The Non-Celebrity Book Signing Event

I read recently that writing a great book is only 20% of a writer’s job, with another 80% being put into the “business” side. Yesterday was my part of that 80%–not writing, but doing a Sacred Pauses book signing at the Regent Bookstore on the campus of my alma mater, Regent College.

This is a wonderful bookstore–one of the few theological bookstores left in Canada I’m told–and the timing was perfect with the Regent Pastors’ Conference underway this week. What’s more, it was a double blessing, since it was a chance to share the event with my husband whose book was published in November (Perspective Criticism: Point of View and Evaluative Guidance in Biblical Narrative by Gary Yamasaki).

April and Gary Yamasaki joint book signing at Regent Bookstore

April and Gary Yamasaki joint book signing at Regent Bookstore

Bookstore manager Bill Reimer told us ahead of time that they don’t usually sell a lot of books at signings, but he added, “it is a good time for conversations and to get the word out there.”

That was certainly true in our case–our book signing was really more of a “meet and greet” which was wonderful. I was very glad to talk with my former church history professor; one of the Regent librarians; a fellow pastor from the Fraser Valley; a former pastor from Abbotsford now living in Sacramento, California; another pastor and writer from Waterloo, Ontario, who is doing a book signing today at the store; others attending the Pastors’ Conference; plus friends that we had invited and graciously came to support us. I had a great time, and I’m only sorry for the bookstore’s sake that we couldn’t sell more books for them.

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Last week, I wondered aloud whether book blog tours are too much effort for too little return, and the same questions could be asked about book signing events too. Are they a good investment of time for writers? Or should that time rather be spent writing?

In my own hometown where I know people, it was great to have a Monday night book launch and signing plus a second signing on Saturday mid-day, both at the House of James, both quite well attended with great conversations and a good number of books sold. And I’m really glad we did the Regent Bookstore signing yesterday for the experience, for the conversations, for getting the word out in one more way, even though the immediate sales were limited. Thanks to Bill and the rest of the bookstore and cafe staff for your help!

But as far as my time goes, I think that’s it for bookstore signing events this time round. Today I’m writing another guest blog post that’s scheduled to go live on Friday and also working on a short script for a Sacred Pauses video book trailer that will double as a discussion starter for a possible curriculum series in future.

How are you spending your Writer Wednesday–on the writing 20%, the business 80%, or something else?



Categories: Sacred Pauses, Writing

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13 replies

  1. I really appreciate your reflections. in this and the last post. In the 10 months since my book,”Please Pass the Faith: the Art of Spiritual Grandparenting,” came out I’ve also had speaking engagements where it sold in large numbers, almost without effort, and other times, where the turnout was low, and very few books were sold. I have also wondered about how hard and long I work at introducing people to it, and am now shifting to relying on speaking invitations that come without my prompting. What is most gratifying to me is the way the process has given permission to other younger seniors to talk about the concerns they have about their adult children who are leaving the church and the way it is empowering young grandparents to be intentional about becoming spiritual companions for the young.

    • Thanks, Elsie – I’m glad to hear about your experience and can understand the shift you describe. It seems that there are different stages/seasons for different kinds of events/investment of energies. I’m so glad for the way your book and speaking etc. is impacting people.

  2. Hi April, not sure where the 20-80 figures come from, my writing takes a much higher percentage of my time and energy than that! — It’s good to hear of your experiences, and others who comment here. Publishing is a tough slog nowadays and it’s easy — for me, at least, who is happiest at her desk — to get a little discouraged about the expectations put onto authors to ensure the success of their books. And one does feel that responsibility quite heavily to the publisher who took a risk, to the bookstores trying to survive. I took an excellent day-long seminar on self-promotion put on by The Writers Union of Canada some time ago and got a lot of good ideas, but also appreciated the advice to pick the items that work “for me” and leave the rest. I think it’s important to say “yes” and show up when opportunities come but also to be able to say “no” when necessary. So it’s a kind of ongoing exploration, knowing which it is and when. But no doubt about it, one is so so so grateful for everyone who reads one’s work and extra-grateful when they buy it! Thanks for sharing your ongoing learning.
    (P.S. I hope you’ve registered for the Public Lending Right Program and Access Copyright program, small bits of additional income available to writers. Info on the web.)

    • Hi Dora, I read about “the myth of the 20 percent” at http://www.therobertd.com/the-myth-of-the-20-percent/. I don’t track my time in that way, and what some might call “business” I might count as “real” writing (e.g., writing a guest post for another blog) so the lines are somewhat blurred in my mind anyway. But the idea that there’s writing and then there are other supportive activities is a good one for me to think about, as well as your point about being able to say yes and no. Thanks for the tips about the lending and copyright programs too!

  3. I’ll tell you more tomorrow. We’re planning a signing/reception at Park View Mennonite Church here in Harrisonburg for this time tomorrow (3:30-6 p.m.) for five authors in Fifty Shades of Grace (and I know you were invited to submit a story to that). Thanks for your post!

    • Hi Melodie – yes, you’re right–too bad the timing for that project didn’t work for me, but I’d be very interested in how the signing/reception goes tomorrow, so please do let me know. I would be there if it weren’t an overly long commute!

  4. I missed an opportunity to finally meet you! I wasn’t at Regent, but I could have easily made a trip had I known! I have so many questions for you 😉

    • It would have been great to meet you! Too bad I’m not in Vancouver more often–are you ever out in the Fraser Valley?

      • Unfortunately, not very often! It would have to be a special trip. I’ll let you know if I ever need a drive out in the country 🙂

  5. ok, and I’ll let you know the next time I’m at Regent–also unfortunately, not very often!