Tag Archives: book signings

Book Lovers: The L.A. Times Festival of Books is Here!

One of the most enjoyable parts of being an author is participating in book signings — and few are better than the L.A. Times Festival of Books.

Desiree Duffy of Black Chateau Enterprises and yours truly at the 2017 LA Times Festival of Books.

For the third straight year, I will be signing books at the USC Campus on Sunday, April 22, from 3-5 p.m. It also happens to be my sister Karin’s 50th birthday, so getting from USC crosstown to Encino for the birthday dinner afterward will be interesting, but the afternoon is all about books, and my sister understands… I think…

I digress. On Sunday, I will be signing Voices, Backroad Melodies, Writes of Life, When We Were The Boys and Just Add Water at the Black Chateau Booth #912 in the Black Zone. I will be part of a two-day author collective put together by my publicist and fellow author in the 3-5 slot, Desiree Duffy, the owner of Black Chateau Enterprises.

            The L.A. Times Festival of Books is huge, and awesome. Up to 150,000 people come for the two days to see a collection of bestselling authors, new authors, and entertainment ranging from panel discussions to live bands and very lively public question-and-answer sessions. The festival is the third largest of its kind in the U.S. It’s a book buyer’s and reader’s dream – and, for authors, a rare chance to talk with so many readers.

“I find that consumers like choices, so having several authors and books for them to chose from at a book fair, means that you are more likely to have something they’ll like,” Desiree says. “Book fairs can be exhausting. Authors signings can be draining. Doing an hour or two signing is much easier than committing to running a booth for an entire fest. It gives authors time to walk the fest, check out panels, and network.”

Since Desiree walks the delicate creative and time management tightrope between being a publicist and author (she’ll appear under her nom de plume, Vanta M. Black, to sign her novel Oubliette: A Forgotten Little Place on Sunday afternoon), she also understands the dual existence we writers lead. Often, we prefer to tuck ourselves into our offices and write, not connecting so much publicly — but books don’t sell if we don’t go public. Contrary to the beliefs of many, online presence alone does not beget success. The group signing helps even the shiest authors interact with their audiences.

“We are social beings. When we connect in person, that bond is stronger than it could ever be online,” she explains. “Being an author means being a brand. You are connected to your writing and being able to talk to people, share stories, learn about them as readers, and make connections helps strengthen your brand.

“Plus, what you do in the real world needs to translate to the online world. As an author at an event, being able to promote and post online about it gives you valuable content. Whether it is social media, your author newsletter, your blog or website, your book fest experience should be featured online. Online and offline exposure leverage one another, making each stronger.”

I’d like to introduce you to the other authors at the Black Chateau Booth (once again, #912, in the Black Zone), the works they’ll be signing, and their signing times:

Saturday, April 21:

11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Susanne Bellefeuille, author of Path of Lucas: The Journey He Endured

Autumn Doerr, author of Baker’s Dozen: A Lexi Fagan Mystery

1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Christina Cigala, author of XXvXY: The Final World War

Bobby Goldstein, creator of XXvXY: The Final World War; and the TV show Cheaters

3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Mark J. Rose, author of Matt Miller in the Colonies Series

Lon Varnadore, author of Mostly Human: A 4Pollack Novel

Sunday, April 22:

11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Sean Patrick Traver, author of Wraith Ladies Who Lunch

Raye Mitchell, Esq, author of How Women Negotiate from a Position of Strength

1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Michael Priv, author of The Fifth Battalion

Laurie Finkelstein, author of Next Therapist Please

3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Robert Yehling, author of Voices and Just Add Water

Vanta M. Black, author of Oubliette: A Forgotten Little Place

The booth will also feature books from Nanishka Torres, author of Fenrir Chronicles: The Prince; and Magda Ayuk, author of Blue Bird.

Each appearance at the L.A. Times Festival of Books has been a thrill: discussing pro surfer Clay Marzo’s life with autism in Just Add Water in 2016; and launching Voices to the world in 2017. This time, I’ll also be previewing Crawl of Fame, the memoir of Ironman triathlon legend Julie Moss, which officially releases on October 2.

As for Desiree? She well remembers the thrill of her first L.A. Times Festival of Books signing gig. It’s like runners feel about the Boston Marathon; I know I never get tired of that feeling when we arrive on the scene! “I had a booth the year I released Oubliette—A Forgotten Little Place. It was my dream to be there, and seeing it happen, was amazing,” she recalls. “I checked off an item on my bucket list. I think a lot of authors feel that way. There is something special about the L.A. Times Festival of Books. It is iconic. A must-attend.”

On that note, we’ll see you at Booth 912, Black Zone this weekend!







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The Power of Group Book Signings — and Birth of a New Literary Series

In this era of extreme tidal changes in the publishing industry, writers, readers and those who love personal author appearances will be happy to know of a great trend: enterprising authors banding together to form group appearances and signings.

The power of the group read, this occurring at Vista Library, site of the North County Literary Cavalcade: Sunset Poets and Hummingbird Review  launch. (L-R) Sunset Poets creator and poet Dick Eiden; "Dances With Wolves" author Michael Blake; poet and musician John Doe, of the legendary group X; Charles Redner, Jr; Hummingbird Review publisher & author Charles Redner; fictionist Alwyn Pinnow; and yours truly

The power of the group read, this occurring at Vista Library, site of the North County Literary Cavalcade: Sunset Poets and Hummingbird Review launch. (L-R) Sunset Poets creator and poet Dick Eiden; “Dances With Wolves” author Michael Blake; poet and musician John Doe, of the legendary group X; Charles Redner, Jr; Hummingbird Review publisher & author Charles Redner; fictionist Alwyn Pinnow; and yours truly


AK Patch, the author of "Passage at Delphi," will appear Feb. 23 to launch the North County Literary Cavalcade series at Vista Library.

AK Patch, the author of “Passage at Delphi,” will appear Feb. 23 to launch the North County Literary Cavalcade series at Vista Library.

Not necessarily. Speaking from San Diego County and nearby areas, I can report that a few enterprising authors are working hard to create more group signings. Kaitlin Rother recently hosted an event at the new San Diego City Library that drew a standing room-only crowd. Author Lin Robinson, one of the most innovative and funniest writers around,  is stirring up the waters for a group signing series as well. “My thoughts are to get some local writers together and do something major and newsworthy, maybe in the atrium of the new San Diego library, or across the street in the beautiful Jing Si Café,” Robinson said.

It goes from there. A genre-based group, the Crime Fiction Collective, has been staging group signings for awhile. The La Jolla-based indie bookstore Warwick’s presents not only national authors, but individual and group signings with area authors — in which the author gets a table and signs for several hours on a Sunday afternoon. Very cool.

Group signings are awesome. Several authors appear together, read from their works, perhaps hold a short panel discussion, and then meet, greet and sign. While every author wants (and should have) the stage to themselves, I can tell you that booksellers and libraries love group signings. Why? They put more butts in the seats — and more buyers, or patrons. Readers feel like they’re at an event, and when you attend an event, you want to take the energy and memory of it home with you; hence, buying a book (that’s why motivational speakers and leaders always sell books at the back of the room). Plus, authors receive the dual stimulation of sharing stories from the trenches with other writers, and engaging with their readers.

We will be actively promoting all group signings on this blog, and on the Word Journeys Social Media Network. If you’re an author, band together with a couple other authors, visit your bookstore or library, and set yourself up. It will be much easier than you think — and you will connect eye-to-eye with your audience. Readers and writers, stay tuned.

 Speaking of libraries, I’m pleased to announce something I’ve wanted to create for a long time: a monthly literary series. This one even gives a naming nod to the Golden Age of radio and TV! The North County Literary Cavalcade will be hosted by Vista City Library. Reference librarian Kris Jorgensen and I met earlier this week, and laid out the plan for a combination of author signings, group reads, student presentations, panel discussions, topical workshops, open mics and festival events that will involve national and area authors, educators and poets. Best of all, we’re drawing authors from all fiction and non-fiction genres, plus young adult authors, sci-fi writers, and children’s writers. No matter your reading preference, you’re going to be up close and personal with a prominent author at this series.

Vista Library is a great venue: We hosted a pair of Hummingbird Review launches there, drawing large crowds in both cases. The secret? Yep — group reads. We had six to eight readers on each occasion.

Our first event takes place Sunday, February 23, from 3 to 5 p.m. Author AK Patch will present the history and backstory of his new historical adventure thriller, Passage at Delphi. This book brings the famous Greek-Persian War (source of the “300” movie series) into modern-day light, as eyewitnessed by time-traveling professors. They are under the influence of the Greek God Apollo, who worries that today’s civilization will go the way of the Ancient Greeks. If you’re a “300” fan, and pacing the floors waiting for the March 7 premiere of 300: Rise of an Empire, this book will not only feed you, but give you a counter-story filled with excitement and depth.

I’ll also be reading, as Dr. Patch’s warm-up act. Kris Jorgensen and I will co-host the event, and we will also present the schedule of Literary Cavalcade events.

Hope to see you there — and at all group signing events.

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Let’s Keep Book Signings Enjoyable

On Saturday, I walked into one of my greatest pet peeves in the book world: a signing at which the customers were treated like second-rate citizens. This happened at Barnes & Noble in Oceanside, where I entered the fray a willing participant and walked out feeling like I was part of a cattle drive.

The occasion was an appearance and signing by Ace Frehley, the lead guitarist of KISS. After seeing a sign advertising the event a few days prior, I called my friend Robert Munger, the webmaster of RockChoice.com and a much more ardent KISS fan than me, and we decided to meet up at the signing.

I haven’t listened to a KISS song in 30 years, but they were a major part of my teenage years. I saw them twice in concert, and I always felt a sort of affinity for “The Spaceman,” Frehley’s costumed alter ego. As a huge music fan and saluter of high achievers in general, I like commiserating with musicians known to be nice, engaging and creative people. I also like taking an occasional ride down memory lane (or reclaiming lost memories, to be more accurate in this case) by reading memoirs from people who helped make those times.

When my lady, her son and I arrived 40 minutes early, the line already queued 100 feet from the table where Ace would sign. Already, my first hope was dashed: that Ace would give a talk about his memoir, “No Regrets,” and then sign. I bought a book for a friend’s Christmas gift, and stood near the front of the line with Robert until the signing started, at which time I moved to the back and prepared to stand for the next 60 to 90 minutes. No problem. The line was filled with excited fans sharing KISS stories and concert memories. Always a fun line to join.

A half-hour after the signing started, I was twenty feet from the signing table. That was fast: I was probably #240 of the 250 or so people on hand. How could Ace sign so many books so quickly, and banter with his fans?

The answer: store management didn’t really let him banter. When I got close to the table, two B & N employees and three security guards were on hand. “Open your book to the page you want him to sign,” one of the employees said. “No, he won’t personalize for anyone.”

With that, the man took my book and planted it on the table, behind two other books. Clearly uncomfortable with the arrangement, Ace made sure to shake everyone’s hand and chat with them for a second, and take in whatever they had to say — usually, favorite KISS concert moments delivered in the 10 or 15 seconds they had before being moved on. As I said, he was very engaging, just as friendly as I would have expected, and clearly delighted to meet long-time fans. I respected and appreciated him not only because of his music, but because of his continuing desire to create new music and his commitment to sober living — which, if you know anything about his past, is quite an achievement. So when I got up there, I shook his hand and said, “Thanks for the music and keeping your creative force alive.”

“Along with the rest of me,” he quipped.

We had a quick exchange, and then I was moved out of there by the book signing posse.

A moment on that. The B & N crew, hell-bent on efficiently running people by the table as quickly as possible, created a countercurrent to Ace’s obvious desire to interact with his fans and readers. As an author who loves to talk with people who read my books, and as one who’s purchased hundreds of books from B & N stores nationwide (and had books on their shelves for years), I couldn’t sit silently and watch this. I turned to one employee and said, “You know, we’ve already purchased our books, and this man might not have been someone you looked up to, but he was that person to a lot of people here. How ironic that the dude who quit KISS because the band became more about profit than music is subject to the way you’re doing this book signing.”

Naturally, my comments fell on deaf ears. Ten minutes later, just 50 minutes after it began, the signing was over. B & N was happy — in and out in less than an hour. Another item checked off the to-do list. Efficient.

But no way to run a book signing. Part of the reason to get a book signed is to share a moment with the author, connect with the person whose book you’re about to read. I guarantee you, that is what everyone had in mind when they arrived. Thankfully, the author did everything he could to accommodate them, even though he was flanked by a personal assistant on one side (of course) and two security people moving people away from the table (totally unnecessary).

As an author, educator and one who works on behalf of many authors, and has been to much bigger B & N signings (when I saw Tom Robbins in New York in 2004, nearly 1,000 people showed up. The employees couldn’t have been more supportive), I felt perturbed by the scene. What made it more irritating was that the featured author wanted to talk with each of his fans as he signed their books, but they kept moving the line. By my rough count, 250 people stood in line with books they’d just purchased for $26. That’s $6,500 that would not have happened without Ace Frehley’s presence.

One would think the booksellers would be a little more appreciative of that fact. I know one thing: had this signing taken place at an independent bookseller, the result would have been much different.

Let’s start remembering why you’re so massive, Barnes & Noble: Because of we, the readers.



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