Like most authors, I've done a few book signings over the years. When my first book--a Western historical romance--was released in 2010, I gave a talk and signed books at the historic home I'd used as a model for the heroine's house, I did a Valentine's Day signing in a gift shop in the small Missouri River town where the story was set, and I spoke to my college roommate's book club and signed books. All events were fun and I sold quite a few books, but I never did a signing in an actual bookstore until last month.
I'm sure you're all familiar with SMALL TOWN CHRISTMAS TALES, my collection of holiday short stories released in the fall of 2015. In early November of that year, I screwed up my courage and took a copy into a cute local bookstore, as well as the perennial Christmas shop on the main street of our little town. I chatted with the owners, left my contact information, and went home to wait, certain they would want to carry my book in their stores. Days and weeks passed without a word.
Christmas came and went, so I shrugged my shoulders and moved on. Imagine my surprise when I received an email out of the blue, a YEAR later, from the owner of the bookshop saying they'd like to carry my book for the holidays and schedule a signing for the weekend before Christmas! I rushed right in to The Pilgrim's Way with a few copies of SMALL TOWN CHRISTMAS TALES for their shelves and set things up for the signing. Imagine my further surprise ten days later when I received another email asking for more books because they'd already sold several. This was getting exciting!
I fired off a press release to three local newspapers, bought peppermint and milk chocolate truffles to hand out to patrons, and tried to keep the butterflies at bay. The morning of the signing, I loaded my bag with candy and ten more copies of the Christmas book, as well as three copies each of my two female bodyguard books. Wonder of wonders, the owner had lent the copy of UNWRITTEN RULES I'd left with her to a customer who is an avid reader. The woman loved the book and told her they should stock it in the store!
I was nervous at first, but as soon as things got rolling, that melted away. We live in a tourist town, so Saturday afternoons usually bring quite a bit of walk-in traffic. Talking to strangers does not come naturally to me, but I found offering candy to everyone who entered the store a perfect way to break the ice and start a conversation. A couple of local writer friends stopped by to offer moral support, and this adorable couple came all the way from Salinas to buy my book after reading about the signing in the paper!
The signing only lasted two hours, but in that time I sold eight copies of SMALL TOWN CHRISTMAS TALES, two copies of UNWRITTEN RULES, and one copy of BOILING POINT. I consider that a rousing success. The owner seemed pleased and asked me to bring more copies of the bodyguard books because she plans to keep them in stock.
I never expected to see my books on the shelf in a real bookstore, but now I'm thrilled to be able to tell anyone I meet that they can find my books at The Pilgrim's Way in downtown Carmel-by-the-Sea. What a rush!