What Exactly Am I Doing?

So this year I did a few different types of book signing events instead of going to libraries and Christmas parties like I'd done in the past. Just to try something different.

I attended a Tradeshow and sat in the doorway at a few very large and incredible groceries stores and I went to the kickass bookstore of Chapters in Regina.

Each one was a fun event, but they were costly, as I don't live in these cities and had to travel, sometimes stay the night, eat, shop, and whatnot. I enjoyed meeting the helpful and very patient and supportive staff at each location. I do have to admit that these events are stressful beforehand. Mostly because I'm never sure what to expect, being green and all. I found having my hair cut before helped so it was easy to do, and thankfully I tried my pants on the week before and discovered that I must have tossed them in the dryer by mistake because they were way too short! (unless I grew?)

Someone told me to get my nails done, since this is what people are looking at while you sign, but this isn't something I usually do and well... it felt awkward and unnatural and was more stressful so I didn't do that again. No one looked at my hands. While I signed, they picked up another book and read the jacket of that one, too. Or they collected bookmarks. Or they told me a joke.

Of course, I did my research and read about the tips other authors had and kept the attitude that each event was more about visibility and promoting myself, not about selling books (but that is a plus if it happens). Which was great but then when someone would ask what this book or that book was about, I would draw a blank. I read Ghosts on the Prairies 70 times. I know every word by heart. So why couldn't I stumble out the basic plot in the moment? Urgh. So to solve my sudden stupidity, I had rack cards made with the Whispering Stories on one side and the Sacred Land Stories on the other, and a quick little blurb about them that sums up what each one is about. This helped target readers to the books they wanted, but I found the covers also drew them in. Teens went straight for Can't Dream Without You and men for Ghosts on the Prairies. Which, of course, makes sense since those are my target audiences, but it was still fun to see how well the covers and titles worked to lure people to pick them up.

I got told I was living the dream by a guy, who apparently was considering quitting his job to do what I was doing. I wished him luck. My thoughts were somewhat more on "What exactly AM I doing?" 

I was told by someone who I talked to about each book in great detail that she was going to go to the library to borrow them tomorrow since she was too cheap to buy them (her words, not mine). I smiled and thanked her because maybe she'll like them and recommend them to someone else. It felt like time well spent.

I watched a wife drag her husband from my table. Twice. I decided if he sneaked over a third time I was giving him a copy of Ghosts on the Prairies, since he was drooling for it.

I watched a teen drag his mother to the table. She let him buy Can't Dream Without You and damn, did he ever look like he was about to read the most forbidden book ever written.

I was asked for directions, for a cart, for peanuts that were on sale, and I had to fix a rug that got caught in the door. A gentleman thought I was with the Salvation Army taking donation for Christmas. I ate waayyyy too much fudge at the Tradeshow and was buzzed up for hours. Not even sure how we got home.

I bought chocolates for the staff at Chapters because they had suffered an event that day and were still awesome. For those of you who don't know Chapters--wow. All I can say. The place is where I want to work, sleep, eat, and visit if I ever move to the city.

Here are a few pictures of me at some of the places. I didn't get one at Estevan where I was at the big and incredible Southern Plains Co-op Food Store. It was after a snow storm, which gave me a lot to talk about with the customers and staff. Plus, I met this incredible man who told me the greatest stories and totally made the day!

Me at my first Tradeshow. Saw a lot of familiar faces that day! I also brought the  historical magazine I worked on for the Community Center as this was a great place to promote the research into the local history that I love and do.
Me at Chapters.
The morning got off to a bad start as the place was closed due to an event. So I didn't get in and set up until 2pm, which was when I was supposed to be leaving. The incredible staff let me stay as long as I wanted and I saw and met so many people, and best of all, I was standing in front of a Harry Potter display and my bestie came to share the day!  

NOW! THE BEST PART is that they put my books on the shelf. That's right, my friends, my books are at this awesome store, on the shelf and selling. I have no words to describe how weird it felt to see them on the self.

Me at Save on Food in Regina. It was New Year's Eve and busy, but many people took a moment to chat.

So what tips do you have for hosting such an event where you have to stand for hours on unfamiliar ground, meet people, chat with strangers, and talk about yourself and your work?