This weekend I had my first book-signing events in the metropolises of Minneapolis and Maple Grove, Minn. One was a reading at a small indie bookstore; the other was a signing event with a bunch of other authors at a big box chain bookstore.
I did the indie bookstore reading first, at Moon Palace Books in south Minneapolis. The audience was intimate and mostly genetically related to myself. (Grin.) But it was fun and I sold a few books. The owner was wonderful and, with thirty bookcases that were only two years old, the place smelled good — like freshly cut lumber.
We were just wrapping up when the Viola Player arrived. Or rather, she swooped in. Judy with the Duluth-Superior Symphony Orchestra (DSSO), is not the type to enter any other way. I experienced her vivaciousness first-hand when I had lunch with her as research for my novel “Plover Landing.” A viola player figures prominently in the story, but I needed to learn more about the life of this type of musician. I brought my plight to the DSSO and they hooked me up with Judy.
I chose the instrument because it’s the one I would have wanted to play if I hadn’t already been a French horn player in the high school band. I just love how it sounds, and the introvert in me loves how it’s a background instrument. From Judy, I learned about the underdog, scrappy culture of violists.
I didn’t know she was planning on attending my reading, so her swooping entrance was a surprise. A nice one, however! She even had her viola strapped to her back, and with little coaxing, treated us to several tunes. That’s one reading I won’t soon forget, and I’m sure the bookstore owners will remember it, too.
The big box chain bookstore event was a bust. Hardly anyone attended. If it had been my only event, I would have driven home in the dark of night feeling like the five-hour round trip was not worth it. I learned two lessons from this experience that I would like to share, especially with new authors who are responsible for their own marketing:
- If you’re traveling more than an hour or two from home, try to have more than one signing event scheduled to hedge your bets on feeling successful. In other words: Don’t put your book signing eggs all in one basket.
- The book signing ain’t over until the viola lady plays!