Observing a Book Signing and Panel Discussion

On Saturday afternoon, I attended a book signing/release event at Barnes & Noble for the novel, Stella Rose, by Vermont author Tammy Flanders Hetrick. I’m hoping to get a chance to do a similar event at B & N and wanted to know what to expect. Hetrick only spoke for ten minutes or so, which I thought was surprisingly short. I arrived a few minutes late, unfortunately, and didn’t get to hear the bulk of her speech. She then opened up the floor to questions. The question/answer session lasted much longer, running 20 to 25 minutes. Afterward, the audience formed a queue, and she signed copies of her book and chatted with everyone.

She had a good crowd of 30-40 people. The majority appeared to be family, friends, and coworkers who had brought friends with them. They provided a great support group, very upbeat with a lot of engagement and laughter, and I think their positive energy and the size of the crowd drew in other shoppers to see what was going on.

Hetrick wore a nice, colorful dress and looked professional. She had swag laid out for people to see — T-shirts, mugs, and bookmarks, along with her business cards. Some of the T-shirts and mugs were given away as door prizes to those who had come from the farthest distance and those who had brought the most friends with them.

The entire event lasted an hour or so, with friendly conversations lingering afterward. I wasn’t in the market to buy one of her books right then, so I didn’t go up and speak with her, but just observed from the fringes. What’s that called in social media — lurking? 🙂

In contrast, on Monday evening, I went to my local library for a panel discussion by three Vermont authors, J.P. Choquette, Bill Schubart, and Steve Delaney, on their books and self-publishing. The event was scheduled to run an hour and a half, and for the first third of the program, I was the only one in the audience. As disappointing as it likely was for the authors, it worked out well for me, because I got to ask tons of questions and gather some incredibly useful information and resources. Another lady came in part way through, and the two of us kept the discussion going until it was time to leave.

The panelists dressed in nice casualwear and brought copies of their books and business cards. They didn’t have any other swag, and I wondered if it was only considered appropriate to bring those types of items with new releases? Or can you bring the T-shirts, bookmarks, etc., to any event?

I’m really glad I had a chance to go to these events and see what I might be getting myself into in the future. And even though the second event was much more low key and less likely to be considered a success, I learned a valuable lesson from it. It’s okay if not many people show up. Sharing your knowledge and experiences from your writing journey with just one interested person can be as satisfying as sharing it with many. The sister- and brotherhood of writers is amazingly generous when it comes to helping their fellow writers along. Of course, that part I already knew.





© Lori L. MacLaughlin and Writing, Reading, and the Pursuit of Dreams, 2015. All rights reserved.