Mark Terry

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Diary Of A Book Event

March 21, 2010
As you know, yesterday I went to Aunt Agatha's in Ann Arbor to do my book launch party/signing/event thing. Here's an account of it.

7:45--got up, shaved, showered, etc. Hopped online for a bit, then had breakfast. Took dog out for a walk.

9:00--woke up Sean, told him we'd be leaving around 10:00 and I needed to run errands.

9:05--went to Meijers and bought a bottle of wine to give to the bookstore owners (a new approach--bribe the bookstore people; I think it works :)). Filled up the gas tank. Got home, got a text from my wife saying she thought she'd be home earlier from work than expected. So I gave Sean the option of staying home versus traveling all day with me. Shocking, I know, but he elected to spend 3 hours playing video games by himself than sitting in a car all day with me.

10:00--hit the road toward Ann Arbor.

11:20 or so--found surface parking lot about 2 blocks from the store. Walked down to find the store and popped in and gave Jamie bottle of wine and ask him if he thought they'd need/want some of my backlist. He said he'd check with Robin. Then I asked him how to find the restaurant I was meeting my family at, the Grizzly Peak Brewing Company, which was around the corner and down a couple blocks. We were meeting there around 11:45. I got there around 11:35 and sat in the waiting area flipping through a local magazine and read a review of Thomas Lynch's latest collection of fiction. I've never read anything by him, but he gave a talk at the last Magna cum Murder I attended and he was both moving and hysterical. My brother Pete, and my nieces and nephews--Dylan, Elyse, and Kallen, & Elyse's boyfriend, Drew--showed up about 10 minutes later. My sister Beth, my brother-in-law Matt, and my mom showed up around noon. We commended to ordering food and beverages and chatting.

1:00--I left everyone at the restaurant and swung by Aunt Agatha's. They told me they did want my backlist. Craig McDonald and his wife and kids were there. I chatted briefly with them, then headed back to my car to get my box o' books and my dress jacket, then came back and commenced to mingling. I took a picture of the cake and before we got going, Jamie took a photo of Craig and I cutting the cake that's going to make us look an awful lot like we just got married (or as Craig said, people are going to talk).

My family showed up, and a friend of mine, Gary, and his family, showed up, and there were probably another dozen or so there.

Right around 1:30 or so we started our thing. I talked about myself and the books for 10 minutes or so and fielded some questions, and then Craig did the same thing. I tried something I hadn't before, which I intend to do at all my signings now, which was I bought a $25 gift certificate for the store and had everyone in attendance put their names on a card and had Robin draw the name. As it turns out, my niece Kallen won, so she bought a stack of books. I'm not quite sure how I'll handle that at longer signings at chain stores, but I think I'm going to continue doing it. It creates a lot of goodwill with everyone concerned and I would guess it makes it memorable for at least one attendee.

Cake was eaten. Then we signed books and, God bless my family, they bought a bunch of them. So did everyone else.

I've decided to totally change my attitude about these events (or try to). If you view them as a per-hour type of thing and count how many books you actually sell, you're only going to get frustrated. View it as a way to get your name out to the public, as a way to get to know booksellers, as a way for booksellers--particularly chain stores--to put your book on the front or local tables without your publisher shelling out thousands of dollars in coop, as a way to support bookstores and booksellers, and as a way to connect with people who like to read books, then you'll come away a far happier human being than if you sell 6 books for a profit of $12 and you spent 8 hours on the event. Also, sign stock and maybe your books won't end up pulped or on eBay (good luck with that last).

I chatted with Robin and Jamie for a few minutes, went back to my car, struggled with the automated parking attendant (technology's great, but too bad it doesn't work better; the damned thing absolutely refused to recognize either of my credit cards and didn't want to take my cash, although eventually it did), then, in true Mark Terry fashion, took a right instead of a left somewhere along the line, realized I was heading the wrong way, headed back downtown, got turned around, headed out of town, stopped to ask someone for directions, headed back in the opposite direction, in what turned out to be a totally round-about way of getting where I wanted to go, then was cut off on the expressway and missed my exit, so had to go down a couple miles and turn around... but eventually got home.

All in all, a fantastic experience. And if you're interested in buying an autographed copy of The Fallen, Aunt Agatha's has them available and you can buy them via their website.

Isn't that cake awesome? I didn't want to cut into it, it was too great.

p.s. I've added a photo of Craig and I cutting the cake. It's either a book signing or the inauguration of legal gay weddings in Michigan. I wonder if Craig and I are going to regret this picture somewhere along the line (or open up a whole new audience).


Blogger Natasha Fondren said...

The cake looks fabulous, Mark! Congratulations!

And that's a fantastic idea with the gift card. Very sweet!

11:09 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Isn't that cake great? I told Robin I didn't want to cut it. She made me. I cut it down the middle and said, "What, I'm supposed to start cutting through Craig's book cover and not mine? You cut the rest!"

11:12 AM  
Anonymous MG said...

Way to go, Mark! I'm proud of you.
And yes - that cake is beyond awesome.

1:22 PM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

It went well. & Robin said you're a delight to work with.

1:28 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

Glad it went so well. How do they make a cake like that?

I think for most writers there is more enjoyment to the writing and publishing too if one doesn't dwell on the financial aspect. Most people, I expect, would be pleased and flattered just to have a bookstore throw a party for them :)

2:11 PM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Yes, Eric, I think you're right. And if you ever come to Ann Arbor, I bet Robin would throw one for you. I bet she's read your books.

As for the cake. I don't know, but it's cool.

3:41 PM  
Blogger Erica Orloff said...

CONGRATS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Love the cake!!!!!



4:16 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Thanks, Erica!

5:25 AM  
Blogger Richmond Writer said...

So you had your cake and got to eat it too?


I've been to events where they have a drawing for a book. Place it in a gift bag with coffee and chocolate and you have a back-up in case gift cards aren't available.

11:51 AM  

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