Southern Way

Southern Way

Friday, November 21, 2014

A Historian, A Best Selling Author and I walk into an Arts Center

My first experience signing books did not make me feel like Patricia Cornwell. It also did not make me feel like giving up my day job. Wait what day job? I digress.

I was invited by the Arts Center in another town where my photography is sold to sign my books during their holiday open house. When they learned about my two books they were excited and said their audience could relate to them and they would be popular. I called a month or so ago to find out how many I should bring. 

"Well," Alex, the director, said, "Ken Burger [a very accomplished writer] sold over 60 last time he did a signing. But then again he has had three best sellers."

"Yes, but realistically, give me an idea."

After some hem and hawing, Alex suggested maybe 10-15 of each and then I could leave what was left at the center to be sold. I thought some and decided that the last thing I wanted was to completely humiliate myself by showing up with a stack of books and after an evening of a very well attended open house, leave with a stack of books.

So last night I walked in with a small bag containing a 7 copies of each - my idea of a happy medium. Full disclosure I had a large box of more in the car. Those were copies I planned to use as gifts and put in my gallery in town. 

When Alex showed me where to sit my stomach cramped when I saw I was stationed next to Ken Burger, the accomplished best selling author. (His book Baptised by Sweet Tea is a delightful read.) Great, talk about insult to injury. On the other side of Ken was a nice gentleman with his collection of guides and histories of local revolutionary battle grounds. What a group. Ken was most accommodating, of course what did he have to lose.

As soon as the doors opened the crowds poured in, which surprised me. This was a small southern town. But, then again there was free food and wine. Because of everyone's southern upbringing, they were forced to speak to me simply because I was sitting next to the hometown star, whom they all paid homage to. I was quick to stand, offer my hand, and introduce myself. The more polite ones asked about my books. The interested ones were actually engaged and asked questions.

One or two bought books and asked me to sign them. Then one lady walked up. "I need three sets and would you please sign one set each to Susan, Roseanne, and Skippy. That's S-K-I-P-P-Y." 

Whoa, I thought that's 8 out of 14 books. Meanwhile I felt for the history author. Everyone was very polite and spoke to him about everything but his books. Everyone who came in knew Ken. And overall he sold several books. Suddenly I realized I was down to 2 books and this nice lady was asking for two of my wedding books. I politely asked her to give me a second. I quickly went to the front of the center where my books were displayed and yanked a bunch of copies off the shelf.

The evening went on and the stack in front of me continued to slowly decrease. One lady came up, introduced herself as an English Lit professor at the local college. Then she said, "I have read your book. I like the way you write. The book is well done. I would like to buy one." I thanked she as she picked the book up. 

Another lady and her daughter approached the table and picked up the wedding book. "I'm a little late for this one. We just had her [referring to her daughter standing next to her] wedding." She looked at the title. "And I wore a blue dress." I quickly explained, as humorously as I could, the story of the blue dress. She chatted for a moment and put the book down. I wished her Happy Holidays and she and her daughter walked off. 

Later on I saw the mother and daughter in the book section of the center looking through the wedding book. And next thing I knew she was back at the table asking me to sign a book for her. I happily signed it and  thanked her for buying it.

It wasn't long before I found myself making my way to my car to fetch more copies. When all was said and done, I had books left over that the Arts Center could keep but I had none to take home. In the big scheme of things this was not much, but I was very surprised. I was so busy talking about my book I never saw if anyone purchased my photography, although several people commented about it. 

Everyone needs an evening like that to boost their moral. At least I did not humiliate myself sitting next to a best selling author. 

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