Monday, March 2, 2020

Tales from a Book Tour: That time an iron fish didn't eat me at Auntie's Bookstore

You may recall my trepidation at doing a book-signing, having not done those well with my first book and then completely avoiding them with my second. I arrived on time at Auntie's Books in downtown Spokane, and the person at the counter had no idea who I was or why I would be there until I kept saying Claire. Claire knows. And then someone dashed off to find Claire.

The fish
Once I sat at my little table and set up, I looked up to find this metal fish staring at me, which it would do for the next two hours. But! Friends, the threat of being eaten by a sculpture coupled with my general fear of people, perhaps created an atmosphere that only success could thrive in. The actual result was fantastic! In the first 1.5 hours, I signed six books—five of Hezada! and one of The Whole World at Once. Bonus: I had very good conversations with the readers who came by.

  • The first visitor was a child who attends the preschool where I spend my days, with her mother. That did so much to settle me and boost my confidence. Luckily, I had two balloons taped to the table, so I gave my child-friend one of those. She left pleased, and I stayed, pleased.
  • Another visitor was a former Shriner and remembered promoting the circus.
  • One woman was browsing books because her daughter was in the hospital, and we discussed how her daughter didn't like her name, but neither had she liked her own name, and so what's one to do? 
  • A woman walked past several times with more books in her arms every time, before she stopped, we hit it off, and she had a copy signed for her daughter's birthday. She said her daughter didn't like sad books. She asked if my book was sad. I said, It's only the saddest book in the world. And then we laughed because it was true, but here we were, and I hope to hear from her one day.
  • A couple came by because the woman had read about the book in the Spokesman Review, and having lived in a rural town in Nebraska wanted to read the book. Her husband grew up in Champaign, Illinois, so we talked of all the towns they'd been to near where I grew up. In this way, we became fast friends, although her husband was sure to say that she's the one who wanted to read the book, not him. Ha!
  • One man stopped and asked me to convince him to buy my book. For some reason, I tried. Later, I thought about how that wasn't my job and I could just say, You could start reading it. I think I saw him later that night when we were out at dinner, but I wasn't sure. I hope he took my business card so that he could buy the book online. But what is anyone supposed to say to a writer at a table in the middle of a bookstore? 
  • A woman stopped who was taking her granddaughter about looking at books, but then the woman came over near me and felt she didn't have time for a novel, but took the story collection.
  • A man just come into town on the airplane, who'd grown up in rural Pennsylvania, and who said he might start crying if I keep telling him about my book. And then he left to wander and my time was up, so I packed up.
In all, I think I exchanged smiles with at least twenty other people. One woman shouted that she could tell I was happy. Maybe I was. I complimented another woman on her shoes and all the books she was carrying. She paused to smile and exchange pleasant words. My new polka-dot leggings were uncomfortable, but they're polka-dots, so I'll keep them.

At the end, I signed the remaining books for Auntie's to sell. 

So. In all, I'd say it went pretty well. And, it was so useful to have the circus book and my photo album there to refer to, which helped me think while I talked. I never found my circus posters, though. I wonder where they are.

The book-signing table


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