I spent yesterday at a multi-author book signing at the Gadsden Hotel in Douglas, Az. The event was hosted by a committee wanting to celebrate the state’s centennial. Multi author events are always interesting. Over the years, I have been to a variety of events. Most take place within hotels, but I have been to some at colleges as well as malls. (The malls are the best because you never know what characters will walk by.) There are a lot of challenges in participating in these events. The biggest is how to stand out amongst the authors. One sweet woman I was next to yesterday had on a sparkling pink cowboy hat. She said people have found her at other events by recognizing her hat. I laughed, not sure if I could bring myself to do something like that. Perhaps some sort of centerpiece on my table? Or maybe I should just let go of my introverted nature and dress in costume like one gentleman.
One thing I know, I can expect typical sales of my books to decline when in a large crowd like that. It’s a logical consequence. Readers will only buy so many books in one sitting. But, I don’t tend to do the events for the sole purpose of selling books. The first is interacting with readers. I love talking with them, even if it’s not about my books. I love to hear what interests them as well as see the love of books glowing from their eyes. Likewise, I enjoy interacting with the other authors. I have picked up valuable marketing advice as well as how they interact with potential readers. Not to mention, I love meeting with other authors who not understand the craft but also the public perception. They understand the struggles and the quirkiness of the profession.
It is inspiring to me, to look amongst the tables. There are authors with one book strategically scattered, just starting out. I remember the scared teenager at my first signing and smile with nostalgia. There are authors with large posters promoting their books. There are authors with festive decorations covering their table. It is the authors who sit behind a pile of different books that inspire me. They have what looks like a promotional table for a library, and yet every book has the same name…theirs. I look at their tables and feel rejuvenated. Are they a “bestseller?” Are they “famous?” Maybe in some circles. But they have a large body of work, an immaculate display of creativity to present on their tables. And, more importantly, they have a lifetime of writing to present. They must be successful to showcase such a spread. It reminds me that in the midst of a world proclaiming the toughness of the profession, amongst the voices of those who say making it in the industry is as likely as getting struck by lightning, these authors have survived. And, more importantly, they are doing what they love to do. How wonderful is that? I cannot imagine a better life for myself. When I feel discouraged, I remember their tables and know I can do the same.