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Sara Reyes | Author Signings...My First Real and Virtual


This week's guest blogger, Susan Wiggs, had a post about the most horrible signings she's ever been on. And I found it interesting reading. I also thought about the comments. I haven't always been so lucky to live in an area where authors come every week to sign their books. When I was younger, in the sixties and 70s I lived in a very rural area and don't remember ever visiting a real "book store" that wasn't run by the Mennonite Church. Which trust me had a very small fiction section. And that store was 40 miles away and we only went once a year to pick up grandmother's materials. Our reading time was spent reading a chapter every day from the Bible and reading through the World Craft Encyclopedia. Our local library was located over the one engine firehouse. It was a small room with about 1,000 books in it. I did learn to love Zane Grey and Elswyth Thane. But it wasn't somewhere we visited often. Then I went to college and oh, what a world there was! Books were sold in stores like the downtown Philadelphia Woolworth which I haunted every Saturday morning to buy a book. My money was very tight, so fiction reading was my guilty pleasure and let me tell you, it was a very delicious guilty pleasure!

After college it was off to Germany to live with my husband on a military base. The library was limited, to be kind, again I honed up on my Louis l'Amour and Zane Grey until one day someone dumped off a grocery sack of Harlequin Romances and Presents. My eyes were opened. I was desperate and read anything. I also made friends with the bookseller at the base, a little building next to the PX where I worked as assistant manager. As long as I finished a book over night and it was still in perfect condition, she'd let me take a book to read for every book I bought. She was the first fellow reader I ever knew. We talked every day about books and I read my way steadily through the Woodiwiss and Rogers and the Regencies that were beginning to dominate the shelves. Then the Germany days were over and it was back to the States to a new world for me. Not only did I land in the suburbs of Philadelphia but they had bookstores in every mall, at least TWO, and used book stores. I never knew about these places before. As a young mother, we didn't have lots of money so the used bookstores became my friend. Every day after dropping the kiddo off at kindergarten and first grade, I'd go to the used book store and I started at the beginning of the category romances and buy through. I never knew about subscriptions, I just knew these books were mostly delightful, and got me through the day. After my son was in second grade, I also started at a job. In the mall, near a Waldenbooks. Ah, heaven. The 80s were a drifting decade for me. And when my collection of books really took off.

Book Signing
Originally uploaded by freshfiction

But all during these years I never knew authors were other than gods and goddesses turning out books -- never fast enough -- for me to read. I never knew they did "visits" to stores, at least they never came to the area I lived in. And apparently this was the heyday for book signings. Who knew? It wasn't until I had lived in Texas for several years (mid 80s to mid 90s) that I found out the authors were real people, and signed books. Two things happened in 1995/6 -- the Romantic Times convention was in Fort Worth which I read all about in the newspaper, Fort Worth being far away, like sixty miles, and the following year the RWA conference in Dallas. I went to the book signing at the Anatole and it was amazing! It was like being in a bit of heaven -- and hell. I arrived early and hung out in the lobby with my daughter, she was 12 and not that excited about being there on a July afternoon when she could have been home swimming. But being the kind mother I was, she was my guest. I wasn't going alone! And good thing, there seemed to be thousands of people there and I was overwhelmed!

The first author I met shall remain nameless, let's just say it was NOT a pleasant experience and has made me to this day dislike her books, but I persevered and walked into the ballroom. The last time I had been in Anatole ball room was for a company Holiday party with my husband and I met Roger Staubach. I was dressed in a "prom" outfit and received a Tiffany box that I still have! This signing was the complete opposite of that night! Let Me Tell YOU! It was noisy, crowded and so over whelming. I didn't understand the concept of the authors sitting at tables with books piled in front of them. I didn't understand you could actually walk up to them, get a book signed and then buy it. It was as I said overwhelming. And a nice lady with a Southern accent took pity on me and walked up and started talking. She asked what I liked to read, and being on a Regency tear, I said Mary Balogh. So she took me over to the "B" table and introduced me to Mary Balogh who was sitting there, unfortunately without books, but Ms. Balogh graciously signed a book mark for me. And the Southern Lady stood next to us beaming and then said, "honey, what else to you read?" By this time I managed to read her name tag, and OMG, it was LINDA HOWARD! I LOVED Linda Howard. Her first single titles were just beginning and I had them all. I had all her category romances. I think I almost fell over. She took me to her table and apologized for not having her latest book. Who cared? I bought every book she had there even though I had copies at home. She signed them all to me! "To Sara," well, one is signed to "Sarah" but the other two are signed to the right "Sara." Those books are locked away in a special place and will remain there, unread, until I give them with the story to my descendants.

I wandered the rest of the ballroom after leaving Ms. Howard and found a Cheryl Zach who wrote YA books my daughter read. Being generous, and I usually always did buy at least one book whether they liked it or not for my children. Ms. Zach signed a book for Gwen, which unfortunately did not work out so well. She broke the spine to sign the book and when Gwen later tried to read it, every page fell out as she read the book. After that, Gwen refused to have authors sign anything for her for years. In fact she still has that phobia.

After the Anatole experience, I began to realize that authors actually do come to bookstores and sign, and it's not so overwhelming when they come to your local area. I became the haunt at our local Waldenbooks signings. I saw Sandra Brown, Judith McNaught, Catherine Coulter and many other authors. Sometimes they had big crowds, sometimes small ones, but I always treasured them and the signed books I'd buy.

I've never been to a virtual signing, and I'm curious. What are they like? So I wonder, do you remember your "first time" at an author signing and tell me about a "virtual" signing, please!

Sara Reyes Until next time...
Get out there and READ a book...
Sara Reyes
DFW Tea Readers Group
Join us at Readers 'n 'ritas!

Our prize this weekend is bundle of signed books so even if you don't have the chance to meet the author, you'll know that we did and we're sharing the bounty! Just leave a comment today or tomorrow and you'll be in the pool!




49 comments posted.

Re: Sara Reyes | Author Signings...My First Real and Virtual

Thanks for sharing your experiences. Unfortunately, I have yet to attend an author signing but I am hoping to someday as well as my first conference. These things will probably have to wait at least until my 2 year old and 6 year old are a few years older.
(Cherie Japp 8:57am September 26, 2009)

I have never been able to attend an author signing but your experience sounds exciting.
(Maureen Emmons 9:55am September 26, 2009)

Over 10 years ago, I found a book at the doctor’s office. It was written by a local author and it was about the county’s historical past. While glancing through it, I found pictures of the farm I was raised on. When I returned home, I searched for the book but it was out of print and copies were scarce and extremely expensive. Fast forward 8 years….

I was reading the local paper online. In the county section, I stumbled upon a book signing and lecture, by the same author I had discovered 8 years ago! Needless to say, I registered it and dragged my parents with me. I actually had the opportunity to speak with the author about the area, too. I was thrilled!

(Tracey Dent 11:45am September 26, 2009)

Not many chances around here to go to Author's signings, not a big enough city! Hopefully some will start dropping in on one of our few bookstores for a signing.
Thanks for sharing your experience!
(Sharon Knight 12:39pm September 26, 2009)

I have never been to a book sighning but would love to go to one. There is just not many in the area where I live!
(Gail Hurt 1:05pm September 26, 2009)

I love your story. I have never been to a book signing. I think I would have to start out small, like at my local Barnes & Noble. You jumped in both feet first!
(Erica Greca 1:22pm September 26, 2009)

My favorite book signing came about 10 years when I took my daughter to a signing by childen's author/illustrator Jan Brett. It was wonderful to see so many kids excited about books!
(G S Moch 1:22pm September 26, 2009)

I've never been to a book signing. I was all set to go to a book signing when my husband fell ill. I stayed home with my hubby, and I asked my daughter if she would go just so she could come back and tell me what it was like. My daughter came back and said how nice MaryJanice Davidson was and she signed some books for me. As a result of going to the book signing, my daughter started reading MJD's books and loves them! :)
(Anna McKenrick 1:28pm September 26, 2009)

I've never been to a "real" book signing or a virtual one. I do hope I get to meet some of my favorite authors someday.
(Jane Cheung 1:52pm September 26, 2009)

I'm going to my first book signing in October. I've wanted to meet the author forever and now have the chance. I hope they don't mind if I bring ALL her books to the signing, because I sure plan to. And I plan to get there very early so I can get a good place in line!!!
(Mitzi Hinkey 1:52pm September 26, 2009)

I can't remember exactly how many signings I've been to--up to a dozen, I guess. The biggest was at an RT convention (similar to one shown.) All the authors were very kind, as far as I can remember. I spoke a little more with Heather Graham/Shannon Drake. She had just brought out her first vampire book, and so I told her that I didn't like vampires and didn't want to buy the book, although I had bought all her other books up to then. She agreed that not every book was for every reader and was very amiable about the whole matter. I can't remember if I bought that book or not. At any rate, I had brought along some authors' books to have signed and one may have been hers. I had to travel farther for this one too, but we've had a few single author signings here in our city--notably 2 by Diana Gabaldon which I attended. It was a reading as well, and her sense of humor as she related some of her experiences as a teacher and read from her latest book had us all in stitches. Our local university and public library has put these on. Since she now has a new book out, I'm hoping there will be another signing soon.

A virtual signing is when, under an author's direction, you pay for a new book before it's released at a certain bookstore and the author signs it there for you. You have to pay for the postage as well. Quite a number of authors now do this instead of traveling around. Two who do this are Suzanne Brockmann and Jayne Ann Krentz, aka Jayne Castle and Amanda Quick. Go to your favorite authors' websites and see if they do such signings. If you sign up for their newsletters, they will notify you when a new book is available, and if you can have it signed virtually.
(Sigrun Schulz 2:08pm September 26, 2009)

I live in Germany, getting English books is limited, but thank God for amazon!!! We had a small, tiny romance conference here a few times and I went for about four years in a row. I met the lovely Sherrilyn Kenyon, Dianna Love, Kathleen Givens, Lindsay Sands. Ellora's Cave came over one year, with some of their authors and cover models....yum. It was such fun, but unfortunately it's no longer on! Boohoo.
(Valerie Bongards 2:36pm September 26, 2009)

I have never had the pleasure of attending a book signing. I live in a small area and in the middle of nowhere land and no one ever comes this way. Sad because to me that would be the absolute ultimate.
(Vicki Hancock 2:38pm September 26, 2009)

I lived up North until 11 years ago. There were book signings all the time. Here in SWF there haven't been very many so you snowbird authors the weather is great down here, okay so it's the rainy season. But it's almost over so think about coming down here. There's lots of shopping centers with book stores.
(Evelyn Day 2:57pm September 26, 2009)

I would love to attend a signing.....if they would ever hold one here in my hometown!
(JoAnn White 3:09pm September 26, 2009)

I have met and chatted with authors online, and they have mailed autographed books to me. I have never, however,had the pleasure of going to an author signing. I would love to meet some authors in person one day.
(Cheryl Castings 3:12pm September 26, 2009)

I have never experienced a virtual signing. I have never even had the pleasure of a real signing since I live in such a rural area. the best I have gotten is some signed name plates for the inside of the book. I also have gotten signed books via the internet which I adore.
It would be so exciting to go to a real signing and meet a few or my favorite authors one day.
(Gigi Hicks 4:40pm September 26, 2009)

I enjoy interacting with authors online.
You can have a more meaningful
conversation online, than the one that
takes place during a one minute author
(Sue Ahn 4:47pm September 26, 2009)

Unfortunately I have never been to a book signing, but my good friend, Jan, went to one. She had several authors sign their books to me. How special that was! What a true friend. I treasure those books!
(Rosemary Krejsa 6:22pm September 26, 2009)

Thank you for your blog, Sara (without an "h").

I've never been to a book signing. There weren't even any broad-market bookstores where I live, a small town in Arkansas, until a Hastings store opened up here five years ago.

There have been a few signings there, but mostly for books of local interest. And I already know quite a bit about my town!
(Mary Anne Landers 7:02pm September 26, 2009)

My first was to a local RWA author's and readers luncheon and book signing. It was such a thrill to meet and chat with authors whom I had admired as well as meeting ones new to me. They and the other readers attending were gracious, fun, and welcoming. I haven't attended a virtual signing so will be reading up on comments hoping to learn something about them.
(G. Bisbjerg 7:23pm September 26, 2009)

My wife took her author friend to some signings here in London, and also in Niagara, and you need to be polite all the time you're there. Fans are everywhere.
(Sean Pynaert 8:07pm September 26, 2009)

I've never been to a book signing I live in a small town with one small bookstore, but I did win a book and the author signed it for me. Maybe one day I'll got to go to one.
(Sherry Strode 8:28pm September 26, 2009)

BTW, I'm a big Elswyth Thane fan myself. I read the whole Williamsburg series while I was in high school. Little by little I managed to collect them until only THE LIGHT HEART was left. I looked for it everywhere I went and did so again on a trip to visit friends in the DC area. I went to Williamsburg and looked even harder here. On my drive to see Jamestown, I discovered a used book store and to my great surprise, they had 2 copies (strange, isn't it.) One of them had the name Mrs. William Beebe on the inside cover with a date. I've never been able to verify if this was truly Elswyth Thane's autograph because I've never been able to find a copy of her handwriting--but as some will know, this was her legal name. I also have about a dozen of her other books.
(Sigrun Schulz 8:35pm September 26, 2009)

I have never been to a book signing, real or virtual. I agree with Sue, I like interacting on line with authors much better. Even blogging like this is much more intimate, you can learn a lot about your favorite authors
(Theresa Buckholtz 11:21pm September 26, 2009)

I never really understood "virtual signings" and have never been to one. I've been to a number of regular signings though. Only two left a bad taste in my mouth. I can't remember which was my first time at an author signing but I got my first signed books by handing them over to my third grade teacher because the author was his mother-in-law. She signed all of them and also personalised a laminated promotional poster too. :D
(Jacqueline Lam 12:30pm September 27, 2009)

Sara, I spent the 70s in Germany, 6 years close to a U.S. army base--actually where they had some of the Pershing missiles in the 80s. When I went home to Canada for a visit in 1976, I went to a used book store--as I'd been wont to do when I lived in here--and saw some of the great new historical romances. Thereafter, I got special permission to buy books at the bookstore beside the PX at the base; after all I was an English teacher.
(Sigrun Schulz 1:52am September 27, 2009)

Sean, I live in London, ON. Who's your wife's author friend?
(Sigrun Schulz 1:58am September 27, 2009)

I have never been to a book signing but I would love to go to one I live in a small city on top of Ca. not miny authers vist here and if that do I don;t no about it.But I have won some contest were authors have sent me signed books so I have a few.
(Stacey Smith 4:18am September 27, 2009)

Have never been to a book signing, but I bet they are fantastic. Have such a great respect for authors and their wonderful ability to keep you mesmerized with their writing.
(Joanne Reynolds 7:41am September 27, 2009)

I've never had the opportunity
to be at an author signing,
virtually or otherwise, but I
sure would love to!
(Margay Roberge 8:24am September 27, 2009)

I have only been to one signing at a local RWA conference so it was very small, but the authors I met were very nice.
(Michelle K 9:14am September 27, 2009)

I unfortunately haven't yet been to any author signings nor have I experienced any virtual one. But I very much would like to one of these days.
(Eva Minaskanian 10:23am September 27, 2009)

Oh, what military base in Germany? I, too, lived in Germany in Baumholder which is one of the largest bases in Germany. Absolutely loved it.
I've yet to attend an author signing but would so love to. Not many author's come to my small town. Thanks for sharing your experiences maybe one day I'll get the opportunity to as well.
(Jessica Gugel 10:59am September 27, 2009)

I have only been to one. Sherrilyn Kenyon. She was fantastic. Yes it was one of those you get a ticket & wait for your number to be called, but Diana Love was w/ her & kept the crowd busy while Sherrilyn signed books. It was great.
(Jo Ann Jansing 11:44am September 27, 2009)

I have been to several book signings in Florida. I have also won several books. Bot ways are okay with me. It is the interaction with the author that I treasure. I buy more of their books when I feel a connection.
(Karin Tillotson 3:23pm September 27, 2009)

I have never gone to a signing at a bookstore, but I have won giveaways where the author signs her book.
(Armenia Fox 3:38pm September 27, 2009)

(Ann w 5:46pm September 27, 2009)

I wish I could have met Linda Howard, she's one of my favorite authors; I'm waiting for her next book Ice in November and her next audio Shades of in October.
(Diane Sadler 5:52pm September 27, 2009)

I have been to one book signing. The talk beforehand was most inciteful. I loved this. I have been on the lookout for more in my area.
(Mary Preston 7:04pm September 27, 2009)

I love going to booksignings and have been lucky to have such funny and wonderful speakers as Nora Roberts - yes, Nora, Barbara Delinsky, James Patterson who said he can write anywhere and more than one book at a time, Nicholas Sparks, Dave Barry, & Erin Brocovich. I feel like I am forgetting someone. Yes, Suzanne Brockmann also a great speaker and very generous in giving out prizes at the signing. I was supposed to be somewhere else that day, but plans got cancelled so I got to see Suz speak.
(Pat Lieberman 8:11pm September 27, 2009)

Never been to a book signing none are ever in my area.
(Jeanette Bowman 12:04pm September 28, 2009)

I have never been to a signing. Would love to though.
(Helen Livermore 11:27am September 28, 2009)

What a great story .Had such a good time reading about your life. Only been to three signings- for my daughter,very special. Chris Burd
(Chris Burd 4:17pm September 28, 2009)

I have never been to a signing, not many authors come this way.
(Catherine Lemanski 5:13pm September 28, 2009)

only signing so far was L E Modessit, from utah, who came to a now regretably closed bookstore near philly; he not only talked with me, but signed both my book and a copy from my local library; a real gentleman and my closest meeting with a writer-god. dan dayton
(Daniel Dayton 9:51pm September 28, 2009)

I have only been to a few book sighnings. It makes it so real when you can put the writer with the book, almost like to best friends talking late at night. Thanks so much for brighting my days.
(Judy Hendrix 9:57pm September 28, 2009)

I've never been to an author signing, but liked listening to your expereinces.
(Margo Novak 10:53am September 29, 2009)

Very entertaining experience, Sara. My first experience was not so rememberable (is that a word?) Mine was in Okla City at Haliberton's department store - big book selection area in the late 50s. I met one of the authors of the Nancy Drew team. Don't remember who and don't have the book but I've read ever since I can remember. Our biggest treat at Christmas was 2 books under our stockings at Christmas.
(Vicki Patterson 9:54am September 30, 2009)

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