Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Book-signings in an era of brick and mortar bookstores by Mary Ellis


     I often think back fondly of my very first book-signing. I had just published a romantic suspense geared to the literary/library market. So the binding and packaging were top-notch—it would truly hold up to heavy wear-and-tear. And the cover photo was embedded in the hardback cover, beneath the paper jacket. The only problem was the list price of $27.00 for an absolute “nobody” of a writer. I was so tickled with getting published that I scheduled a signing at my local independent bookstore. (Borders and Barnes and Noble kept asking: Who did you say you were?) This was an adorable shop in a valley surrounded by ski slopes and quaint art galleries. Unfortunately, it is now out-of-business. I send out dozens of publicity postcards to my family, friends, neighbors and business acquaintances. I paid for ads in my local newspapers and tried every avenue of free publicity I could find.
     
     The day of the event I wore my new dress and took extra time with hair and make-up. I brought a tray of cookies and fruit tarts from the nearby bakery. The store owner had a fire lit with a comfy armchair for me to greet my “fans.” And in they came—my neighbors, cousins, and coworkers at my day job. It was like a cocktail party minus the cocktails. Everyone mingled and had a great time, including me. One hapless tourist wandered in and noticed the commotion. I spent fifteen minutes weaving an intriguing synopsis of my mystery. He kept thumbing through the book and nodding his head enthusiastically. Then suddenly he said: “Your book sounds good, but I’ll just check it out at the library.” And he disappeared out the door.

     In the end, I didn’t sell a single copy to anyone who wasn’t related to me or knew me personally, but I did sell almost thirty books. When we were leaving with our empty dessert tray, my husband said: “This obligates us to very nice wedding/shower/baby/graduation or whatever gifts to everyone for the rest of our lives.” But you know what? It was all worth it, because for one special afternoon I felt like an author instead of just a writer.

     Mary Ellis has written twelve award-winning novels set in the Amish community and several historical romances. Her latest, What Happened on Beale Street, is part of a new mystery series, Secrets of the South, from Harvest House Publishers. Before "retiring" to write full-time, Mary taught school and worked as a sales rep for Hershey Chocolate, a job with amazingly sweet fringe benefits. She enjoys traveling, gardening, bicycling and swimming, and lives in Ohio with her husband, dog and cat. She can be found on the web at: www.maryellis.net or www.facebook.com/Mary-Ellis/Author


9 comments:

  1. What a great story...and how nice of everyone to come out and support you like that.

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  2. I wish I lived close to the area, I love book signings and would have been there!

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  3. I love the "Secrets of the South" series! Sure can't wait for the next one!

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  4. Thanks for sharing, Mary. You know that cartoon where the author is sitting at a table and occasionally someone passes by and asks where the restroom is? Yeah. I've been there! Hugs and have an awesome day.

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  5. Mary, appreciate your sharing. And my general experience with book-signings parallels the cartoon described by Vannetta. But that first one is special, isn't it?

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  6. How fun Mary! I'd be a bundle of nerves for sure! Glad to know at least your friends and family were there to celebrate with you.

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  7. What a great story! Thank you for sharing it w/ your readers. That is one good thing about having lots of family and friends!

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  8. Thanks for sharing your story with us Mary. What a blessings that you have a wonderful circle of friends and family that support your writing gift (and of course your readers too) . I would love to read your book. I have never been to a book signing. I have only read of one christian author coming to my area once but it was about an hour away.
    marypopmom (at) yahoo (dot) com
    Maryann

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  9. What an interesting interview. That had to be quite an experience. I would have been very nervous, at least you had friends to support you. Looking forward to reading to reading "What Happened on Beale Street".
    diannekc8(at)gmail(dot)com

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