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I write novels, eat dark chocolate, raise three children, love my husband, scrub toilets, ignore the laundry, and love a good story, but hardly ever in that order.



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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Book Signings, A Video Tutorial

I’m going to let you in on a secret in the glamorous life of an author: People tend to think authors have leprosy or at least want to sell them an Amway toaster. The reason I know this is because of the book signing phenomenon. Now, when I wrote my first book, Balancing Act, my publisher asked about book signings that I was planning and I thought, “Yes! Of course! Book signings!” Images danced in my literary head, pictures of long lines of people clamoring to see me, gushing their excitement about the book, maybe a few tears at the thrill of it, Marc shaking his head and saying,

Turns out, the only ones crying are usually my children, upset that Mommy’s Book has AGAIN ruined a perfectly good afternoon. People do come, but only if they’re blood relation or paid handsomely, and only my mother clamors to see me. And the thing is, I’M GUILTY OF THE SAME THING. Confession: A few years back, before I was in the bih-nuss, I walked by a book signing table at Barnes and Noble. The author was a local TV personality who had penned a spiritual memoir. He sat with a brave smile on his face, surrounded by stacks of books, while NO ONE, and I mean NO ONE was stopping by. I DID NOT STOP BY. Here I am, years later, and I would like to say, John Bachman of TV 13, wherever you are, I’m very sorry I didn’t stop. I know better now. Here’s what I’ve learned:

1. You do not need to know the author of the book to stop by a signing event or table. You do not need to know her name, the title of any of her books, if she’s famous (probably not) or if she writes real stories or ones she makes up in her head. She does not expect that you’ve ever heard of her and will not think a thing of it if you haven’t.

2. You DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT need to feel guilty if you don’t buy a book. There you are, standing in a bookstore filled with hundreds of thousands of books, and you might find the book being hawked by this particular author is not up your alley. Not your cup of tea. Not a good fish for your fry pan. Simply smile and say something like this:

3. Finally, authors are people too. They work for their money and do so in a highly competitive business. While perfectly woman enough to know everyone will not want to buy her book, an author will still be sad if you say something like:

Now, in my opinion, in order to make a signing fun for everyone and worth a bookseller’s time and effort, I prefer to pile most of my eggs in one basket and invite the entire universe to one event. I send cards, advertise, beg, plead, and make a fool of myself in social settings, trying to avoid the Sit And Smile By a Stack of Books thing. In a couple weeks, for instance, we’ll have our grand soiree at Beaverdale Books in Des Moines. Big signing, big fun, champagne and chocolate, me wearing something that does not require Spanx but still, mysteriously, makes me look young, nubile and Heidi Klum-ish. (Any tips on this?) I’ll give a brief book chat and then set to having good conversation about books and anything else. The folks in Des Moines are always very good to me and we usually have a great, rollicking crowd of well wishers by night’s end. Eventually, my children will voice their protests about Mommy’s Book ruining a perfectly nice fall evening, Marc will clear his throat, and we’ll be off, home to collapse into bed after a really, really fun night.

So, for example, if you’re out and about in Des Moines, on the evening of Friday, September 11, starting at 6:30 p.m., and you want chocolate or some bubbly or a good read signed by a not-famous author, stop by. I’d love to see you. And John Bachman, if you show up, you get a free copy and a brave smile, from one author to another.

Book release signing! Beaverdale Books, Des Moines. Friday, September 11, from 6:30 p.m. until we get tired. Brief book talk at 6:45.


  1. You crack me up! I loved the videos inserted, made me laugh. I hope to be there for the signing and I WILL actually buy the book because I want to read it, not because of guilt or anything else. I'm very excited for you! 4 books while being a Mom at the same time..way to go!

  2. kim you crack me up. if you ever decide to come out california way ill do my best to rally your fans. i work with a ton of women and could convince a lot of them to come meet you.....
    mr. chris sayers

  3. I'll be there...wouldn't miss it.

  4. Mr. Chris Sayers

    Count me in! I have family in Cali, too, and they're the wild, verbal kind (shared gene pool). I can feel a flight to LAX coming on...


  5. I love the videos Kim! I even insisted Michael pause the Bears game because I wanted company laughing, and he DID. I think we have had children bleeding for which he did not pause the game. (Michael just confirmed this paragraph with an "all true".)

    Can't wait for the book signing. I love that graceful way you brandish the pen. And by the way, when you are dressing, not sure if Heidi Klum should or should not be your goal unless mumus are your thing--are you aware she's like 8 months pregnant or so?!

  6. I'll never pass by an author at a book table again.

    By the way, Stretch Marks is such a lovely title for a book. I hope if I ever write a book I can think of as wonderful a title!

  7. My book just arrived via UPS (Monday 8-31); I had preordered on Amazon! I will be in Des Moines on the 11th but I don't think I will be staying late enough to attend the book signing.
    Chris Klein, Pella

  8. Thanks, Chris! Let me know what you think of the book. And I'll keep you posted--I think I'll be signing in Grinnell in October. Kind of in your neck of the woods.... :)


  9. I have the complete and utter pleasure of being Kim's neighbor and babysitter for her three beautiful blessings. Kim kindly allowed me te luxury of getting the book early and right now I'm 2/3 through and it is hilarioius, clever, witty,engaging. I can't wait to finish it! It is a must read for anyone who has a heart for children, or loves a good laugh over a disfunctional family to make a perfect story plot. Kim did it again, another success is on it's way don't deny the pleasure and pick one up for yourslef :), Congratulations, Kim, I'm so proud of you!

  10. I laughed so hard. Ben and I were both amused. Keep the posts coming!

  11. Thanks for the laughs! I will do better about stopping by to say hi to authors in my Borders. I would come to your book signing, but it's a three hour commute...however, if you're ever in the Quad Cities...I go to Borders. AND I recently made a resolution to stop by authors tables when they're there.!

  12. Fresh Farm Jessica, I'm THERE. I have family in the Quad Cities! Bettendorf! I'm sure we can work something out if you promise to tell all your friends, neighbors, and postal workers I'm coming to town. :)

    I'll keep you posted...


  13. You are so funny! I wish I could come. Be sure to let me know if you make it out to NYC or Philly or somewhere in between. (Though I'm quite certain there is nothing in between except ... well, me and my family and about 40,000 malls.) Have a great time!

  14. I just finised reading your new book! I am in love once again! You are a wonderful writer! God has blessed you with a great sense of humor and the ability to put into words what we all are thinking in our minds and don't have the guts to say! One of my favs is when you use the voice of Gollum to discribe Mia's during labor. I have given birth twice now without drugs. Not be choice ,mind you, but because the little ones were coming to fast! I KNOW that's how I sounded! I can't wait to see you on Tuesday at Mops. Keep writing! I already excited to read your next creation!

  15. love the vid clips and wish I could come. I'm working on getting a copy sent to me :). FYI - Amazon.de (germany) has a Act II and Balancing Act listed - but can't get Stretch Marks over here yet. Well, I could get 'stretch marks', oh, never mind.

  16. That was hysterical! Wonderful advice. I came here from Ginger Garret's blog. I'm setting up a FIRST Wild Card tour for her right now. I know we have your book scheduled as well (Oct. 8th!).

    Glad to meet you on your blog. You are my kind of people. Hope to someday have you sign my Strech Marks. Ew...that's gross! Hahaha!

  17. Waiting to return to the US (from Geneva, Switzerland) to pick up copies of ALL your books. I've put my daughter (mother of 4 under 5 yrs-- including twins) onto your website (WDM Valley HS in a life before we moved to Europe), and she says there isn't much to make her laugh at the moment, but you do!) Soooo... you have fans in Europe. Keep the blogs and books coming!

  18. Love the comments! My one and only book signing was with three other local authors - we found that at least we had each other to talk to as we sat there not talking with readers! LOL :)