Signings funny and not-so

Posted by: Lisa Hendrix
Currently Working On: Immortal Champion and losing 45 pounds
Mood: Exposed (see my new weight-loss blog, New Year, New Ass, and find out why). Also sad (see my regular blog for this one).
I have no funny signing stories of my own, so I’m going to tell one on Stella Cameron that I’ve heard her tell many times:
Some years ago, Stella was at a group signing in a mall in Washington state.  As per usual, she had set out a bowl of M&Ms by her spot and was merrily signing books when a nice-looking lady came up, picked up the bowl of M&Ms and…wait for it…dumped them into her purse. 
ALL of them.
In her PURSE!
Stella is a genteel English woman, and in her shock and dismay, said nothing at all as the woman walked off. When she recovered, she got more M&Ms, refilled the bowl, and continued signing books.
A little later, the same woman came sauntering back down the mall headed to her car, spotted the fresh M&Ms, and headed for the bowl.  Stella forgot she was a genteel English woman and dove across the table, snatching the M&Ms away just in the nick of time. The woman got huffy. 
With Stella.
My personal story is a little less, um, amusing:
Years ago, I had a Saturday book signing on an island in Puget Sound which shall not be named in case the store owner is reading this (tho’ I doubt the store is still open, and you’ll see why).  This book signing had been set up for nearly three months. There had been several phone calls discussing the signing. All was set.  Then my husband was called out of town on business, so I hurriedly made arrangements with a friend on the same island to watch my then-3-year-old son during the signing. I drove 40 miles or so, took a ferry at some expense, then drove another 10 or 15 miles to the bookstore.

Where I found an old, wobbly card table and two books.
Two.  (Note:  at least they hadn’t lost them, like they did Heather’s)
No tablecloth. No chair. And no freaking ADVERTISING.
Yep, I had schlepped myself and my kid something like 60 car miles and a 40 minute/$6.50 ferry ride (that’s 1994 dollars) to a bookstore where they thought two books made a signing. Thank goodness I had been forewarned about such occurrences. Thanks to advice from Debbie Macomber and Linda Lael Miller, I had, in the back of my car, a paper tablecloth, autographed copy stickers, and—the key to success—a dozen books.

I quickly covered the ugly table, made the store owner find me a chair and a not-too-ugly bowl, ran next door for a giant bag of M&Ms,  a la Stella, and proceeded to sell every available copy–basically one to every other person who happened to walk through the door that day.
These days, I travel with stand-up covers and posters, a real tablecloth sized for banquet tables, duct tape to tailor the tablecloth to a smaller table if needed, markers for sign-making, candy and an unbreakable but nice-looking bowl, stickers, promotional materials and giveaways (bookmarks, postcards, etc.), signing pens that don’t bleed through the book paper, props according to book, various other things to make the table stand out and/or look nice, and at least a CASE of books, and usually a second case full of backlist books.
Always.  Always, always, always.
Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me.  
Stella taught me that. 
How about you?  What have you learned from a romance author about how to take care of/stand up for yourself?


Signings funny and not-so — 4 Comments

  1. Lisa, hooray for you! You are a class act–and no one better to learn that from than Stella Cameron. She is incredible!

    I have also learned to always carry my own books (heard that from Doreen Hight) and my own detail-oriented personality carts along highlighters and other office supplies and chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate–as well as freebies and a basket of goodies to raffle off to those who sign up to be on my mailing list.

    Now, you have me curious enough to go check out your other blogs…

  2. Great going, Lisa! When you’re prepared, there’s little that cn get past you.

    Stella taught me something: When there’s nobody in charge, take charge.

    A few years ago at a conference in San Jose, the hotel seemed to have neglected to tell the bartender he would be serving a very large number of women on Saturday night. Either that or someone had decided we were acually a conference of Women’s Temperence Workers. Anyway, there are only one bartender and no one waiting tables. The orders piled up and people started getting testy.

    Stella stood up, took drink orders from everyone at our table then walked to the bar, where she attempted to deliver her collected order to him.

    He responded in terms I shall call “generically indifferent”. I’ll let you figure out what that means.

    Stella, in her even, genteel, British fashion, requested something along the order of a request for him to please step aside, as she happily take over his duties for him.

    Drinks were served. But it still took Stella to organize everyone into a waiting line.

    The lady’s amazing.

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