Monday, August 10, 2009

Where the Wind Blows . . .

I met Caroline Fyffe in DC at RWA Nationals this summer and she impressed me so much. She's as bubbly and happy a person as you'd ever want to meet. Her debut title WHERE THE WIND BLOWS is out right now. Her enthusiasm reminded me how exciting that first book is. And along with that first title there are lots of other firsts. Today she's sharing about her first book signing. So you can keep us straight, my words today will be in Bold face and Caroline's in regular type.

Book Signings! Friend or Foe?

My very first, all-alone, book signing was so much more than I expected---which was a relief because it started out as rocky as they come. I’d been working with the wonderful Stockton Barnes & Nobel for several months and had pestered poor Lee almost every week. Being a debut author, I really didn’t have a clue how these things worked, but he walked me through the process calmly and patiently. As my date arrived, I tried to be composed. I just decided not to think about it until that day arrived. (I was signing from 7-9 PM.) Around three in the afternoon, there was a number on my cell I didn’t recognize and promptly returned the call. It was Lee. The books hadn’t arrived. Would I like to come and do a meet and greet? Not really! What would I talk about especially since I didn’t have the books in hand? We’d just reschedule.

Okay, that was that. Actually, I was more than relieved. Around five, I got another call. You guessed it, the books HAD arrived so I pulled myself together and headed over! I took my laptop so I could play my book preview, and a bag of Lindor Truffles to entice possible readers over. I arrived early and set everything up. I waited.

It wasn’t long before I saw a familiar face. A friend had checked my web page and brought a few friends along with her. More people than I imagined came over and talked. It was great. Almost all, after a few moments of conversation, bought my book. I felt triumphant!!

Here are a couple of pictures from that night….

I’m totally thrilled that my Lonesome Dove meets Little House on the Prairie story, Where the Wind Blows, is really finally here. I’m giving away a copy to someone who leaves me a comment. (Emily popping in for a moment! Did you get that? You could win a copy of Caroline's book just by leaving a comment or question for us here today!) Also, please visit my website at to see how to enter my contest, Under a Western Sky, for your chance to win an overnight stay in a bunkhouse. And, while you’re there, take the time to sign up for my ‘announce only’ newsletter. On the last day of every month I will be giving away a free book!

For all the authors out there, I’d like to ask you what your ‘first’ book signing was like? Or, on the other hand, if you’re a reader, what helps to pull you over to a table where an author is signing? Is there something that actually turns you away?


Heather D said...

Good morning Emily and Caroline.

I haven't been to a book signing yet. I live in a small town north of Atlanta, and I don't even have bookstore in town. Unless I drive in to see my husband for lunch or need something from the Mall, I do all my book shopping online or at Wal-Mart. I recently signed up for updates from one publisher to find out when there would be book signings in my area, but it has not panned out very well.

I have seen one author sitting at a table with his book on display. I felt kind of bad for him, I didn't see anyone stopping to talk to him. It was a book on American History (I believe). I had already pushed my 6 yr old to the limit of his good behavior or I would have stopped and talked to him.

Are you nervous for all of your book signings?

EmilyBryan said...

Of course, we're writers. We worry about everything! LOL!

There is a delicate balance between being accessible and being pushy. Do I stand and greet people or remain seated and silent?

My first signing was as part of the mass signing at RT in Daytona (back in 2006!) and I was terrified I wouldn't sell a single copy of MAIDENSONG. To my surprise, I sold lots! And every time a reader picked up my book and decided to take it, cold chills ran all over my body! It seemed like a minor miracle that someone wanted to read my book!

Caroline said...

Good morning, Heather! Thanks for stopping by and sharing. Good morning, Emily. Thank you so much for having me!!

For me, and I'll talk about the two I've done on my own and not the big signing in DC with the hundreds of other authors because that is a totally different animal, they were really fun. I told myself to be prepared to sit---not sell.

I had my book trailer playing which gave me some music (My favorite) and then when anyone came in I said, "May I give you a card," and handed him or her my postcard. Along with that I just said it was a Lonesome Dove meets Little House on the Prairie story.

Both times I was shocked how friendly everyone was. Only one lady didn't take the card. Some bought right away, some walked around and came back, some just chatted and wished me luck.

And the booksellers kept me laughing. All very fun!!

Caroline said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Caroline said...

Forgive me for deleting that last post. It was mine and it said people want to ream instead of read my book! While that may be true, I still felt compelled to fix the three typos. LOL
Here it’s just after 5:30am my time so I’m off to get my coffee…

Here is the intended post...

Emily, same as you, when anyone said, "Sure I'll try it." My heart exalted and I was beyond belief anyone wanted to read MY BOOK...! LOL

Cheeky Girl said...

Big congrats on your first book Caroline!

Now that you've done your first signing, do you think the next will be easier? Or are writers always worried about people showing up?

Maureen said...

I have never been to a book signing but I think the thing that would turn me away would be a line. I never seem to have enough time to get everything I need to do done so anything that is going to take a big chunk of time is a problem.

Caroline said...

Good morning, Cheeky Girl! Cute name!!

I will always be anxious, I think, before a signing--at least at this point it feels that way. But the moment it starts and I start talking, the nerves go away. What will be will be, so to speak.

I your opinion, what is the most critical thing for an author to do to make a reader feel comfortable...?

Caroline said...

Well, Maureen, you wouldn’t have to worry about a line with me. LOL

Mine are not that kind since no one really knows who I am (yet). I certainly hope they will someday.

I agree with you though. If I'd come upon a signing by chance that had a line, and even if it was a favorite author, I most likely wouldn't wait. But, if I came out specifically for the signing, then I wouldn't mind at all.

Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. Have a super day!!!

EmilyBryan said...

Interesting, Maureen. I would have thought a line would pique reader's curiosity. People tend to flock to places where other people are.

To illustrate the point, I was in NYC once as a teen and my girl friend lost her contact (this was back when they were hard and devilishly expensive!) We were looking all around on the sidewalk for it and before we knew it, we had a ring of about 20 New Yorkers demanding to know what we were looking at! LOL!

Jeannie Lin said...

Hi Caroline!

I've heard how booksignings can be a lonely, lonely thing...with crickets chirping. It's wonderful to hear your story of your first one. Perhaps your personality may have something to do with the success of your signings. It's all in the attitude, right?

Being a little shy, I'm very scared of the thought of signing.

EmilyBryan said...

Readers always ask what the book is about. I think Caroline is very smart to have a one-sentence way to describe her book: Lonesome Dove meets Little House on the Prairie. Brilliant!

Caroline said...

Neat story, Emily.

I love the wonderful human spirit! Always will to help.

My question is; did you ever find the contact??

Caroline said...

Hi, Jeannie Lin! Good morning!!

Congratulations on your Golden Heart Win!! Woo Hoo!! And, more importantly--your sale!!!! I don't think you have anything to worry about at signings.

I believe you're so right. Attitude, attitude, attitude. Just have fun!!

Have a great day!!

Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

Good morning. I'm glad your booksinging turned out okay. That's wonderful. They are always iffy at best. I've never done a solo signing. I do them in groups. That makes it funner, because if there's a lull, you have someone to talk to. I hope your future signings to as well.

kathy said...

Congratulations on your debut book.
Although I haven't had my own booksigning yet, I've been to many.

Ever notice that when a group of people are looking at something, everyone around them tends to follow their gaze out of curiosity?

I think the same goes when there's a line at a table. People want to see what everyone else is looking at.

Like a few green-backs lying in the bottom of a tip jar, a group of people hovering over a stack of books, sends a subliminal message-"this must be something worth checking out-after all, there are so many others at that table!"
(At least that's the way my mind works I hate to miss out on anything!)

What I love from an author at a booksigning is when they enthusiastically engage me in conversation about their book. Excitment breeds excitment!

I've watched some authors talk about their charactors and story lines, telling just enough to entice the prospective buyer to Need to know more.

I sincerely wish you great success,and, Emily, thanks for your generostiy in giving Caroline this exposure on your blog.

ONWR said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your successful booksigning. I'm very excited for you. The chocolate was brilliant... you had me at truffle!

Erin Kellison

Liane Spicer said...

Hi Emily and Caroline!

Congratulations on your first signing, Caroline! I haven't had a signing yet but when I do I intend to drag a bunch of friends along and ask them to bring people as well. I can't think of anything more terrifying than standing alone in a store without a familiar face in sight, hoping total strangers will come over and take a look!

Good tips here - I'd never have thought of taking the laptop and playing the trailer.

jenniferloy said...

Hi everyone,
Just reading your posts on book signings. My first book signing is in 12 days..yes I'm counting down and biting my nails. LOL I will be stopping in again later today to read more comments as I am soaking up the info on the dos and don'ts of book signings and what to expect. Thanks!
Jennifer Loy

Jane L said...

Good Morning Ladies!
Hmm I am an aspiring author and my fear is if I have a first book signing, it willbe like a party where no guests show up! LOL!! But seriously, Ithink it takes alot of courage to put yourself out there with your product, one that came from your heart.

A turn off for me is if the author looks distracted, like is doodling in a journal or talking on their phone , I feel like I am interupting them and don't want to be a pest, well unless it's Emily and I just plain stalk her LOL ! Have a great week ladies!

EmilyBryan said...

Caroline, no, we never found the contact. But when you consider what may be on a NYC sidewalk, I think that was for the best!

Something I did once for a signing was take out a legal pad and write on my current WIP between visitors (always making sure to look up and smile and make eye contact with passers-by!) Lots of people enjoy being able to say they've met an author (as if we were a different species or something!) and like to talk about the writing process. If I'm doing it right there, I can visit with them then about not only what I have available, but what's coming.

Kathy, I've received so much help myself, I'm always glad to lend a hand to another writer!

EmilyBryan said...

LOL, Jane! I posted my "writing on a legal pad" comment just as your "don't want to interrupt them" note came in.

I hadn't ever thought that I'd look too busy since I tried to acknowledge everyone who came into the shop. (That was a pretty good signing as I recall and I was writing to meet a deadline!)

What do the rest of you think?

Caroline said...

Hi Anna Kathryn,
The only group signing I've done is the one in DC which is totally different, I think. And so much fun!! I was next to Lori Foster, who had a super great turn out.

But, I'd love to get together with other authors and have a great time...

Thanks for joining in...

Thanks for joing in...

Caroline said...

Hi Kathy!!

Thanks for all your good wishes. I really appreciate them. It's an exciting time.

Good simile with the money in a tip jar! I like that. And I need to pull out some more interesting things about my character and put them on the tip of my tongue.

Great ideas!! Thanks!!

Caroline said...

Erin!! So cute.
I had you at truffle!! LOL Like that!

Thanks for your congrats.

Caroline said...

Liane~~Hi! I'm so sure you'll do great when you do do a signing.

I guess I'm not terrified because I've stood in the center of arenas for so long taking pictures and it's usually in front of many people. And solitary. It's nice to have someone to talk to. hehehe

I hope I don't bore them.

So glad you came by!

Caroline said...

Jennifer-- how exciting!!! Congratulations!!

When you start to get scared just remember you have accomplished something so many people want to do, but never do. Enjoy every second. Even when you are sitting there alone. And, smile. A smile will draw others to you. But then, you already know all that.

I hope you will let us know how it goes~~~<3

Have fun! xoxoxxo

Pat said...

Hi Caroline!

Don't enter me for the book since I already have my autographed copy and wouldn't want to deny someone else the pleasure or reading your fabulous story.

I'm thrilled your signing went well. I've known some that didn't, and the author sat there feeling unloved and unwanted. Every author's nightmare.

So I'm raising a cyber-toast to your success. Way to go, my friend.

Caroline said...

Hi Jane, that is so true! I'm so glad you brought that up. Great point and we all should remember it.

I promise to leave my iphone in the car. LOL

Happy to have you here!

Cheeky Girl said...

As a reader I seem to like stand alone signings becuase in a group setting I feel guilty if I don't buy a book from everyone.

At the RT conference signing I literally felt like some authors were hurt as I walked past! I don't want to hurt their feelings, but I really don't know how to approach a table just to learn about a book without buying. It's like if you stop and chat then you must buy. I know it's just me, but those group signings make me angsty!

Heather D said...

I think I have to agree with Maureen. I really big line or long wait will most likely deter me. My son doesn't have any patience and the has the attention span of gnat. So if he is with me, that would be cause for a definite no go.

Caroline said...

Emily, good point on the contact! I don't know what I was thinking. Ick!

Nice idea about working on my WIP. That could also be a point of conversation. I think the goal is to make the readers feel comfortable with talking with you--and of course selling your book.

Caroline said...

Hi, Pat, thanks for stopping by. You're so sweet. I'll take that bubbly for sure.

Regarding some signings not going well--the manager of Boarders told me that authors sometimes think the store is going to "make the signing" for them instead of giving them the venue to hand sell themselves. Then too are disgruntled when they don't sell very many books.

I guess it's up to us to get creative!!!

Caroline said...

CheekyGirl, excellent point!

I've felt the very same way when walking through the aisles and aisles in that sea of authors. I wonder what we can do as authors to change that impression. I liked anyone talking with me even if they didn't buy a book.

But, I totally agree with you...hmmmmm. I'm thinking on this one.

Caroline said...

Heather, what about an express lane where one just picks up a pre-signed book and goes and doesn't wait for a personalized one? Who knows? It just might work! At least for big name authors where a reader just wants the authors signature on it to up the value….

EmilyBryan said...

I don't feel badly when people stop to chat and don't buy. Not everyone reads (insert sub-genre here).

I wonder how I can telegraph that I'm there for them to meet and if they like what they see, fine. If not, maybe next time.

Short of putting up a banner that screams "You don't have to buy a book just because you speak to me!" how can an author let the readers know they aren't going to be trapped into a buy?

The big mass signings can be fun. You get to know the authors whose books might be sitting next to yours on the bookstore shelves and readers who have read me feel comfortable just saying hi.

Then sometimes when traffic slows, I feel alittle like a zoo animal. People walk by the cages, tapping on the bars.

Marilyn Brant said...

Caro~I, too, have your book :). I'm just popping in to read the great tips!! I'll have my first signing in early October and I'm already nervous...

The thing that drives me to stop by an author's table if they're signing in a bookstore is a warm smile and sense of approachability. Also, if I can get a quick look at the book and the title/cover are intriguing--either something I'd read or something I know someone I love would enjoy :).

Cami Checketts said...

Great to see you on Emily's blog Caroline. Your book looks wonderful!

I think I've finally figured out book signings (I think). I stand, grin, and say hello to every person who looks my direction. If they come talk to me, I hand them a copy of my book and tell them to take it with them and decide if they're interested. I'd say 60-70% buy the book.

It's a bit intimidating to put yourself out there, but if you sit behind your table and wait for people to come to you, you might have some long hours at bookstores.

EmilyBryan said...

You're right, Marilyn. A smile is better than a banner! :)

Caroline said...

Hi Marilyn~~ Yea, you have my book from DC. Thank YOU!

Like you said, a good cover really helps. Plus, if it has been recommended.

Word of mouth is still the best advertising. Now, how to figure out how to get my book into all those mouths! LOL

Thanks for coming by!!

Caroline said...

I hear you, Emily. A little sign right out in front might be funny. No purchase necessary.

Hmmm, what do you think?

Caroline said...

Cami, hi!! You're a genius. That's an old sales technique. Let them have it for a while, a puppy, big fluffy sleep number bed, whatever. Once they have it they fall in love and don't want to give it back.

That's a GREAT idea!!

THANK YOU! kisskisskiss

Caroline said...

Smile while you hand them the book and a truffle....!

Kayla Westra said...

Wish I was close enough to come to one of your signings! I went to a ton when I lived in Kansas City - not so many now (just none that close). Often I knew the author, or wanted to meet the author, so I was motivated! I met Cathy Maxwell eons ago in her home town, where I was living at the time, and she's been such a sweetheart to me. As a reader, I think we underestimate how intimidating it must be to the author to sit there and hope someone will come by and chat!

Congrats, and like Pat, I have my very own autographed copy, so please don't enter me in the drawing. Kayla

EmilyBryan said...

In many ways, a book is like a conversation with the author. But it's a little one-sided.

That's why I love it when readers comment here on the blog, or send me emails, or come up to talk to me at signings. That's my time to listen in this conversation! And sometimes, it's so humbling. I had a reader drive for two hours to come to a signing I did in Connecticut once. (Bless your heart, Rachel!) Another drove from a neighboring town into St. Louis (I was on my way home to Boston from visiting family in MO) because I said I'd be there signing stock at a certain time (Hey Thumper! I was 10 minutes late because of traffic, but she was still there!)

We writers wouldn't have a job without readers. We appreciate you so much! (No, I don't have a mouse in my pocket. I just know I can speak for Caroline on this point too!).

Thank you to everyone who left a suggestion here. Rest assured, I'm taking notes!

Caroline said...

Hey, Kayla (my critique partner)
Good to see you.

That, too, is an excellent point why signings are important. You met Cathy Maxwell long ago but you two still remain friends. It's like when one goes to a concert, after that they feel involved with the artist and run out for each and every new CD they make.

Thanks for coming by!

Caroline said...

All the points were excellent. And, yes Emily, I agree with you one hundred percent.

Readers are everything!!

Cate Rowan said...

Hi Caroline! I'm too lazy to go to the bookstore, so I do all my book shopping online. That's why I never go to booksignings (except RWA). You seem to be doing very well with them, though. :-)

No need to put me in the drawing since I was blessed with a signed copy already!

Hot Ash Romance Novels said...

Congratulations, Caroline!!!

I have a great booksigning story! But rather than repeat it all here, I'll just direct folks to the place where the story sits, permanently.

Finish reading the comments here first, though! I don't mean to (oh, shiny!) take people away from your site too soon, Emily!


EmilyBryan said...

That's ok, Ashlyn. (She's my critique buddy, so I encourage you to visit her for a bit!)

Here's a link to get you to her BookSigning Story faster!

Cynthia Owens said...

Hi Emily and Caroline,
My first signing was at our local library (no bookstores close by). I grew up here, nad I knew the librarian very well. The "signing" turned out to be a "reading" (local author makes good kinda thing), and several of our city councillors were invited. As an extremely shy person, I was terrified, but an actor friend of mine shared some tips on conquering stage fright (deep breathing, imagining I was reading to one special person). Not only did the reading go off without a hitch, but I sold every copy of my book, gave two interviews to local papers, and got requests for more copies!

Glynis Peters said...

I have yet to have the pleasure of a book signing. I have not bothered with my poetry books, I am going to wait and see what happens with my novel.
I loved the pictures of your night, and so thrilled it went well for you.

ldk said...

Hi Emily - your blog was suggested to me by another blogger (Teddytree- wonderful lady), to see how an author can blend both personal and book related stuff on a blog...sometimes I feel like one big advertisement! She said you did a great job at it. With that said, I would love to answer this question about book signings.

My first book signing was with the co-author of a Chicken Soup Book Signing and since I was the first chapter they asked me to come. It was cold out and only a tiny crowd, but the cool thing was that they allowed people to bring their dogs! I signed copies for them and read a bit.

My own first book signing at a B&N was not fun at all. Even though it was June, it was cold, pouring rain, dangerous lightning and a usually crowded store was virtually empty. Rows of seats set up for people were empty because nobody in their right mind would venture out on a night like that, so they put me at the door instead. I sold a few books to some nice people, but mostly answered questions like "So, do you print them there books in your house?" I said "No, the publisher takes care of that". Then "Oh, so like, how much does all that ink cost?" to which I answered "I don't realy know, I suppose the company that prints them would know that." and finally "Oh, where do make those books then, in your basement?" and it occurred to me what to say. "No. It's too damp down there."...finally, an answer he liked! "Oh yeah, that makes sense...too damp..yeah."

So, not so great!

EmilyBryan said...

Too funny, IDK! Yeah, when I have signings I always make sure I know the answer to the question I'm most likely to get:

"Where's the restroom?"

Tell TeddyRee I said thanks for sending you my way! She's a doll.

jenniferloy said...

I'm cracking up at the basement printing..LOL

Caroline said...

Hi Cate! It's always good to see ya. Hugs!

Caroline said...

Hi Ash, thanks for stopping. I'll head over there pronto...!

Thanks for your congrats!

Caroline said...

Cynthia~~now THAT'S a great book signing story!! I liked the tips on reading to a group and will file them away for the future...


And, Congrats!

Caroline said...

Glynis, hello and thank you!

I love poetry books. I think a signing with one would be a lot of fun—and different. I'd get an easel and print one poem out very large, put it on a board and put it up so people coming in would stop and read. Just a thought....

Good to see your waterski pix.

Caroline said...

LOL! Idk, too hilarious.

I know not for you at the time but what questions!!

I didn't get anything like that. I did get a fellow who thought I should have a little sign up saying, $6.99 at the Register. ( he thought it was such a good deal ) He was so sure that it would do the trick for me he wrote it on the back of one of my postcards and gave it to me. For the time he was in the store I left it up....

Thanks for dropping in!