Monday, August 24, 2009

Book Signings That Rock

by Mindy Friddle

Since our proposed topic is the good, the bad, and the ugly of book signings-- I thought I'd concentrate on the good. I mean, enough with the bad and ugly already, right? I don't know about you, but I've had it with that phrase "in this economy." Yeah, it's challenging out there-- but there's good stuff going on, too--inventive, creative events. Especially with book signings. Lately, I've attended or been part of a number of readings and book signings that had something in common: these were successful author events part of a reading series. Groups of readers showed up and bought books.

One example: Litchfield Books' The Moveable Feast, which features literary luncheons with authors at restaurants on Fridays. Tickets are usually $25 each. Books are sold at the luncheons and at the bookstore afterward. I've been honored to do to the Moveable Feast twice as an author-- and both times were fantastic: a roomful of attentive readers.

There are also library-sponsored readings: the Georgia Center for the Book is, again, masterful at organizing author events and cultivating groups of readers who attend and buy books.

There are scads more-- savvy bookstores and libraries and colleges who put together author events that pretty much guarantee that readers will show up. The key, I think, is that they bring the readers to you, the author...they help build a community of readers and writers.

So maybe you live in a place that has no reading series? No author luncheons? No way to bring authors and readers together? Consider starting one. Really! In our community here in Greenville, SC we have a reading series called The Reading Room, sponsored by the nonprofit Emrys Foundation, featuring regional writers who are published and read nationally. We invite [and pay modest honoraria] to poets, novelists, and essayists of the Southeast to read from their work, ask questions of them, and enjoy fellowship with other friends of the arts. [A bookstore is on hand to sell their books.]

And local independent bookstore Fiction Addiction is launching a NEW luncheon series here called Book Your Lunch providing "the ultimate food for thought" with a wide range of authors -- from mystery writers, to award-winning regional novelists to nonfiction and cookbook authors. The series kicks off Sept. 1 with debut novelist Amanda Gable, author of The Confederate General Rides North.

Hey, you can even host readings in your home! [see Poets & Writers article: "thanks to a growing trend in grassroots marketing and publicity, writers in the San Francisco Bay area are reading to packed houses—literally.]

Necessity is the mother of invention-- that old saw is apt. It sure sharpens the entrepreneurial spirit.

Mindy Friddle is the author of THE GARDEN ANGEL (St. Martin's Press/Picador) and SECRET KEEPERS (St. Martin's Press). Visit and her blog, Novel Thoughts: On Reading, Writing & the Earth to read excerpts from her novels, interviews with authors, book reviews, and random musings.


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I grew up in Anderson (I live in Charlotte, now), so it looks like we're neighbors! :)

Great points in your post. I love the idea of shaking up the traditional book signing and making it more fun.

Mystery Writing is Murder

Mindy said...

Absolutely. I bet Anderson would be a good place for a new reading series...