Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Butterfly Effect—Book Event Style

Well I had a great time in Texas, and fortunately I experienced no technical difficulties of the nature Mary described. (Hallelujah!)

While doing my Speedy Quick Texas Book Tour, I was reminded of a lesson I keep learning again and again, and that is that we can’t even begin to understand which connections have value and will bear fruit, so we have to treat each opportunity as if it is golden.

In fact, there is a saying that goes something like: When the student is ready, the teacher will come. Which I have bastardized in my own mind so that it goes more like this: Whatever reader will most benefit from meeting me at a booksigning, will be there.

With that phrase clutched tightly to my bosom, I can face any and all booksignings with a certain comfort level. Even if only one person shows up, I allow myself to believe that they were the one person it was most important for me to meet that day, even if I never know or understand exactly why.

During my recent trip to Texas, the truth of these words was brought home to me. At one book signing, held at 11:00 on a Saturday when most kids were still at their soccer games, there were only a handful of people. There was, however, one girl who came (dressed up as Theodosia, no less!) and we were able to talk one on one for a good 20 minutes. When she had left, her mother and I had a chance to talk and I learned about some of the hard issues this kid had been dealing with, and I was immeasurably grateful that I had had a chance to meet and talk with her. It made the entire event completely worthwhile.

The thing is, every writer I know has a story like this. Every single one. Usually however, we don’t ever understand how they fit into the greater scheme of things—what karmic marketing opportunity they might present. This time however, when discussing the booksigning with my publicist, she zeroed right in on the fact that this girl was homeschooled (as is the character in my book) and realized that was a marketing approach we should tap into. Voila!

At another signing, most of the people in attendance were already fans, so I didn’t sell many new books. However, I was able to spend a lot of time with the bookstore employees, who were all wildly enthusiastic about the books and suggested I come back when Book III is released so that they could take me into the local schools for school visits. As any writer would agree, that invitation is golden! And most likely not something that would have happened if I hadn’t had a chance to meet them face to face.

So that’s the thing about book signings. You simply can’t take them at face value. You never know which person you meet will be the butterfly wing that flutters open a marvelous new door for you.


Yat-Yee said...

Congratulations on all the excellent experiences during your tour. If I were that little girl, I know I'd cherish the chat forever. A chance to make connections, a chance to make a difference in someone's life: now THAT is truly golden.

Thanks for an encouraging post.

Mary Hershey said...

Thanks for sharing this, Robin! It is a powerful philosophy for not only book signings, but for life.

So glad that it was such a great trip for you. And way cool that you and your publicist tapped into a potential new market.

Glad to have you back!

Anonymous said...

I love this, Robin. It's so true. If you put something good out there, you never know what will come of it. The funny thing is, when you put something bad out there--ONLY bad will result.

So glad you were there for that girl to talk to!

Sarah Laurenson said...

Awesome post. I've had people come up to me and say something small I did many years ago had a great effect on them. Thanks for the thought to take that into book signings!

Sherrie Petersen said...

How cool that she dressed like Theodosia! That's a hard core fan :^)