Ever Been to an Author Signing?

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I mentioned in a post earlier this week that I’ve been to a couple of author events. They were for authors T. Jefferson Parker and Steve Hamilton. Now you may not know either of them, but they have both won two Edgars. I’ve written about the Edgars and they are a HUGE deal when it comes to mystery writing. And both of these guys have won an award twice. Not an easy feat.

Let me tell you about the actual events. They were both held in a small indie bookstore by the name of Murder by the Book here in Houston. And let me tell you, ALL of the big mystery authors who go on tour come to this store. There are a couple other indie stores in Houston who have author events, but I’d have to think that this is the most successful. Anyway, the events I attended were pretty much exactly the same. Both times the author spoke for maybe 20 minutes or a half hour and then started signing everyone’s books. The 20 minutes may not seem like much, but if you listen you can learn quite a bit about them. I know I did.

The best part for me was definitely when they signed my books. I think I got four signed by both. I don’t feel like snapping pictures, but trust me that they’re signed. AND another great thing that I learned was that both of these famous authors who have surely sold millions of books are no different from anyone else you might know. T. Jefferson Parker helped me get my hands on a couple of his books that were unavailable from any of the major retailers. And Steve Hamilton snapped a photo! How freaking cool were they?

I have some minimal experience as an author on the other side. Maybe some of you know that I had a signing at my university all the way back in November. It happened just a couple of weeks after my book was released and I had a lot of fun. I sold all but four of the books I’d taken with me. And I’d had classes with a bunch of the guys who were pretty happy to see that I’d written a book literally right out of school. Of course, I never heard anything from any of the 21 people who bought one that day. So who knows what they thought of the actual writing.

The point of this post is to tell you all that I think author events or signings are actually pretty great. I don’t think they necessarily drive many new readers the author’s way, but I’m certain that plenty of his or her regular readers will attend events year after year. And it gives the author the opportunity to interact with readers in a manner that social media or other public appearances just don’t allow.

Two things: Have you ever been to an author event? Or have you ever had one of your own?

This was from my signing. It was CJ Majors Day.

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This is NYT bestselling author Steve Hamilton. Oh my goodness. This was three years ago, I was teeny tiny with braces and just ugh.

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Answering a Question I’m Often Asked: How did you actually write the book?

I posted last week about my successful first signing on the campus of my alma mater. I managed to sell 21 of the 25 books I took with me and discussed how great the overall experience was for me. Well, I was asked many questions by students and faculty alike and I’d like to take the opportunity to answer the single most asked question of me.

“How did you actually write the book?”

Remember this was being asked by college students who often express frustration with writing a very short essay on a topic that is likely uninteresting to them. My response was never the same because each time the question was asked by someone with a different point of view on things and with the intent to learn something different from the previous person. But let me see if I can answer it once and for all.

The one thing I told several people was that you’re always told that to be a good a writer or a writer at all that you have to write. And by this it is often meant that you have to write each and every day. I’ve mentioned in several previous posts that I simply don’t believe in this philosophy one bit. If you are forcing yourself to write even when your creative juices seem to be at a stand still, then what exactly are you accomplishing? I’ll tell you, you’re putting bad writing on paper that you’ll have to later edit or remove completely. How does that help you achieve your writing goal? It doesn’t.

My logic is to treat each individual chapter as if it were a college paper. My longest in school was only nine pages and my longest chapter in my first book was fourteen, but most are well within the length of a regular college essay. Doing this allowed for me to focus on a very particular part of the story and sequence of events rather than have me think of where I’d take the characters several chapters down the road. This writing philosophy allowed time for me to perfect a small portion of the story before moving on to the next small portion.

Another aspect of the same question I was asked during my first signing was what I thought of the process to write a book, whether or not I liked it.

This question was a bit more complicated for me to answer. You see, during my last semester of school this past spring I was terrified of the prospect of writing an entire book. I was. I can remember specifically in April becoming incredibly anxious as the semester was winding down to a close. I was scared of not being able to do it. This was all I’d thought about for more than a year and the thoughts that were coursing through my head were beginning to become more and more real because it was coming time to put up or shut up. Thankfully I was able to put those feelings aside and write me a novel. But here’s how I answered this particular question.

I didn’t enjoy the book writing process as much as I’d hoped. I love the story I wrote and the characters I created, but the process to get to this point was pretty rocky. I went weeks at a time without putting a single word on paper and faced holes in the story that I struggled to overcome. I had no idea how the story would end until I reached the last third of the book. And the final major obstacle I faced was getting people wanting to read it. I don’t mean potential readers, I mean people I know on a personal level. I mentioned several posts ago that I sent my book out to nine beta readers and only four actually read it. This is now what’s happening to me trying to get people to buy it. Which is perfectly fine, but also disappointing.

BUT I managed to finish the book and prove to people that I wasn’t just talking about writing a book, I’ve written one!

Don’t forget that my book is also on Kindle for only $2.99 and is part of the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library that allows Prime members with a Kindle the opportunity to borrow the book for free! Take a look at the Amazon product page!

In other news, check out where my book sits on my bookshelf. Right between Edgar award winners and New York Times Bestsellers!

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First Signing Scheduled!

Can you believe that?! My first signing is already scheduled! Honestly, I know how hard it is for any author to have a book signing, so for me to have one within nine days of the release of my first book is pretty awesome. At least I think so.Let’s get into the details as to how this came about.

Today I went to the wonderful university that was nice enough to award me a degree. I actually hadn’t been back since graduating in May and my purpose for this trip was to give a good friend of mine her copy of my book. I also had intentions of meeting with a former professor who has expressed great interest in my writing and asked me to go by her office. Well, as I’m walking up the steps into the building I spot my professor. So we start talking about the book and all kinds of stuff related to really getting the word out about it. Ten minutes passed and my friend was still talking to a professor. So we walk upstairs and my professor discusses my book at length with the top business person of the criminal justice department. For a good five-ten minutes. Then she moves to discuss it with the department chair and she is just running around telling every person who will listen. It was pretty awesome.

We ultimately decided that i should attend the CJ Majors Day that is taking place on Thursday. This event is meant for declared criminal justice majors and also students who have an interest in doing so in the future. There’ll be advising staff and various area police departments recruiting, and me. Who better to pitch my book to than criminal justice students?! I get to make a fancy display and I’ll have a table set up and everything. I’m kind of scared. Really scared.

AND I signed my first book for someone!

Even though I don’t think any of you are in the Houston area, here are the details anyway:

The flyer can be found here.

University of Houston Downtown

Houston, TX 77002

CJ Majors Day

10:00AM-1:00PM Thursday, November 7

C100, Commerce Building