Showing posts with label book signings. Show all posts
Showing posts with label book signings. Show all posts

05 May 2017

First Signing like a First Kiss


 Family Fortnight +  Leading up to the International Day of Families on the 15th of May, we bring you the seventh in a series about mystery writers’ take on families. Settle back and enjoy!
by O'Neil De Noux


Like a first kiss - there has been nothing as good as my first signing. GRIM REAPER was released in 1988, and a local bookstore (back when local bookstores carried my books) had a signing for me. My publisher, Zebra Books coughed up some money (money I later discovered came out of my royalties) and I brought food and drink. My father brought beer of course.

We hoped to sell 30 books and the bookstore (part of a small chain) had 300 shipped in. The big surprise came quickly. A lot of my friends and my family showed up. I come from a big family - my father was one of 12 and my mother was one of 12. At that time, I had 95 first cousins and most of them had kids.


My brother is the tall one in this picture. The one non-family member is the third from the right. She was a retired nun. She was the principal at my grammar school, Our Lady of The Holy Rosary. She sent a note after reading the book, wondering who taught me to curse like that. I blamed it on the Christian Brothers at Archbishop Rummel (where I went to high school). Gotta love a Catholic education. I spent two years at a Jesuit university.


These are some of my aunts, a cousin and one of my sisters. They got all dressed up for this. My Aunt Earline (in red) lived to be 99. My Aunt Bess (second from the right) got married again when she was 80 years old.


My 2-year old son pitched in.

Well, we ran out of books. Sold 300 paperbacks. Never happened again, although my family continued to come to my signings through the 1990s. They don't come anymore. My books are too hardboiled and they haven't given the historicals a chance. You can only read so many curse words, I guess. Such is life.

But I'll always remember that first kiss.

PS: I did not write the promo on the flyer. Vendetta of blood?

www.ONeilDeNoux.com

04 April 2016

Care and Feeding of a Mystery Bookstore


by Jan Grape

It's almost a forgotten thing which is a shame. Independent mystery bookstores. Yes, still a few around but not so many as there were at one time.

My late husband, Elmer, and I were looking for something for him to do when he retired from commercial construction in late 1989. He had been doing handy man work, house inspections prior to their sale and he had decided he was getting to an age where crawling around attics and under floors in the TX heat was not fun anymore.

We discussed a few options and then our daughter, Karla said, "Why don't you open a mystery bookstore? Mom's writing mysteries and you both enjoy reading. Dad can sit around and read." Oddly enough neither of us had thought of it. We came up with the name Mysteries & More.

We talked to a few people who owned a mystery bookstore and got good advice. It only took a few weeks to realize you'd never have enough time to read all the books you wanted to. We also discovered it might be a little better to mainly have used books. We had a swap policy where the customers could trade in books and we kept a record of their credit.

Our store, Mysteries & More, started about twenty percent new and eighty percent used. It soon became 20 to 30 percent new. And we did offer science fiction, biographies, historical, non-fiction and a few romance if they were romantic suspense, but we didn't routinely order anything new except mysteries. However, we did order any new book a customer requested. Thus the & More in our store name.

We rented a nice space in a strip center near our home. Elmer built all the bookcases and the front counter. In the back we had a small rest room and nice little lounge and storage space. In the beginning, we had a couple of chairs so people could sit and read if they felt like it. That didn't last too long because we need more space for bookcases and books. When we first opened, our shelves ran around the sides and across the back. We had to place books on their backs to make the shelves look full. Later on he built more bookcases which lined the middle part of the store.

Elmer & Jan Grape with Bill Crider & Vivian Vaughn
Grand Opening of Mysteries & More
We opened in July, 1990. And our grand opening was on July 9th and our first author signing for that opening was this mystery writer guy who is the second most famous person from Alvin, Texas. His name is Bill Crider. (Most famous, of course, is some baseball player and owner.) We also had a Dallas lady named Vivian Vaughn who wrote historical romantic suspense.

I'm not sure if Susan Rogers Cooper remembers but we met her that day and I think her second book, Houston In The Rear View Mirror had just come out or was due to come out. We asked her to do a signing shortly after that, which I think was her first ever book signing.

We decided to specialize in local authors (Austin and all of Tx and soon included OK, Ark and NM.) I had started attending Bouchercon in the fall and at least one other mystery con in the spring. Edgars, Malice Domestic and Magna Cum Murder or Left Coast Crime. While attending these cons and meeting authors I was able to set up signings with authors who were not regularly doing book signings in Austin. As my husband always said, he ran the store and I talked about it. I did all the promotions and public relations work.
Elmer, Sue Grafton, and Jan

In Austin, at that time, the major bookstores were Book People, B. Dalton and Barnes & Noble. We began ordering author's back list. Like Sue Grafton's. Guess what? The big box stores began ordering back lists to compete with us. Our first signing with Sue Grafton was such a huge success. We ordered 400 copies, sold out and I had to go to B Dalton a couple miles away and buy fifty more books. Fortunately, I had already made friends with the manager. He sold them to me 30% off which was so nice.

Sue likes to stand up while signing because she likes to be on eye level with people. Elmer had built a large table for author signings. He built a box so Sue could stand and sign comfortably. The box sat on the large table he had built that could seat three or four authors at once and we always tried to do a group signing. That way the author didn't feel alone plus if a person only knew and read one author they might meet someone else they liked.

We also did drive-by signings. Authors who were in the area and just called to come by and sign. I'd call a few regular customers and especially if I knew the customer read that author and invite them to come and get a book signed.

Of course, I did signings in my own bookstore. One of the most fun things we did during this time was host a mystery con in Austin. We named it Southwest Mystery Con.We had bid on Bouchercon and didn't get it. We did our presentation in California and the other group bidding was in Seattle, WA. Most fans attending were from CA and they kept thinking they could drive there easier than to Tx. Turned out that was a blessing. It wasn't until we did the Southwest Mystery Con that we realized how much work was involved.

We had 476 people attend and 125 authors. We had BBQ for our banquet and stopped in the middle of dinner to let everyone who wanted to, to go outside and watch the bats fly out from the Congress Avenue Bridge. It was Memorial Day weekend and the Mexican free-tail bats had just returned for the summer.

We had a wonderful volunteer group but Elmer had to handle all the book stores attendees and their placement and spaces in the book room. I handled the programming, the authors, editors, and agents. (I don't know how Judy Bobalik does it.)

We enjoyed the store and were in business until 1999 and we decided that we wanted to buy an RV and travel. We needed to retire and weren't able to sell the store so we liquidated. We traveled for three summers coming back home in the fall until 2002 and we moved into the RV full time. Our store was able to cover expenses but we never made any real money doing it.

It was a labor of love. Of people and of books. This is what most indie bookstore owners say. There are two or three that have made it. But we enjoyed every day of it. We honestly enjoyed the authors, the customers and being able to read new books and help promote new authors.

26 November 2012

Write Your Name Right Here


by Fran Rizer

Shannon as Callie, Fran as Fran, Barbie as Jane        
Several people inquired about the picture of Callie used in my guest blogger post four weeks ago. The young lady shown as the face of Callie Parrish is actually named Shannon.   As John and several other SS'ers have mentioned, one of the fun things about having a book published is book signings.  My first one was at a local Walden's, where I sat at a very small table in the doorway.  Customers couldn't miss me because I blocked the entrance to the store.  The staff treated me great, and we sold all the copies of my first book that they'd ordered.  I also gave away a Moon Pie with each book.

Since that first one in 2007, I've enjoyed signings in lots of places.  They were all fun and they all  gave me the opportunity to visit with some wonderful people.  Today I want to share just a few of those events.

The Callielac
Most of you are familiar with my friend Linda (yes, she's the one who was murdered in 2009).  Memorable book signings in 2007 and 2008 featured Linda with the Fran Rizer Fan Club who carried signs that said, "We Love Callie."  They would show up wearing black sequined funeral veils outside the B&N or BaM before I arrived in the "Callielac," which is actually a souped up Corvette driven by my friend Chuck.  I wrote Chuck and that Corvette into the fourth book.

My first book was written after I retired from teaching.  At a signing at The Happy Bookseller (an indie that has closed and is dearly missed) a group of my former colleagues attended as a group.  That was a special treat for me.

So booksignings were always fun experiences, but as the cliche goes, you ain't seen nothing yet! The McCormick, SC, Friends of the Library invited me to speak and sign books with a reception following the talk.  Imagine my surprise when I stepped into the auditorium and saw a closed casket, complete with casket spray, in front of the podium!  My protagonist, Callie Parrish, works  as a cosmetician for Middleton's Mortuary.   Friends of the Library were stationed around the room role-playing characters from the Callie Parrish mysteries.

The lady who portrayed Jane was sitting at a desk with a telephone.  Of course she wore a red wig and dark glasses.  A Victoria's Secret bag by her side spilled out all kinds of lingerie, especially Dixon's favorite color--sheer. Jane is Callie's BFF.  She's visually impaired, or as Callie says, "to call a spade a flippin' shovel, she's totally blind."  Leigh, you'll be glad to know that Jane gives up her wicked ways in the fifth book due out in spring, 2013.  No, she hasn't quit her job as a telephone "fantasy actress," but she does stop shoplifting at Victoria's Secret and promise the sheriff she's quit for good.

Another great thing about book signings is
meeting fantastic young authors like
Heidi W. Durrow, winner of many prizes
including Amazon Best Book of the Month
in February,2010, for her first novel,
The Girl Who Fell From the Sky.
No, Liz, there are no recipes in the Callie books, but recipes for foods mentioned in each book are shown on the website.  The Friends of the Library had adapted those recipes to finger foods which were served at the reception including little one-inch squares of sweet potato pone and Jane's "Killer Meatballs."  Character Tyrone Profit's favorite low country Fresh Tomato Pie consists of fresh red tomatoes (Not all southerners like their tomatoes green and fried.) with a little salt, pepper, and tarragon. The tomatos are layered in a pie shell, topped with a parmesan cheese mixture, and baked to scrumptious deliciousness.  A great dish, but not exactly finger foods-----unless, like those ladies in McCormick, the pie was made in petite tart shells.  I've been serving those individual bite-sized tomato pies at parties ever since then.

My number one fan who is
always at my signings is
my grandson, Aeden.
The photo at the top was taken at a Book Launch in 2011, which was held at Jamestown Coffee Company. The late Leonard Jolley and I launched his coming of age novel Soul of Clay (available at Amazon.com) and my fourth Callie Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, THERE'S A BODY IN THE CAR together on a Sunday afternoon with Ray Wade doing readings from both books, lots of splendid coffees, plenty of food, and over one hundred, fifty people.  Among the guests were my friends Shannon as Callie. Barbie as Jane, and Chuck as, you guessed it, Chuck.  It was a wonderful event, and there's no way to top that for the fifth book due out in 2013.

When I used to book rock 'n roll bands, we joked about someday being so famous that fans asked them to sign various body parts.  I've been told, "Write your name right here," by folks who handed me a cocktail napkin, but not on any body parts (yet!)

What about you?  Got any stories to share about book signings or launch parties?  Or any ideas for my next one?

Until we meet again...take care of you!