My initial experience as a published author at an official book signing turned out to be a a delight in so many ways. I will be forever grateful for the “baptism” by the good folks at Barnes & Noble located at Market Common in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
I had no blueprint to follow, no other authors to observe, so I had to feel my own way until it felt comfortable. I was told by employees that i was exceptional for my ability to engage customers. I’m not a passive person and maybe I’m a salesperson at heart.
I learned the job is really a cross between Wal-Mart greeter and a politician. I was there to sell my book, Grief Diaries: Loss by Homicide, as well as the entire Grief Diaries series. Add that to selling myself as an author, and pushing my favorite non-profit, CUE Center for Missing Persons.
It was a tall order on the face of it. However, I soon got into the groove. My designated time slot of 1-3pm came and went all too quickly. I made the decision to stay and keep going until I was asked to leave. Happily, I can report that business picked up the longer I stayed, for a grand total of 7.5 hours. Managers went about their business and allowed me to do my thing.
It was a true tapestry of engagements, as well as non-engagements, including tourists, locals, students, teachers, researchers, and those seeking a cold drink. The non-engagers rarely make eye contact, sprint by my area, and make a beeline to Starbucks inside the store.
There were also those who cringed and contorted their faces at the mention on homicide. Those people on vacation, and residents with their heads in the sand, think vacations, life experience and homicide never co-exist.
One man, originally from London, sauntered over and looked closely at my poster and book, then left the table. He returned to say, “I didn’t mean to be rude, but I lost my wife and two children. I read the book in the Grief Diaries series, Loss of a Child, and I just can’t deal with it anymore.”
I directed at least three women to the information desk to order Grief Diaries: Loss of a Spouse as this is a common loss with which everyone can identify. A psychologist from Coastal Carolina University returned to the table several times. We talked extensively, and I now have an opportunity to collaborate with him to present to his class on death and dying.
I was also invited to the Myrtle Beach Coastal Power Women’s Group. This group is business oriented and offers attendees the opportunity to do a short presentation after attending for a set amount of times.
With every conversation I tried to weave in the activities and mission of CUE Center for Missing Persons and the fact that a portion of book sales is designated as a donation to the organization which searches for missing persons across the country, as well as provide advocacy for the families.
I mentioned the vial importance of having a greater awareness of young men and women who go missing often. In this context, I used examples of local missing persons Brittanee Drexel and Heather Elvis with love and care. There was a spark of recognition and an awareness of the CUE Center for their part in these local, high-profile cases.
One of the non-engaged appeared to be a woman of means with two small children in tow. When I tried to engage her, she said, without looking, “I’m not interested.” I replied, “That’s fine, but grief and homicide are a part of life for many people.” She rushed her kids out of the door and loudly said, “If you check recent FBI statistics, crime is down!” She obviously needs a reality check.
A favorite person who purchased my book cam back for more in the way of a photo-op. Alisha Wilson, a proud member of the Roanoke, Virginia Police Department made my day.
Other favorites included high school students from the local Socastee High School. They were great listeners and purchased a copy of my book for their school. Anna from British Columbia, who has a counseling degree promised to order a copy as well. Finally, a mom purchased a copy for her daughter, a scientist with the West Virginia State Crime Lab.
The manager on duty invited me back the next day to autograph copies for the store. Apparently, a special “Autographed” sticker is placed on the cover of the book to inspire customers to buy more books. Wearing my CUE t-shirt I spent another hour at the store preparing these books.
It’s my hope that Barnes & Noble will feature the entire Grief Diaries series in their store. I’m looking forward to further opportunities around the local area of Myrtle Beach, as well as in my home state of Connecticut.
To paraphrase this book signing experience from a chapter in the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn:
“I shan’t ever forget you, and I’ll think of you many, many times.”
To schedule Donna R. Gore for your next conference, seminar or event, please contact ImaginePublicity. Phone: 843-808-0859 or Email: email@example.com