My first book signing.

Last Saturday, I participated in the Local Author Book Fair that was held at the Brecksville Library in, you guessed it, Brecksville Ohio. This was my first time ever doing something like this, and I am rather proud to say that I only cried hysterically for about twenty minutes prior to leaving.

I don’t handle stress well.

As luck would have it, I managed to spot two layout errors in about a minute of flipping through the pages of my book while my fiancée, Mike, got ready. It really irritated me. I wanted to feel as though self-publishing wasn’t some sloppy, second-rate means of putting out something that nobody else wanted. I did this for myself, because I wanted to, not because I had lost faith in the publishing industry or felt as though it was the only way that I’d ever get anything published. I wanted there to be an air of equality surrounding my book. Something that looked like a real book that went through normal big box publishing procedures. And here I was, staring at the words “Chapter Eighteen” on the bottom of one page, with the chapter starting on the next.

I felt like such a failure. Cue all the sobbing and desperate attempts to keep my eyeliner in place.

But Mike, he is an amazing human specimen. He went into the bedroom, grabbed a ten dollar bill, and dropped it on the table in front of me. He had read some of the book, but just little clips that I had let him see. He hadn’t finished the book yet, and thought that right then, when I was feeling at my lowest, would be a good time to make a purchase. It was a very kind move and definitely made me feel better.

He asked me to sign it for him, which I proceeded to sort of mess up by starting to sign it with my real name instead of the pen name. It ended up working out to my advantage though. My new signature has a capital J, a lowercase e, and a capital A, because my real name starts with an A and that was how far I got before I realized that I was screwing up. My name is like NyQuil now, with a completely unnecessary A in the middle of it for no reason.

The set up for the fair was pretty nice. We were lead to a big room with a bunch of folding tables covering the perimeter. I chose one that, at the time, wasn’t close to anyone else, and set my books and business cards up. One thing I’d like to do for the next book signing I, at the very least, bring a tablecloth. My table was very bland in comparison to other people. It’s a small thing, and holds no bearing on the selling of the book, but it is something to remember for next time. There were maybe ten other authors there, all from different ethnic backgrounds, ages, and genres. There was a guy who wrote paranormal encyclopedias, a guy who wrote a story about that Anthony Sowell guy from Cleveland who killed a bunch of women, a woman who wrote an autobiography of her life as a barber, and a lady who sat next to me who wrote mysteries surrounding chili cook-offs. It was interesting to see the styles of other authors, and everyone was very nice and happy to be there.

Once library patrons started to come in, I got really nervous. I have never been very good at explaining my story to others, for some reason, and was afraid that I would stumble through like a mad woman if anyone bothered to ask me about it. In reality, I wasn’t expecting to sell anything, let alone have people talk to me at all about it.  But people did come over to talk to me. After a little while, I got better and more comfortable explaining my story, and people really seemed to like it.

The best part of the day came when a gentleman walked up to me with his son. The son looked to be around 15 or so, and seemed very nervous.

“Look,” the father said. “You get to meet a real author!”

My heart skipped a beat. I introduced myself, and explained the story to the family. The boy smiled, and his dad asked if he wanted a book. He nodded, his dad handed over the money, and then said “don’t forget to ask her to sign it!”

I signed the boy’s copy. He was beaming. I can’t remember his name though. It all went by in a blur. They walked away, the boy clutching my book, and I did my best to keep myself from crying. And failed.

A good friend came in and bought a book as well, which was so incredibly kind and fantastic of him. On top of that, I sold my book to two other strangers. So, five books in one day. I’d consider that a win.

I could have walked out of there having sold absolutely nothing, and I still would have considered it a win. I found confidence there at the signing. I realized that no matter how much I beat myself up, I deserved to be there just like all the other authors. I am a writer. This is what I do. And I can validate it now. I can mark down that signing as the day that I became official. It took me eight years to finish writing Polarity.

It was totally worth the wait.

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