Until today, I’ve done three book signings in my writing life. The first one was right after my first book was published, and I got booked into what looked like a big drug store (I was about 21 years old, and had just had published the book I wrote at 19). It was in Gilroy, California, at the time of the Garlic Festival (the smell of garlic was overwhelming as I signed), and the mayor at the time tried to kiss me. It was an interesting introduction into the world of book signings. And I was never very inclined to do book signings, and did no publicity at all for my books in those days. I spent my time writing, and taking care of my children. I never went on tour or on the road for my books. I didn’t really have time, and preferred to be at home writing, and with the kids. And I didn’t do interviews either then.(And still rarely do them now.)
My second book signing was in Chicago a while later. I can’t even remember how I got roped into it. There were two other authors scheduled to be signing books, at a book store, and somehow the people who arranged it, failed to mention that both of the other authors were very unusual and admirable people. One was a Viet Nam vet who had lost all four limbs, and had written a book about his experiences. The other was a fairly well known author whose courage I had admired, who had been severely abused and sequestered as a child, had survived it, and gone on to be a writer, and she too had suffered damage to her limbs. Not to sound disrespectful, but it was somewhat startling at the time, because both of these remarkable people signed their books with a pen they held in their teeth. And I sat between them, feeling odd and guilty because I could sign my books with a pen held in my hand. They were both interesting to talk to, but it was a very unusual experience.
And my third book signing happened during a blizzard in New York, several years later. Not a soul showed up in the terrible weather, no one bought a single one of my books, and only a homeless lady came into the store, to get out of the weather, and ate all of the hors d’oeuvres that had been provided. We chatted for a little while, she finished the food and left. And shortly after, I left too.
Somehow all three experiences convinced me not to try book signings again, and the subject hasn’t come up in thirty years. Until recently. A friend in San Francisco owns a beautiful shop for elegant things for the home, china, place mats, crystal, unusual and lovely objects, cashmere blankets,and she sells some books as well . She asked if I would do a book signing of my current non-fiction book about dogs, “Pure Joy”, and because I like her and the shop is terrific, I agreed. It sounded like fun to me when she suggested it, and I’ve been looking forward to it. And I wasn’t disappointed. She set it up beautifully with a desk where I could sit and sign, in the midst of the wonderful things she sells. Valet parkers made life easy for everyone, she had sent out a really beautiful invitation, and lots of nice people came—and I knew many of them. And we sold a lot of books. It was totally fun and beautifully done. I enjoyed it, and I think everyone else did too. An even nicer touch was that she gave a percentage of the book sales to a charity to assist homeless children. it was a win-win in every way, for the children who benefited from it, for us selling books, and for the people who came and enjoyed the event too. It was great!!
I can’t promise to do another one. But the fourth book signing of my life was a winner in every way!!!