When I received news that my novel Roseflower Creek was to be published, I got overly excited. And when the day arrived for my first booksigning I was still pretty much flying high. Not even the article I read about booksignings being a lesson in humiliation could dampen my spirits. It said if you’re an unknown author, usually only two people attend your event: your mother and the person who booked it. I arrived at the book store early and spied the stack of my debut novels prominently placed near the front door. A desk and chair awaited me. I took my seat and quickly realized the article I’d read was most likely right. No line appeared in front of me. Then something exciting happened. A woman walked in the front door, spotted me sitting at the table and approached. She said she’d be delighted to purchase a copy. Since I wasn’t expecting many people to attend a booksigning for an unknown author, I’d brought along a book to read so I wouldn’t feel so foolish sitting there by my lonesome. It was a copy of Terry Kay’s Taking Lottie Home, which had just been released. Excited that I would be autographing a copy of my book for the very first time, I quickly opened the front cover and wrote: In honor of the written word, and signed my name. The women tucked the book under her arm and proceeded to the check-out line. Shortly thereafter she reappeared at my table and explained that she wanted a copy of Roseflower Creek and handed the book back to me.
Imagine how silly I felt when I realized I’d signed Terry Kay’s Taking Lottie Home! I learned my lesson. I no longer bring a book to read at my signings.
During my book tour the following month I was slated to appear at three stores in North Carolina that were in cities close enough to each other that I could stay at the same Hampton Inn. I’d be there two nights and three days as I had one signing set up per day. The first event was at a Barnes and Noble and everything went very well. I even managed to sell a dozen books. The next day I arrived at a Borders store and discovered I was not scheduled to sign that day at that location. The young girl at the information desk said she’d call the manager and see if he could sort out what had happened. It wasn’t hard to figure out. This was Wednesday. I was scheduled to sign on Thursday. I’d mixed up the stores. I arrived an hour late to the signing I was to be at in the first place and had to explain I’d gone to the wrong store. I told a small fib to cover my embarrassment, exclaiming that I’d been to so many book signings that month my head was swimming and to forgive my confusion. I learned to be more careful when reading my schedule and it never happened again.
Several years later at a book conference I was presenting at, I drew a nice crowd and was prepared to do my very best in presenting Bring Your Characters to Life. During a short introduction of my publishing history, I was interrupted by a conference staff member who had an announcement to make. She stepped up to the podium, a stack of papers in her hand, and explained that several of the remaining sessions had to be reassigned to different locations (she gave no reason and I didn’t ask.) and she would be passing out copies of the changes. She picked up the stack of papers she’d brought with her and made sure each attendee received one.
Now I was ready to begin my presentation. I looked down for my carefully typed notes that had all the information I would be sharing clearly spelled out. I needed those notes because I have trouble memorizing and it was the only way I’d be able to follow through with my presentation. But, my notes were nowhere in sight! I searched through my handouts that I planned to pass out later, but they weren’t there either. I panicked. I’d never be able to do the presentation without my notes to guide me. I apologized to the class, explaining my notes had disappeared and perhaps the woman who’d arrived to hand out the conference changes had picked them up by mistake. I went looking for her, catching up with her at another session. Sure enough, she had my notes tucked at the back of her stack of papers. Thankfully, she hadn’t them out by mistake or I would have had to kill myself. So far I’ve never lost track of my notes again when presenting at book conferences, but I always bring along an extra copy just to be sure I have a back-up plan in place.
Any other authors out there with embarrassing events to share? I’d love to hear them. I won’t feel so alone in my stupidity.
Jackie Lee Miles is the author of Roseflower Creek, Cold Rock River, Divorcing Dwayne, and All That’s True. Visit the website at http://www.jlmiles.com. Write the author at Jackie@jlmiles.com.