Saturday, February 16, 2008

Guest Blogger: Maryann Miller on Book Signing Experience

We've all encountered good and bad experiences at author events. I'd like to welcome guest blogger Maryann Miller describing her worst experience at a book signing.

Whenever I travel I like to try to do a little book promoting when I can, so a couple of years ago I arranged a signing at a senior center where my mother lives and one at a nursing home where my mother-in-law lived. I contacted the activities directors at both facilities well in advance to schedule the events, and both assured me that there were lots of avid readers among the residents and they would love to meet an author.

At the senior center about fifteen people stayed after lunch to hear me speak, and I even sold a few books. My mother was thrilled to introduce her daughter, the writer, and it was a fun afternoon. The residents were eager to talk about books and writing, and seemed equally thrilled to meet a writer.

Two days later, I made my appearance at the nursing home. I was scheduled to follow the late-afternoon bingo game when folks would already be assembled and willing to stay since dinner would immediately follow the talk. I stepped to the microphone the bingo caller left live for me and introduced myself to the audience of about twenty.

They were not an easy crowd.

I knew I was starting to lose them when a gentleman sitting up front asked if I was ever going to get the glass of water he’d asked for an hour ago. Then three women got up and left, muttering loudly that they must be in the wrong place since dinner wasn’t coming yet and it was past time.
In an effort to salvage something – anything – I abandoned my prepared speech and tried to engage the rest of the audience on a more personal level. I asked if they liked to read. One woman said she couldn’t read but she liked to sing. I told her that was nice and tried to engage someone else, but she interrupted to ask if I’d like to hear something. Before I could respond, she launched into a lusty version of You Are My Sunshine.

The other residents cheered when she was finished, so I took the hint. We spent the rest of the hour in a sing-along.

I guess I should have taken my guitar instead of my books.

Maryann Miller

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