Monday, October 11, 2010

The Glamor of a Book Signing

On Sunday I traveled along the Blue Ridge Parkway to the historic Orchard at Altapass where I'd been invited to do a book signing.
Normally, I avoid events where I just sit at a table and hope someone will stop by and purchase a book. But I'd never been to the Orchard -- a 102 year old apple orchard high in the Blue Ridge Mountains -- and this is a great time of year to take a drive on the Parkway.  The leaves, though not at their peak, are nonetheless really pretty.
The old orchard is quite lovely.

  I snapped a few pictures before proceeding to the building where a table was waiting for me.
Like any bower bird, I arranged my wares in as tempting a way as I could manage and settled down to wait. And wait. And wait. People would walk by my table, scowl at the books as if they hated reading or carefully look away.  

At last a lady came toward me. I straightened up and prepared to be charming. 
'Are you the one that made the butterfly boxes?' she asked, then glanced at the table. 'Oh, those aren't butterfly boxes.' Her mouth turned down.

"No, those are books,' I said to her retreating back.

And then -- a miracle! 'Are you Vicki Lane?' squealed a young woman. She'd read my first book and was anxious to buy more. Hurrah! (Thanks, Kim!)

Next I had a pleasant chat with a fellow who said he liked police procedurals -- which my books most definitely are not. He was followed by someone who wanted to know how to get published and another someone who said, 'You're a celebrity! Can I shake your hand?'

A few people came and chatted and left; some actually bought books. I was asked if the apples for sale came in smaller bags (I didn't know) and where the bathroom was (I pointed.) And I chatted with another aspiring author.

A sweet-looking lady lingered in front of my table and I did the standard thing of asking if she read mysteries. She looked at me in some confusion and then said that she was reading her Bible for the third time.

A brisk woman came  up to the table. 'So, Vicki, tell me about your books.' I did and she asked, 'Are they for sale today?' when I assured her that they were, she nodded and left, never to return.

But there were quite a few who come and chatted and bought, enough to make me feel good about the day.  And the nice folks at the Orchard sent me home with a big bag of apples.
And I had the pleasure of the drive home, with the late afternoon sun illuminating the leaves.

Ah, the glamorous life of the author!


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42 comments:

Marilyn said...

Oh I did enjoy reading about the glamour of an author at a book signing!I am looking forward to receiving my book from Amazon.

Bernie said...

I had the impression in my mind that a book signing was sore faces from smiling and cramped fingers from writing for hours. This opened my eyes a bit my friend, I'm sure your book will sell very well and I would think your autograph would be a bonus. Good Luck sweetie......:-) Hugs

Joan said...

Oh Vicki this did make funny reading. I really chuckled at the likes of the lady who had read her bible three times and the one who asked were the books for sale and then disappeared. What a study in human nature.

Joan said...

PS ..I am loving number one book. I keep imagining Elizabeth is about my age. I like her.

Martin H. said...

People watching is a favourite pastime of mine. You certainly encountered a few characters at your book signing, didn't you? But, as we've said before, nothing is wasted where a writer's concerned. Do you think this scenario could pop up in a future novel?

Merisi said...

I have been at events with famous authors and hardly anyone showed up (back when I still lived in Washington, DC), with no books sold. These were authors who traveled from afar, over oceans, far from their families and no friend in the city.

I am so glad there were people interested in buying your books. Considering the remote location it seems quite a success! I imagine most were there to pick apples and did not expect to "Meet the Author"!

I remember the one or other chance encounter in a bookstore with a writer was signing books. I once met Jane Fonda, at a Border's, and I felt so awkward because I did not know anything about her book and had no interest in purchasing it (at least not right there and then). I was quite relieved when the PR handler arrived and I could disappear (and yes, she looks even better in person!).

Pat in east TN said...

I did get a kick out of the various reactions/questions that came your way, and I will say one thing ... these folks don't know what they're missing!

Brian Miller said...

smiles. sounds like fun...and now we know where your characters come from...book signings...lol. beautiful country....

My Carolina Kitchen said...

I'm thrilled to hear that you sold some books there. I couldn't help but picture the lady who read her Bible and smile. It's amazing what some people will say.

Many years ago Dan Rather came to a big store in Houston on a book tour. Because I worked there, I was allowed (it was a no no) to have my picture taken with him. I have hung on to the book even though I'm not so fond of him today, just because it's signed and the experience of meeting him. Silly isn't is.

The Blue Ridge Parkway is gorgeous, no matter what time of the year you visit. Great photos.
Sam

KarenB said...

Payment comes in odd forms sometimes - a bag of apples and a lovely drive instead of a check! Enjoy the beautiful fall weather.

Do you know if Day of Small Things will be for sale at B'con? I'd like to get a signed copy for my mother.

nidynoddy said...

We enjoy the Orchard on weekends no matter what season. The music is always wonderful and watching the grace of the dancers is always amazing. Even our teenage grandson enjoys sitting for several hours with their old grandparents just listening and watching. It is as good as it gets.

Tammy said...

Your post about being an author is exactly how I felt about blogging...I love to write but felt like you did...kind of exposed and vulnerable and people just didn't seem to get it.

I just finished your book, "Signs in the Blood", enjoyed it very much and picked up your new one "The Day of Small Things" yesterday at our local Barnes & Noble. I'm really looking forward to reading it!

Carol@The Writers Porch said...

Well as one who has read ALL of your books my thoughts are:

" It is their loss " and they would have really enjoyed reading your book while eating one of those fresh apples! :)

Kath said...

How charming! I'm hoping the brisk woman was asking about whether your books were for sale so she could reassure a shyer person who did buy.
I noticed our trees are showing gold down the hill to the river. How glorious. I was afraid the drought would strip the trees.
Thank you again and again for the photos.
Kath

willow said...

Oh, hee hee! At least you enjoyed some great people watching. The butterfly box and bible reading ladies gave me a chuckle. People. ((sigh))

Deanna said...

We've traveled the Blue Ridge Parkway several times. Such a pretty drive.

I have already devoured "The Day of Small Things" and would have been the gushing fan would that I live close enough to attend a book signing. Jim is actually reading "Small Things", having picked it up int the ummmm "reading room" and gotten hooked!

I had to laugh at your accounting of the book signing. And here I thought it'd be all glamour.

Jill said...

That section of the parkway is so beautiful! Sounds like a great people watching experience.

Vicki Lane said...

Unless one is a big, big name, even a signing at a bookstore -- where everyone who comes in is probably a book lover -- may be a lonely occasion. And at an apple orchard, when people aren't there to but books -- well, as I said, I did better than I'd expected.

And as several of you said, it's a great opportunity for people watching. Some of the outfits- it was a warm day -- very short shorts, puffy boots, a skin tight camisole top and a muffler was one that caught my eye...

Will this scene show up in a book, Martin? Hmm, Elizabeth's daughter Rosemary is a writer...

Joan -- so glad you're liking Elizabeth! I feel sure she'd like you.

I'm always kind of amazed (and exceedingly grateful) when ANYONE shows up, Merisi. And I totally understand the averted eyes. As I said, I rarely do this sort of thing but the owners of the Orchard are such nice folks and they asked me...

Karen B. -- It should be for sale there -- they generally make sure to have books from all the authors on panels.

Tammy and Deanna - so glad you're enjoying it!

I really didn't mean to sound complaining -- I know that not everyone enjoys reading and not all readers would enjoy my books. I think I was trying to dispel some of the misconceptions some folks have (as I did once) about the glamorous life of an author.

Louise said...

Oh dear! You made me laugh. I loved that glimpse into a book signing. Even if it wasn't quite what I imagined.

Alan Burnett said...

It looks like a glorious spot. Now if you ever do a book signing in West Yorkshire make sure you let me know!

NCmountainwoman said...

Very funny! Somehow I didn't realize that if you read the Bible it has to be to the exclusion of everything else.

Glad you had a good day, a lovely drive, a few laughs and apples too! And even sold a few books. Plus you made some folks happy to meet someone famous. And I'm sure the orchard was a great place to people watch!

Tammy said...

Oh too funny! From traumatizing little kids to 'imposing' on apple buying customers, it sounds like you have had a busy time. I love your comments on the folks at the apple orchard---the way they scowled at the books or avoided looking. It's not quite the same, but setting up booths for the fiber products has been one of the harder things I've had to do. Either the people, as you say,scowl (like what is THAT??), look away or are filled with a million questions--some that make absolutely no sense, so that you get the idea they just like to hear themselves talk. Keeping positive, friendly and making eye contact all day long can sure be exhausting! I'm glad you sold enough to make it worth your while, and of course all that fodder for future books. I am always interested and often amazed at what folks are wearing too (or for that matter how they interact with each other). People watching can be entertaining for sure.
Tammy

Michele said...

What a waste. I, dear Vickie, would drive a long way to see you and buy signed copies of your books, and if that drive included leaves turning red and orange in mid-October I would be over the moon. (Our leaves are long gone)

FOLKWAYS NOTEBOOK said...

Some where I read on the internet that stumbling blocks become stepping stones. Not that your event was a stumbling block but it did sound a bit like a trial. So I guess what I am saying is that you were able, in the end, to turn the event into another stepping stone. -- barbara

Vicki Lane said...

Alan, you shall be the first to know if I ever sign books is West Yorkshire.

Ah, you know what I'm talking about, Tammy! I've done craft fairs in the past with quilted stuff and that too is a study in human nature.

All in all, it was fun -- and certainly worth a blog post.

Friko said...

O, the excitement of it all!

People can be stupid, can't they?

But at least you did enjoy your day and meeting some friendly and intelligent souls as well.

jennyfreckles said...

Oh, at least you can see the funny side - and it looks a lovely spot to visit, and you got some apples. One day they'll all wish they'd bought a signed first edition.

PS Is it only me that can't read the orange letters on pink?

Vicki Lane said...

Done and done, Jennyfreckles! I kept meaning to change those ... thanks for the shove!

Mama-Bug said...

Vicki sounds like you managed to make the best out of it! All that beautiful scenery and fresh apples too! I would loved to have bought books from you that day. Have a wonderful week and enjoy this glorious autumn.

marĂ­a cecilia said...

Dearest Vicki, you are the sweetest!!! I have so enjoyed (and laughed) reading what your glamorous writer day was like...and best of all to me is knowing how humble you seem to be by telling this to us... you have encouraged me so much to just be myself...
hugs,

Beth E said...

I was one of those that came by and bought a book at your book signing - The Day of Small Things. We were on a weekend trip with my Mother. On our way home to Maryland yesterday I began your book and am now thru 9 chapters.

As a small town girl from the mountains of Virginia, that now lives outside of and works in the craziness of Washington, DC, thank you for your book which is taking me back to a simpler time and way of life.

Vicki Lane said...

Thank you, Mamabug and Maria Cecilia! (I don't have much problem being humble, MC)

And Beth! It's folks like you that make signings worthwhile! Thanks for taking a chance and thanks for letting me hear from you! Hope you enjoy it all the way through!

Judith Alef said...

Amazing what folks will say to the poor artist sitting there at their mercy. Glad you had a visual feast driving home. I was a studio weaver/potter 30yrs ago in east TX. During festival folks would jam my small space, rub hands over fragile pieces as I sat spinning wool. It never failed one would always comment that "if I bought my yarn a K-Mart I wouldn't have to charge a fortune for my weavings! Then the day I was pulling up clay for a large bowl and the woman asked if I could throw a chicken. I told to get me one and I'd see how far I could send it. :~)

Vicki Lane said...

Oh, yes, Judith, pr the ever popular--I could do this myself if I had the time...

Markin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Markin said...

Oh, I can't count the times when I ended up buying a book I didn't want because I felt sorry for that poor author, just sitting there all belonely 'neath a sign, humbled and feeling small. (Paraphrasing.) I generally blame the venue for not providing enough publicity. Leave it to you to turn it into a positive experience, though.

Those who didn't buy Day of Small Things missed out on one heck of a good thing. I read it over the weekend -- magic, pure magic. Your prose is really beginning to sing, here.

Mario

p.s. sorry for deleting and reposting -- forgot to sign.

Vicki Lane said...

Me too, Mario! And truly, considering it wasn't a bookstore or reading-related venue, I did right well.

And I'm so glad you enjoyed Birdie's story!

Markin said...

I must admit I at first kept waiting for Birdie to show up ... but it did slowly dawn on me. I'll never be able to "see" Birdie again through the same eyes, if you know what I mean. For that matter, that whole world just sort of skewed off a little from what I'd "known". It's now so much richer.

And, yes, given that you were at an apple-selling venue ... [shakes head with a laugh]

Mario

Vicki Lane said...

Yes. I really wanted to play with the idea of how the cute little old lady had a very unexpected past. You'll have to keep your eye on her now...

Vicki Lane said...

Yes. I really wanted to play with the idea of how the cute little old lady had a very unexpected past. You'll have to keep your eye on her now...

Tipper said...

LOVED THIS POST! Hilarious-and so real too ; )

Susan M. Bell said...

Darn it. I missed you and I live right down the road from there. I had planned on going, and honestly I forgot, but since I had a minor accident on that Saturday and am to this day hobbling along on a cane, I don't think I would have made it anyway. I sure hope this won't be your last visit to the Orchard. I will be at the next one. :-)