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