Showing posts with label book signings. Show all posts
Showing posts with label book signings. Show all posts

A Book Signing with Author Ransom Riggs

"Stay Peculiar"
When Ransom Riggs came to town, I knew I would have to go see him. And I wasn’t disappointed. Riggs is the author of Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children #1 New York Times bestselling series; the fifth book in the series, The Conference of the Birds, just came out on January 14th.

Our Albuquerque Barnes & Noble hosted Riggs in grand style. While the “events” that were set up for ticket holders were presented mostly by Riggs’s traveling crew (our stop was the 9th on his whirlwind book tour in a van decorated with lively Conference of the Birds artwork), B & N employees helped, too. I’m not sure who provided the chocolates, cookies and sweet drinks, but it didn’t matter. In the hour before Riggs danced in, the guests, numbering approximately forty by my count, had a great time. One woman sitting in the front row, a gold ticket holder, even came dressed as a character from Riggs’s stories.

There was so much to do: tattoos stamped at the tattoo booth, photos taken by the participants themselves in front of a giant poster backdrop, and a mysterious event known only to gold ticket holders (my ticket was silver, which included a hardcover copy of The Conference of Birds). Three notebooks, signed by Ransom Riggs, were given away.

Riggs grew up in Florida. When he was twelve, he found old photographs with his grandmother at a collector’s store in town. His fascination grew and he soon became a collector himself, scouring old photos at swap meets and flea markets. He especially liked the photos that had writing on the back, such as an old photo of a young girl named Dorothy who, on the back, said that she had died of leukemia at his age. He’d never before thought that anyone his age would die. Photos then were ten cents a piece; later, as he grew more serious, he paid more.

He would find creepy stuff, such as a collection of men with blank eyes (these poor souls either had cataracts, were blind, or came from another world, not sure), which appears in The Conference of the Birds, war time photos, and Gothic photos, to name a few. He kept his photos into albums. No permission was necessary for these unclaimed photos (I had to ask). And then he came to a photo of a peculiar child. Hmm.

When he was thirteen, he joined a writer’s group called Inklings. He wrote Stephen King-like stories alongside old ladies writing their memoirs.

After a stint at film school, trying his hand at screenwriting, and other jobs, he was encouraged by the editor of a small publishing company to write a novel, and his novel of an island full of kids with strange abilities was born. He thought the novel wouldn’t get any attention, but it slowly gathered momentum, and was made into the movie, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. The ending of the novel was a cliff-hanger, and two more novels followed, a trilogy. The end. He thought. But now he is in the middle of another trilogy, writing the latest novel, half-way done and slated to come out in 2021, while on the road in his van, traveling on his book tour across America.

Riggs’s wife, Tahereh Mafi, is also a bestselling author, with six books in her New York Times and USA Today bestselling YA Shatter Me series, and her novels A Very Large Expanse of Sea, longlisted by the National Book Award for YA, and Furthermore, Gr 5-7. They share an office, write side-by-side, and he shared with his characteristic terrific sense of humor that she very kindly and gently reads his early drafts.

Riggs’s Wisdom
After Riggs blew in front of the crowd, seated by tickets, I was struck with his attitude. He thanked B & N for having him, expressed his gratitude that his readers have stuck with him through his six-odd year writing journey. He said knowing that his readers were waiting for this book was a big shot in the arm for him.

He began his talk by answering questions that are usually asked, which I thought was a big time-saver. This way he covered a lot of more territory than might have been missed by having to save time for a lengthy Q & A session, though he did allot some time for Q & A at the end.
  • He said writing is a great escape; channeling whatever feeling—sadness, joy, etc., into good fiction is a good way to get our feelings out.
  • In the beginning, he used his photos to inspire his characters, but now the story has its own momentum, and he goes with that.
  • He listens to music, not while writing necessarily, but music helps him to think up ideas.
  • Writer's Block strategies: Writer's block is a sign that the author is trying to force the character to do something that doesn’t come naturally, or the author is too attached to the plot. Any author suffering from writer's block needs to back up and think about what they’re trying to write.
  • The most important thing Riggs has learned? Writing faster doesn’t make it worse! Just write the book instead of all that other stuff!
I left elated and motivated to get back to work. Riggs put on an interesting, refreshing and highly invigorating talk. If he comes to your town, I recommend that you go see him. Before I attended Riggs's book signing, I was not familiar with his work. Now I can't wait to dig into his books, and his wife's, too.
Introductory photo: From Ransom Riggs's Facebook Pages

Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate, has published over 150 articles for adults and children, and several short stories for children. She has recently become editor of the New Mexico SCBWI chapter newsletter, and is working on several projects for children. Follow Linda on Facebook.

Keep Experimenting to Sell Books

By W. Terry Whalin

I've never met a book author who didn't want to sell more copies of their work. It doesn't matter if they are published through one of the largest publishers or Podunk Press (I don't believe there is such a small publisher named Podunk Press but maybe since there are many of them).

I've interviewed more than 150 bestselling authors and spoken with hundreds of other authors. If you bring up the topic of selling more books, almost every author has a story about something they tried yet failed to work. Often these stories are filled with the author blaming someone else for the lack of sales. They blame:

their publisher
their publicist
their agent
their editor
the wrong title
the wrong cover
the missing endorsements
_____ you name it

It's rare that I hear the author blame the real culprit: themselves. Yes, it's hard to admit but it is the first step toward selling more books and understanding who bears the true responsibility for selling books—the author.

In Jack Canfield's bestselling title, The Success Principles, How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be, he begins the book with some fundamentals for success. The first principle is: Take 100% Responsibility for Your Life.

For book authors, you can easily take the word Life and substitute Book: Take 100% Responsibility for Your Book. It's amazing how your attitude will shift if you take this simple step.

Many authors long to have their book appear on the bestseller list. For some authors they equate getting on the bestseller list as their benchmark of success for their book. Years ago, I read Michael Korda's Making the List, a Cultural History of the American Bestseller 1900–1999. Korda at the time was the Editor-in-Chief at Simon and Schuster, one of the largest publishers. If you haven't read this book, I highly recommend it.

In the introduction, Korda writes, “The bestseller list is therefore neither as predictable nor as dominating as its critics make it out to be. Plenty of strange books get onto the list and stay there for a long time…at least half of the books on any given list are there to the immense surprise and puzzlement of their publishers. That's why publishers find it so hard to repeat their success—half the time they can't figure out how they happened in the first place.” (Page xv) I love his honesty. There is no magic bullet and it is different for every book. The author is key.

Some books start slow and steadily sell then catapult in sales. Other books begin strong then sales drop to nothing. There is no consistent pattern.

My encouragement is for you to keep experimenting with different methods to sell your book. Each author has a different experience.
Recently I spoke with an author who had sold 8,000 to 10,000 copies of his self-published books. He had held over 300 book signings for his book. For many authors book signings have yielded almost nothing but not for this author. He regularly speaks at schools and service clubs and even AARP meetings.

If you aren't speaking much as an author, I encourage you to get a copy of Barbara Techel's Class Act, Sell More Books Through School and Library Appearances. This book gives step-by-step help and is loaded with ideas where you can take action.

What proactive steps can you take to learn a new skill or try some new way to sell books? It doesn't matter if your book is brand new or has been in print for a while. Keep the experimentation going until you hit the elements which work for your book.

What new actions are you taking to sell more books? Let me know in the comments below. 


As an author, you must be experimenting to sell more books. Get resources from a prolific author. (Click to Tweet)

W. Terry Whalin is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. His work contact information is on the bottom of the second page (follow this link).  One of his books for writers is Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams, Insider Secrets to Skyrocket Your Success. One of Terry's most popular free ebooks is Straight Talk From the Editor, 18 Keys to a Rejection-Proof Submission. He lives in Colorado and has over 200,000 twitter followers.

Preparing for Your Book Signing

You have written your book, had it accepted, and you have it in your hands. Now the publisher and the marketing team is ready for your participation in public displays and book signings. You may even have been asked to read your book or a passage or two in front of an audience. Does the thought of speaking in public or actually promoting yourself make your blood run cold? Here are a few tips to help prepare for your first book signing event.

I have had three books published and the first two signings were at church related events because the books fit that audience. However, I have a Picture book out this month and the first signing is coming up. How to prepare isn't something the publisher has explained other than to bring books, prepare to read aloud in front of a camera, and that a portion of the proceeds will benefit the Children's hospital. Not much to go on. This is what I have done.

  • I have plenty of business cards ready with my contact information. This way even those who don't purchase a book will take away a tangible way to reach me.
  • I have books ready to sell. The publisher also has back up cases. We may have too many but I like to be prepared. I also have made a simple order blank to pass out with my business card for those who were not prepared to buy today. Many may want to order for a gift, for their school, or at a later date.
  • This particular signing, the publisher is handling all purchases at one station so that all books sold that day from the authors present will get their donation deducted before receiving their commissions. If I were to be there alone, I would need to have a cash box and a way to accept payments and make change. A sign telling buyers who to make the check out to is also helpful and you have covered all bases. Know your tax rate and the laws pertaining to book sales. If tax is included in the price make that known to the buyer.
  • Have a table with a nice cloth or an attractive way to set up your books to grab the buyer. Just like the first paragraph grabs the reader, your initial appearance and impression grabs the buyer. This doesn't have to be elaborate but simple, clean, and attractive.
  • Dress neatly and appropriate for your setting. Wear your best asset which should be your smile and friendly manner at all times. Again, your first impression is your best. You may not have a chance to change the mind of a visitor who gets the wrong first impression and believe me that bad impression will be remembered when you publish again.
  • Have fun. Enjoy the process. Stay in the moment and put your outside concerns away for the day. This is what you  have worked for so truly enjoy the experience. Take mental notes if not written notes of contacts you may need in the future. With luck and hard work you will be in this place again.
These are just a few things that I am concentrating on, but marketing, blogging, and advertising before an event is also a must. What do you do to prepare for a book signing? How do you market yourself and your work that enhances what a marketing team may also be doing?

Feel free to comment and offer your tips to our readers. And check our archives for more articles on marketing  or grab a copy of The Frugal Book Promoter by Carolyn Howard-Johnson for more excellent advice on self promotion.

Terri Forehand is a Neonatal Nurse and author of The ABC's of Cancer According to Lilly Isabella Lane and Pepper's Special Secret. Visit her website at or her blog at

Why Writers Need to Become Time Aware

By W. Terry Whalin   @terrywhalin As a writer, I want to increase my writing and ability to publish (in any format). I’m basically saying I ...