Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Fairytale Booksigning with Nora Roberts

We all know that the writing business is tough, whether you're just starting out and waiting for The Call or a veteran author, as I learned in my retreat this weekend at the published authors' roundtable discussion. Getting published opens up another set of fears. What if it doesn't sell? What if I can't write another book as good as the first? What if it gets bad reviews? How am I going to promote? What is I can't stay published? And for me a biggie was, what about booksignings? I imagined this nightmarish image of me sitting in a big bookstore, my face pale, looking like a deer in headlights as people walked through the door and past my little table. My experience was anything but.

First, let me start with the day before. My dear friend and critique partner, Dana Rodgers and I headed to Boonsboro, Maryland, where Nora Roberts husband's bookstore is located. What a drive. It was gorgeous, the storms from the night before were fading away. And in the midst of my celebrating, let's all remember the families of those who lost so much. Such a tragic thing.
But this trip had been planned for a long time, so we arrived in Boonsboro. Turn the Page is a small, quaint bookstore owned by Bruce Wilder, Nora's husband. Across the street is Inn Boonsboro, Nora's gorgeous Inn, with each room named after the characters from a great story. It was incredible. The rooms, the décor…the toilets. They did everything from open by themselves to drying your nether regions, after washing them of course, and I’m not kidding. The Inn was gorgeous. The picture above is the back of the Inn. The front is so near the street, they don't really use the doors.

Inside our room, the Jane and Rochester, there was a copy of Awaken the HighlandWarrior waiting, with a letter asking if I could please take a moment to sign it for the Inn's library. "Oh, I think so, Nora." And there was a bag of heather-scented bath goodies for me. We roamed the inn, checking out the library and dining room before heading outside. I've never seen a place like Boonsboro. It was a cute, small town. I've seen cute, small towns before, but no matter what store we entered, they treated us with amazing hospitality. That evening, we met some wonderful fans who were staying at the Inn. They had flown in from Florida and Chicago just to meet Nora. We spent some time together laughing and talking, and now they're fans of mine as well as beta readers.

On the day of the signing, a short, adorable woman popped into the dining room with the
announcement that, "They kissed. It's done." We had no idea what she was talking about until she mentioned the royal wedding. Dana and I were already living a fairytale. We also had no idea that the woman was Shauna Summers of Bantam Dell. People make all kinds of crazy excuses to get an audience with editors, and there we were, alone in the dining room chatting with her and didn't even know who she was. We watched people lining up outside the bookstore, some waiting for hours to get inside. I honestly expected that it would be awkward because I'm unknown. I figured I would only sell a few copies, but I knew I would have fun anyway since it would be a great experience.

I was shocked to see people coming through the line with Awaken the Highland Warrior in their hand, asking me to autograph it, autograph their tote bags, even store paper bags, and some wanted photos with me. I can't even explain the feeling of stopping everything so I could stand up and take a picture with a fan. Incredibly amazing. There were so many wonderful readers and all those great writers, like Alix Rickloff, next to me.

Needless to say, I was stunned when the books in front of me disappeared. I still can’t believe I sold out. Apparently Nora Roberts' table was quite excited about it. I heard she was surprised but pleased because debut authors never sell out at these booksignings. The bookstore manager was shocked as well. She scrambled to see if she could locate more copies elsewhere in the store, but couldn’t. It didn’t hurt that Dana was there with me. They let her sit next to me. She chatted people up and I’m sure a few bought books just because she sold them on how great she thought the story was. I’m telling you, all writers need a Dana. And an agent like Christine. I wouldn’t be here without her.

Then a reporter from Hagerstown MD showed up asking who was Anita Clenney. Me, he was looking for ME!!! He interviewed me and even quoted me in the article. Well, he quoted other people too, but hey, I’m a debut author and he mentioned me first! And how totally cool that when they did the author photo shoot, there was yours truly between Nora Roberts and Sherrilyn Kenyon, with Kristan Higgins behind Nora. A little nobody like me can’t ask for more than that. All in all, it was a fairytale booksigning. And just in time for the release of Awaken the Highland Warrior. It's out!!!! All the hard work has paid off and now it's here. I'll give away a copy to one commenter. Comment on anything. Nora, books, Inns, toilets. I don't care.

16 comments:

Kari Lee Townsend said...

Wow, Anita, what an amazing story! I am so excited for you, and you deserve this. You've worked so hard and I can tell everyone, your book is amazing! I can't wait to read the "finished" copy again!

Anita Clenney said...

It was so much fun Kari. It was a perfect weekend.

Anita Clenney said...

There are some weird font things and spaces going on in this post, but I tried changing them and kept losing stuff so I'm going to leave it as is.

Cassy Pickard said...

Anita! This is so so so wonderful. I can't imagine what it felt like. But, having said that, you desire every moment of it all. And, this is not the only time you'll be having this experience. Maybe the first, but no the only. Thanks so much for sharing. It was a delight to read.

Anita Clenney said...

Cassy, it was so surreal to be there. Just amazing. I wish every writer could have this experience for their first booksigning. And it was so great to see Kristan again. I didn't get to talk to her at the booksiging, but I did chat for a few minutes at the retreat. She gave a lovely speech and her workshop was awesome.

Donna Cummings said...

Anita, that sounds like it was perfect! I'm glad you had such a great time. It makes all the hard work worthwhile. :) Congrats again.

Barbie Jo Mahoney said...

I am soo thrilled for you! What an experience! And you sold OUT! Ahhhhhh!!!!! I was grinning like an idiot reading you post.

You and Dana remind me of the southern version of Kari and I! (hee hee)And I could just imagine the laughing fits we would have had over the 'toilets' and drying of the 'netherregions'!! hahahahahahahah!!! OMG, it would have been waaay too much fun.

What an awesome experience for you and I'm sure there will be many more! You've done it girl and we are so stinkin' proud of you!

Anita Clenney said...

It was so much fun, Donna. I felt like I was playing the part of an author in a movie or something.

Anita Clenney said...

Thanks Barbie Jo. Yes, I think Dana and I are the equivalent of you and Kari. You two would have died. I should have posted the pictures of us fully clothed in the big copper tub. Separately of course.And we took pictures of the controls for the commode.

Liz Lipperman said...

Ooh, Anita, I am living vicariously through you. It sounds terrific. And as I mentioned before, you so deserve it.

As for Dana...this is the same girl who bellied up to the bar to do a shooter for you in Orlando...my kind of friend. You know what they say.. a good friend bails you out of jail. A great friend is in there with you!!

Congrats, you sweet thing. You are so deserving. I was asked to do a booksigning with two other writers-- both big time authors--in October when my book comes out. I'm already getting nervous.

Anita Clenney said...

Yep, Dana is that kind of friend. She's amazing. You'll do great at the booksigning. Everyone will buy the book. You're such a character, you should write yourself into a book. :)

Lindsay said...

I'm so thrilled for you Anita. Last night I started reading Awaken the Highland Warrior and would have stayed up all night until morning but my Kindle need to be charged. I couldn't put it down. In three words-This Book Rocks

Anita Clenney said...

Thank you Lindsay. It's great to know someone didn't want to put the book down. I'm so glad you liked it.

Lindsay said...

More like love it

Clarissa Southwick said...

Congratulations on a fantastic book tour. It sounds like a dream come true. May you have many more just as successful :)

Leanne109 said...

Hope I'm not too late! I can't wait to read your book! pls. enter me to win it!