But let me tell you about a couple of wildly successful (in my terms) signings I had this weekend. My mystery, Skeleton in a Dead Space, hot off the press, is set in a well-known neighborhood in Fort Worth. Many residents of Fairmount patronize the Old Neighborhood Grill frequently, as do I, and the Grill is mentioned often in the novel.One press considering my novel said I had to get written permission from the owner of any business mentioned--gosh, glad I didn't end up there--but I mentioned that to Peter, owner of the Grill, and he jokingly signed his name in the air. But when I told him that the novel really was going to be published, by Turquoise Morning Press, he said, "You know, we've had some successful signings here." And so it was a done deal. Peter would provide the space; everything else was up to me. Since I'm with a small publisher, I had to buy the books (at discount, of course). I sent email invitations to a long list of people, I got a cash bank, and I prepared to handle the sales--actually my granddaughter and daughter did that for me.
I had a most unusual signing Saturday: seven o'clock in the morning. But Peter said he had a lot of readers who come in early on Saturday morning with their books. So at seven my oldest son, two of my granddaughers, and I were at the Grill. Colin had gone out really early that morning and bought a beautiful bouquet, which drew attention to the table. A bit later my other son, my daughter and her husband, and two more grandchildren drifted in. It became a family party, which was great--the kids greeted some people they'd known all their lives and I got to introduce them to some who'd heard me talk about them a lot but never met them.
It's hard to get book publicity in the local paper, but that morning they published a nice feature on the bottom of the front page of the Living & Lifestyle section. Several people came because they had read the paper; some regulars at the grill bought books to take home to their wives; some people I'd never seen bought books because they saw the display. And many of my friends came. By ten o'clock, I had sold twenty-five books, and we wrapped it up.
Peter and I agreed that two signings would be good, the second Monday evening at 5:30. I didn't expect it to be as busy as Saturday morning but Jordan hustled me out the door to get there early--and there was a crowd waiting. For almost an hour, I signed books frantically, people stood in line--lots of friends, several people I'd never met before, a few from groups I'm scheduled to speak to. It was absolutely amazing. By a little before 8:00 I sold the last book I had--holding one back for myself. Between the two signings and a few independent sales, I sold 75 books if my math adds up right, and I think it does.
The Grill was a perfect place--people could come, get their book, and leave, or, as many did, come and stay to order a meal. Some were Grill regulars but others were new to the place I'm sure. So it benefited Peter--he picked up some new customers, drew some people in for meals--and it certainly benefited me. Not every author may be so lucky as to have a good relationship with a local cafe, but this worked for me.
And it didn't turn off the local booksellers. I talked to the CMR at our nearby Barnes & Noble today, and he confessed he forgot about our conversation until he saw a small ad I took in the neighborhood newspaper about the signings at the Grill. Now he's looking into a signing at B&N. And tonight one woman said her book group in the Fairmount neighborhood is interested in reading it. I asked if they'd like me to come talk, and she was amazed. "Would you?" I assured her I'd love to and she took down my contact information. It's all like ripples spreading in a pond.