessert sound divine? So glad you could join the party at Seekerville today!

Leigh Duncan said...

Rachel! What's new? I hear you've been busy, busy, busy lately. When do we get to see your next book?

Leigh Duncan said...

Chuckle. Chuckle. Chuckle. Surely you jest. Publishers pay for a book tour? Not for newbie authors of category romance. I'm not sure at what point a publisher might offer a budget for travel and promo--anyone want to chime in on that one?--but for now, it's all out of pocket expense for me.

Wow! No book signings in Canada? Are they really a US custom?

Mary Connealy said...

Thanks, Teri.

I can attest to the pumpkin resemblence.

And Teri??????
Can we get Angela to come and say HI? I'm so excited for her finalling in the Genesis.

YAY. We've got a few youngsters hanging around Seekerville.

Of course, to me, everyone's a youngster.

Leigh Duncan said...

Well, I was right in the middle of responding to comments while cooling my heels at the car dealership when the battery on my laptop died. Then, I got stuck in unbelievable traffic on the way home 'cause -- guess what? -- it's Launch Day! Around here, a shuttle launch is cause for major celebration and especially today's as it's the final launch of Atlantis. But at 10 minutes to lift-off, stuck on a main road headed toward the beach (where the best viewing sites are) is not the place to be. The upside was that I got to see the launch...and it was beautiful!

Leigh Duncan said...

Friends like your former chiropractor are worth their weight in books. :)
One thing that helps me get over my fears of meeting-and-greeting is to pretend I'm someone else...someone like the head of Human Resources in a company called Space Tech. I ask myself how Stephanie would handle the situation (for anyone who hasn't read "The Officer's Girl" the heroine, Stephane, is head of HR at Space Tech), and that way I get to meet lots of people while trying on her personna.

Leigh Duncan said...

Of course, I should add that I don't introduce myself as "Stephanie." LOL

Leigh Duncan said...

Hmmmm, speaking of we do dinner at Seekerville? Maybe we could have pumpkin pie with whippped cream for dessert.

Leigh Duncan said...

I spent practically every summer in Stanley which, I think, is now considered part of Andalusia. Opp and Red Oak, Florala and Defuniak Springs are close by.

Andalusia is still such a small town that it doesn't have a "real" book store, so I held my signing at a marvelous bakery/cafe on the square. The place is appropriately named Sugar Rush, and if you ever go there, tell Jason I said, "Hi!". If he baked them that day, order a cinnamon bun. They will send your mouth to heaven. If he's out of cinnamon buns, I highly recommend the turtle cheesecake. (But please, don't tell anyone I broke my diet, okay?)

lisa said...

You are the epitome of professionalism so I have no doubt of your continued success. I am going to print your words of wisdom and put THAT in my tote bag!
p.s. as a real life officer's girl, where did you get your inspiration for the book subject, just out of curiosity?

Leigh Duncan said...

What sweet words!
As for the inspiration for "The Officer's Girl," two things:

First, when I was a kid growing up in Central Florida, everyone called the beaches exactly that--Cocoa Beach, Melbourne Beach, etc. But sometime after I got married, traveled around a bit, and before I returned, the nomenclature changed. So, when the evacuation orders were posted for the "barrier islands" shortly after we moved to our home in Satellite Beach, I called Dear Hubby at work and asked where, exactly, were these islands off the coast of Florida. He dryly pointed that I was standing on a barrier island and I should start packing. Which I did, and after we returned "home," we put our house on the market and moved to the slightly safer mainlaind.

As for Brett, my hunky policeman, I talked to a lot of people in law enforcement, did a lot of reading, and let my very active imagination fill in te rest.

Melanie Dickerson said...

You have GOT to be kidding me, Leigh!!! I went to junior college in Andalusia! It's practically my home town! My brother works there, I have family living there, and lots of friends. It is such a small world, girl!!!

I'm excited.

I went to high school in McKenzie (which is much smaller even than Andalusia) but I lived in Covington County. My maiden name is Lee.

Leigh Duncan said...

Small, small world! We should talk sometime. Are you going to RWA National in July? Maybe we can get together for coffee.

Melanie Dickerson said...

That would be fun, Leigh! Unfortunately, I'm not going to make it to the RWA conference. I could have easily driven to Nashville to see people, but Orlando is too far. And I'm going to the ACFW conference in Sept, so I can't afford both! But we will definitely have to connect some time!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Oh my gosh, what a lovely bunch of guests, visitors and the occasional somewhat strange person!!!!

We love diversity in Seekerville. That's why we let Mary stay.

Leigh, you're doin' super duper wonderful and I'm totally looking forward to pumpkin pie and whipped cream for dessert.

For supper we're doing Philly cheese steaks on garlic-grilled Italian rolls with peppers, onions and mushrooms if you wish....

Curly fries, too.

I love cyber food. It 'feeds' my imagination!

Dig in, guys, and hey, if someone could grab some vanilla ice cream for the pumpkin pie, I'd be grateful. I don't have time to swing by the store and it's gettin' on supper time in the Midwest and Mountain states.

I love living in a country so big that it's got 17 time zones.

But only one REAL time zone, right, Connealy???

And that would be Eastern.


Where we do everything in a New York minute.

Renee said...

Leigh, great advice. It sounds like you took it all in stride and stayed calm. I never would have thought to bring my own books (not that I have any).

Do you lay out your swag for all to take or do you only give them to people who purchase books?

Leigh Duncan said...

Thanks for ordering in supper. It is getting to be that time, isn't it?
I've sure had a great time chatting with everyone today. You've made me feel most welcome. A little plumper, with all that food, but quite welcome.

Leigh Duncan said...

Swag? I love that word! I don't have a whole lot of swag--just candy and book marks--but as you can see in the photo in the column, I set it all out there for people to help themselves. No one's ever hogged the candy.

BTW, the very Southern lady standing to my right in the picture is my dear, dear aunt, the last living member of my father's immediate family. And the handsome dude beside me is my terrific son. Isn't he a cutie? (Sorry gals, I know you're all sweeties, but the sweetest girl in the world has already snagged his heart.)

Missy Tippens said...

I'm sorry to join in so late once again. But I loved this post! Thank you, Leigh! Great suggestions.

And thanks for hanging out with us today!

Missy Tippens said...

Oh, look at all the Genesis finalists we have hanging out here! Congrats to all of you!

ArkansasCyndi said...

Great tips, Leigh! So thrilled that your first book sold so well.

Leigh Duncan said...

Missy, thanks for chiming in!

ArkansasCyndi, thanks for dropping by today, Cyndi! Great to hear from you.

Everyone has made me feel so welcome here at Seekerville! Thanks, everybody, for dropping by to chat. Thanks, too, for all the cyber goodies. Yum!
I'm going to toss the names of everyone who commented into a my fav tote bag (it's pink and black with flowers and the cutest little clasp) and have Dear Hubby draw the name of the person lucky enough to win a copy of "The Officer's Girl." Hope you'll check back in to see who won. :)

Pam Hillman said...

I read part of this post yesterday, but got totally side-tracked with a busy day at work (and family night out) and didn't get back to it last night.

But I made a note to finihs reading it because it was so good!

Thanks Leigh. I'm nowhere near a booksigning, but your tips are keepers.

Kristen Painter said...

Awesome, awesome post. Must make notes. ;o)

Kathleen L. Maher said...

ack! I hope I'm not too late to say hi to Leigh and thank her for her hard work in the STAR contest.
This was a wonderful post, and I hope to be able to take your advice some day. Congrats on your release. Love the cover. :)

KC Frantzen said...

Congratulations all winners and call-ees. Wonderful news. I'm sooooo late to the party.

Had a question on bookmarks. Are they really effective? I don't know how much they are to print and I wonder if anyone has tracked sales to bookmarks?

Mary - do you have contact information in your cookbooks? I LOVE that idea. Something that people will use and keep and share. That would seem to me more effective than bookmarks.

I'm new to this so I've probably tromped all over toes here.

Chalk it up to lateness of the hour and sleep deprivation. :)

Wonderful interview! Thanks much for your great ideas and help.

Angela Bell said...

Hey everyone!

Miss Teri passed along Mrs. Connealy's invitation to come say HI, so here I am. I'm VERY excited that both Miss Teri and I finaled in the Genesis. I'm still in shock about the whole thing. I never EVER expected to final. I can't wait to attend the ACFW conference in September!

Before I close, I have to give a shout out to Miss Teri. I couldn't have gotten this far without her. Thanks Miss Teri! :)

Leigh Duncan said...

Pam, Kristen, Kathleen and KC, Hey! Just wanted to let you know I read--and appreciate--your comments!

And, KC, I find book marks to be a very effective marketing tool. When sitting at a book signing where traffic is slow, I often entice people to my table by offering them a book mark. (Much better than hollering, "Hey! Wanna buy my book?") 99.9% of passers-by take me up on the offer, and many of those wind up buying a copy of the book. Either way, they don't go away empty handed.

Email me at and I'll give you specifics a couple of alternatives for having them made.