Tuesday, April 9, 2013

James R Johnson – Book Signing Horror Story

Book Signing Horror Story

by James R Johnson

My debut novel was published on November 30, 2012.  I had anticipated the day with a surreal excitement.  I couldn’t believe that a normal (relatively normal anyway) guy without a college degree could accomplish publishing a book.  Not just publishing, but from a publisher who paid me to do it.  It was something that would take some getting used to.

The publisher assigned me a publicist to help promote the book.  Since I am a nobody author, she recommended I host a book launch party in my local area.  Invite family and friends, make it a celebration for my close-knit circle of community.  Of course I thought this was a great idea.  But I thought I could make it bigger and better.

Problem was I had no idea what a book launch party was about.  My publisher has pictures on their website of another author at a book launch.  He was set up in a formal setting with an elegant sit-down dinner.  That was a bit out of my price range, so I did more research.

I contacted my local writing association, of which I am a member.  They recommended that I host the party at a restaurant and just have a small party.  They also suggested working with a bookstore or library and hold a book signing event.  That got my attention.  I could have a book signing, notify the press of a local getting a book deal and meeting the public!

The association recommended a bookseller to help with the effort.  I sent her an email and described the situation.  It took a couple days before she responded and all she said was to call her.  So, I called and she explained that she lived about an hour away from me and that she needed to sell about fifty copies of the book to make the trip worth her time.  With just my friends and family, I knew I had that much, so I agreed.  She took the information of the book, publisher, title, ISBN, etc. to get the copies.

I booked a room at my local library and sent out a press release to my local papers and news outlets.  I only saw one mention in one of the newspapers, but it was enough.  I was promoted, glowingly actually, in the local paper!

I sent an email to the bookseller about a week before the event to confirm that she had the copies of the book and she was still planning on attending.  She never responded to that email.  That should have been a red flag, but a lot of people never return my emails, so I didn’t think anything about it at the time.

The day arrived.  The library opened at 1pm and that was when the signing began.  I pulled into the parking lot and my friends and family were waiting for me.  It looked like a family reunion.  We go inside and I see the bookseller sitting in the room.  I walk in and introduce myself, smiling like it was Christmas morning.  Then the bomb dropped.  She asked, “You brought the books, right?”.  My mouth hit the floor.  I told her that wasn’t the agreement we made.  Then she danced around the issue with proclamations of what she always does in book signings and that this has never happened before.

I was hoppin’ mad.  But there wasn’t anything I could do about it.  The bookseller said she was sick and shouldn’t have even gotten out of bed, but she committed to the event.  I politely thanked her for braving the drive and coming down.  She quickly packed her things and took off.  Before leaving she mentioned that when I got copies of the book, I could come to her bookstore and have a signing there.  I smiled and wished her a safe trip home vowing to myself I would never step foot in her store.

I announced the situation to my family and friends who had assembled.  It was one of the most embarrassing events of my life.  Thankfully, everyone there knew me, so it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.  At least there wasn’t anyone from the public who would think me an imbecile for not having any books to sign at a book signing.

So, it ended up just be a family reunion after all.  But it was a good time and a good laugh… eventually.

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Genre – Urban Fantasy

Rating – PG13

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