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I had meant to post the results of the signing right after it happened, or at the latest the next day, but things happened (as they often do) and I did not get to. I will recap on it all to the best of my memory.

We got up early on 4/20 and began getting ready. The signing at Bookman’s was not until eleven but we wanted to get there at least thirty minutes early to set up. Once we had everything packed and ready we headed out, dropped our two year old daughter off at her great grandparents, grabbed some drinks from the gas station, and drove toward Bookman’s.

The Bookman’s on Speedway and Wilmot shares a shopping area with several other stores and restaurants. Like most shopping centers and malls, they all share a big parking lot. To my dismay over half of the entire parking lot was closed off for repair, on a Saturday. We have visited Bookman’s many times on the weekend and it is always super busy. There have been many Saturday evenings were we have gone and barely found a parking spot–now that lot had been cut in half. We drove around the asphalt, weaving in and out of parking rows for ten or fifteen minutes before we finally found one. It just so happened to be the furthest spot from the book store.

It was about fifteen til eleven now and we were only just getting out of the car. I grabbed the giant Tupperware (or that’s what I call those big clear plastic tote things) full of heavy books and followed Kayla in. As soon as we entered I noticed a group of people crammed into a corner to my right but didn’t see any signs indicating that was where we were supposed to go. We wandered over and found the organiser of it all who let us know we could sit at one of the tables in that corner, or that there were a few other tables spread around the store. I am still not sure if it was the best decision but we decided to go with that large group up front. After Kayla was situated at her three feet of table I walked around and looked at the location of all the other tables. No one had taken any of them yet. I was tempted to ask Kayla to uproot from her spot and go to the one back near the paranormal/urban fantasy section, as that is the same genre of her books, but it was nearing eleven and it would have been a huge hassle to pick everything up and move it across this huge store. For better or worse, this is where she would sign books for the next two hours.

As she sat there selling and signing books I mingled a bit with some of the other authors there. I approached some, others approached me. I was quite surprised to see that everyone there was quite a bit older than we are. The next youngest most likely being twenty or more years Kayla’s senior. There is nothing wrong with that of course, just an observation. Another thing I noticed was that very few people there were providing fiction books. In fact, none were authors of fiction in any category close to Kayla’s. The lady to my wife’s right was selling books about training dogs to alert their diabetic owners when their blood sugar was too high, low, etc. The man to her left had a book that was mainly comprised of letters and diaries from soldiers during World War 2. His Uncle had been a pilot during that war. One author had a photography book, another had a book about happiness and how to obtain it. I noted only one other author with a clear fictional novel. He called it an ‘outdoors mystery’. It was basically an adventure book about the rugged outdoors.

I want to pause a moment more before I get back to Kayla’s signing to talk about how amazed I was that all the authors I talked to seemed so unknowledgable about publishing. I do not want to step on toes at all or put myself out as some sort of expert, but many of these people were clueless. I will relate an event that happened while Kayla and I were still setting up her table.

One of the authors from across the room approached me and the conversation went a little like this.

“Hi there, where did you guys get your books printed. They look nice.” (Author)
“Createspace.” (Me)
“Createspace, what is that?”
“It’s the paperback print on demand company that Amazon owns/is affiliated with.”
“Are you saying your books are on Amazon?”
“Yep.”
“How did you do that?”
“We just uploaded the file to KDP – Kindle Direct Publishing. Just type KDP into Google and go to the top link, it will get ya started.”
“But how do they know what to put?”
“What do you mean?”
“How do they know what your book is.”
“You upload it.”
“Upload it?”
“Yeah…did you write your book on the computer?”
“Yeah, I made it on the computer.”
“Well you get that formatted for Kindle, then just upload it and they sell it.”
“So Amazon just gives people who want to buy your book your email address and then you talk to the customer and send them the book?”
“…no it is digital…”
“Digital?”
“Yeah, they can buy an e-book of it so they can read it on their computers or on tablets, phones, and that sort of stuff.”
“But how do the customers contact you so you know they want your book?”

At this point I was starting to have a hard time explaining it to her. I realized I was not dealing with someone that didn’t understand how to use KDP, I was dealing with someone that didn’t even understand the concept of the new revolution in self publishing. This lady had gone through some local vanity press and spent thousands that she will probably never earn back. I am sorry to be blunt but it is the truth. I did my best to explain things to her until the event started and she thanked me, wrote down some websites, and went back to her side of the room. And no, the conversation above was not exaggerated…if anything I toned it down.

I was stunned.

A similar scenario repeated itself at least two more times during the event, although to lesser extents. I tried my best to let them all know things that I have learned. They were all amazed that we sell literally 300-500 times more digital copies than print. E-books aren’t the future I told them. E-books are now. If you don’t have that self-published paperback available in digital ink on Amazon, Nook, iPad, etc…you are missing out on tons of money.

Now, back to the event. I was disappointed with it altogether. I am extremely thankful to the host, Bookman’s, and the organizer…I just know it could have been better. A lot better. The lady hosting it admitted to us all that it was the most authors they had ever had. (I think there were about fifteen.)

I will go in order of things I think could have been improved with ease, to make a better signing event for both the authors and, more importantly, the customers.

First off, there was no advertisement for the event. I don’t mean to sound like they should have made radio announcements and TV commercials; I am not talking about paid advertisement at all. Bookman’s did not even advertise the event on it’s own website! To find the event you needed to go to their website, then go to their events calendar. There was no Facebook post prior to the event or on the day of. There was no tweet. There was nothing. The only thing at all to let people know there was an event going on aside from a mark on their calendar was a tiny sign inside the store. The sign was about six inches by eight inches and stood on a four foot metal pole right in front of the author signing area. Most people that came over to the tables were family or friends of one of the authors attending, or an occasional Bookman’s shopper who saw the sign.

The next thing was how crowded the signing area was. I understand that Bookman’s was not getting any compensation for hosting this, and as I said before I am very thankful and grateful for them doing the event, but they could have made a little more room. The tables were set up in a U shape; the entrance for customers to walk into this little alcove of authors was maybe five feet across. Well over half the time of the event this entrance was completely blocked by people talking to the two authors at the end tables. I watched many people stand there for a little bit, looking over the blockers’ shoulders to see what was going on, then walking off to browse the store because they couldn’t get through. There were also many times when a family group would be standing in front of Kayla’s neighbor and blocking people from seeing Kayla’s stuff. It was unintentional, but was detrimental and could not be helped in such an unopened space. This could have been fixed in a way that would have not taken up any extra store space. I believe the organizer should have had the author’s tell her their genre. Then set up spaces in the section the author was writing the same genre as. For instance, Kayla would have had a table in the Teen/YA/Paranormal area. The man to her left would have had a table in the Military History section. The lady to the right would have been in either the pet books or health section. This would have put just a few authors at each pace throughout the store. The customer’s who were interested in those types of books and was coming there to browse them anyway would then be face-to-face with an author from their genre. There would be plenty of room around them to see their wares as well as talk. I intend to send this suggestion to Bookman’s for their next event in July.

The time limit was the next problem. The signing was only two hours long. The space was not being used for anything else so I think letting the signing run longer would have been great. Even having the event run in the evening instead of lunch time would have been better.

The last thing is something I had already commented on. The parking. This one was not Bookman’s fault at all, but it did suck. I saw lines of cars leave after not finding a spot. Kayla’s own parents almost gave up and left before finally finding a place fifteen to twenty minutes later.

All in all it was a fun experience. Kayla sold and signed nine books. Most of the other authors there unfortunately sold none. I got to network a bit and got some contact information from other local authors who are just now starting to discover the digital revolution. I will send my constructive criticism to Bookman’s and sign us up for July. Hopefully they improve on everything and it is even better than this one. Even if not, though, we will go and have some fun. And who knows, maybe I will have something out by then. We will see.

As always, thanks for reading!

Written By: Adam Poe (34 Posts)

Adam works hard but tries not to take himself too seriously. He is the second-best author in his household, and has published a total of zero books under his own name. When he isn't spending his time writing things that never happened or wondering if he was born either 3,000 years late or 3,000 years early, he can be found hugging the air-conditioner in his home near Phoenix.