Three memorable incidents from a decade of book signings

April 18, 2016 9:12 pm Published by 3 Comments


I’ve had dozens of book signings over the past decade, beginning with the publication of my first thriller, Category 5, in 2005, and ending with my historical fiction novel, How Much Do You Love Me?, in 2014. Both Borders (until they departed) and Barnes and Noble bookstores have been receptive and very good to me.

I’ve written previously about what I’ve learned about conducting a successful book signing: But here, I recall three memorable incidents that are special to me:

Incident #1. Never judge a book by its cover!

This event occurred in the early days of my book signings. It was a cold, rainy day outside a California Borders. But before I tell you what happened, let me provide some background. I’ve learned how important it is to engage in conversation with potential buyers. Unless you can market your book and be a friendly person to talk to, you won’t have many sales. Still, in so doing, when someone walks by, I have to decide whether that person might buy my book. Some general rules prevail: women always buy more books than men; teenagers rarely buy your books.

So here’s what happened! Did I mention that it was a cold, rainy evening? This lady walks into the store, barefoot as I recall. Her clothes were disheveled and I, stereotypically (no credit to me, that’s for sure), decided that she was a homeless bag lady. I debated whether to ask her if she liked thrillers, but decided not to discriminate. I told her about my book, and to my surprise, she asked to purchase one, and I signed it. She then got to thinking that one of her relatives might like a copy. By the time she finished, I had signed five books. To this day, she holds my single-person sales record. I learned my lesson and decided, then and there, that it’s never wise to prejudge someone when it comes to selling a book.

Incident #2. Be gracious when the opportunity arises!

This event occurred a year or two ago. I had this one fan who had purchased one or two of my books previously. During a December signing (which is always a great time to sell books), he returned to buy another one. First, he wanted to have a picture taken with me (not an uncommon occurrence) and seemed genuinely appreciative for that. But what happened next blew me away. He handed me a Christmas card, which by itself was a nice gesture. But, then, I opened it and was stunned to discover a $50 Macy’s gift card. Shocked, I ran after him, explaining that a gift like that was much too generous. He disagreed and left the store.

Number #3. It’s a small world after all!

This event occurred just weeks ago at the Barnes and Noble in San Mateo, California. I don’t know what the odds are for what happened, but they must be tiny indeed.

I sold one of my thrillers to a young couple. The lady asked that I make it out to her father-in-law. As I wrote, I remarked that his last name was the same as someone in my graduating high school class back in Pennsylvania, a continent away. Long story short, her father-in-law was, in fact, my high school classmate. I bet I could spend a lifetime doing signings and never again have something like that happen.

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This post was written by paulmarktag


  • Julie says:

    Great! My son and I met you at Gilroy. We still remember this day and the story was so interesting thatHe read it himself after I was finish with it. Thank you we look forward to reading more of your books.

  • Julee says:

    I met you in Gilroy also. Bought two books you signed: one for my husband, and one for my son. Funny thing is, they haven’t read them yet, I did. Loved them, and bought two more.
    I too am waiting to read more of your books!

  • Julee says:

    I also met you in Gilroy. I bought two books you signed: one for my husband, and one for my son. Funny thing is, they haven’t read them yet, I did. Loved them! Bought two more for myself.
    I too look forward to reading more of your books!