Monday, February 18, 2013

A successful bookstore reading and discussion

My friend, Eleanor Vincent came down this weekend to fulfill our commitment to do a reading and discussion at my local independent pages: a bookstore. She arrived on Saturday afternoon, and after much stalling we got to work planning the event Sunday morning after breakfast.

We quickly decided to alternate two or three readings with short chats related to them, and then open the discussion to the audience. We chose on our reading portions – I chose two and Eleanor chose three – and then we practiced and timed the whole piece, including our remarks. I also created an agenda so we could each have one at the ready as we sat in front of the attendees later in the afternoon. I had already purchased a few bottles of wine and sparkling water and some veggies and dip to serve. Mike O’Mary shipped us books to sell. Eleanor’s went directly to Pages. Mine came to my home.

With all that we declared ourselves ready – mainly because we are very knowledgeable about our books’ messages and the commonality of our stories. That enabled us to easily play our experiences off one another.

I did have the usual worry of: suppose you throw a party and no one comes. As usual, several people who said they would be there didn’t show, and several people I didn’t know would attend did. I think that has happened with every event I’ve participated in so far. The good thing is most of the chairs were filled – about twenty people were there.

Reading and Bantering

I think our banter and readings about writing as healing went very well. And we had many questions, comments, and tears from the audience. But the disappointing part was that we didn’t sell many books – I think we each sold four. Lisa DeLong from my writing group, who is also a bereaved parent, attended and sold a few of her book, Blood Brothers, too. Of course our Dream of Things publisher warned us that authors don’t usually sell a lot of books at bookstores. (I was definitely spoiled by the over sixty I sold at my book launch in 2011, so of course I expected to sell more.) As Eleanor said, people just don’t get it. When they come to a reading and book signing they need to be prepared to buy books.

Lisa, Madeline, and Eleanor

So, Eleanor and I are now ready to take our show on the road – to other venues pertinent to our subject matter where we can sell books in the back of the room: libraries, book festivals, conferences, speaking engagements. Anyone out there, who wants to book us, please let me know.

All told, I think we had a great event. Like I’ve always felt, it’s not really about selling books. It’s about erasing the stigma of mental illness and preventing suicide. If my events help do that, I’ll feel successful.
Eleanor’s book is Swimming with Maya
just out in paperback and eBook 
(Dream of Things, 2013)

(Dream of Things, 2012)

Thank you Mike O'Mary of Dream of Things for publishing both our books. 

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