Saturday, June 7, 2008

My First Book Signing

My first children's novel, Fouling Out (Orca Book Publishers, 2008), has been on the market for two months. I had a successful book launch in Sechelt, British Columbia on May 1. That was a relatively controlled event with a list of invited guests. Nothing like a familiar audience to give you a false sense of importance.

A book signing is an entirely different beast. It's basically a table in a bookstore. If you're lucky, the manager puts you near the entrance. If you're really lucky, the manager will even remember that you're coming and will have the table set up. The awkward part is sitting and looking happy as people take sweeping detours to avoid anything close to eye contact. Perhaps having a book to sell (and autograph) is a greater annoyance than offering a trial newspaper subscription or having people fill out an instant credit application for a store credit card. At any rate, two hours can pass quickly. It's only one hundred twenty minutes of smiling and staring at random objects.

My book signing turned out to be better than anticipated. (Sometimes there are benefits to being a fatalist.) The site was the large Chapters store in Richmond, B.C. Since the setting of my novel is in Richmond, it only took two requests to get a manager to okay the event. I'm not sure what I'd have to do to have an event in Victoria or Seattle or Half Moon Bay, California.

Yes, I was lucky. Really lucky. A table was set up with several copies of Fouling Out nicely displayed. And they had me at the entrance--right beside the table with two guys offering newspaper subscriptions. No kidding! The guys even tried to get me to sign up, but I already receive the Vancouver Sun, thank you very much.

Thank goodness for friends! Three former colleagues were waiting for my arrival. Before the official beginning of the book signing. My fans, my groupies! Okay, just some friends will lots of other things to do on a Saturday afternoon.

For over two hours, people stopped by. Former students whose names I, thankfully, remembered. Teachers and staff members from three schools where I'd worked in Richmond. Yes, I remembered all their names, too. Friends who came by as they waited for a load to finish in the dryer cycle so they could change into something more fashionable and go somewhere else. I autographed books, exchanged hugs and handshakes and got caught up.

It was completely painless. Pleasant even. As I packed up, I realized I'd only sold one book to a complete stranger. It was a mother who stopped by with her fifth grade son. We talked about the boy's school, his reading interests and his teacher. When Mom asked if the boy wanted a copy of my book, he said no without the slightest bit of hesitation. He was here to get the second book in a fantasy series. Grrr to all those fantasy writers who can't shake off their popular characters to leave a little shelf room for the rest of us! The mother awkwardly picked up a copy of my book and asked me to sign it for the boy's teacher. At the end of the year, he'd give her the real present: chocolate. Mom would unload a copy of Fouling Out.

Hey, it's a sale.

And as part my first book signing, I'll take it.