No, it’s not me, I’m quite a way off that yet. As in the sun is quite a way off from planet earth. I’m on youwriteon.com there you can have your work reviewed by others. It’s brilliant. A lovely reviewer recently pointed out that my dog in chapter 1 was Lucy, who had turned into Rosie by Chapter 3. Then he said I should change the word bit into bid. I had an elderly couple who bit farewell to their new friend. Maybe they were undercover vampires in disguise. So I’m re-writing. Someone said most of writing is re-writing, they were right. That’s enough about me, I’m proud to invite Juliet Greenwood on to my blog. She did a book signing in Llandudno, North Wales recently. I’m nosey, so I asked her if she’d tell us how she got on. Over to Juliet.
Thank you, Susan, for inviting me to be a guest on your blog, and to talk about my recent experience of signing my novel Eden’s Garden in Waterstones in Llandudno. Because I live in a rural area in the hills of North Wales, my nearest Waterstones is a half-hour journey away. I drove along the coastal road on a gloriously sunny day, with the deep blue of the sea on one side and the fresh green of the mountains on the other, both excited and nervous and not quite sure what the day would bring. Supposing no one turned up and I sat there in utter mortification for the next few hours? Ah, there’s nothing like a bit of stage fright to get the adrenalin going.
This wasn’t exactly my first signing. I’d had my lovely launch in St Asaph with my editor and my wonderfully supportive friends, the North Wales Novelistas. After Eden’s Garden was chosen as Welsh Book of the Month for May, I’d also signed copies of books in several local bookshops, all of whom had been supportive and seemed just as excited as I felt. But this was my first signing in a big chain like Waterstones and it felt much more – well, exposed. In both a good and a slightly nerve wracking way. Because I’ve had quite a bit of press coverage since the publication in March, I’d made up a small display board with press cuttings, a few nice reviews and some photographs of the gardens that were the inspiration for Eden’s Garden. Luckily they aren’t heavy and they swung over my shoulder as I made my way from the car park to the main street. The street wasn’t exactly busy, and Waterstones was ominously quiet. It was the first sunny day in weeks, and despite the cold wind I was certain everyone within miles would have gone shooting off to find a beach.
The staff were lovely and made me welcome, settling me down at a table with my books, along with the author’s essentials of a coffee and a glass of water. Then the wait began. There were about three people in the shop, all of whom passed me by without a second glance. I dithered. So do you shout out and grab a punter as they pass? Possibly to find them slipping away as fast as they can while everyone else gives you a wide berth. Do you smile sweetly and wait, as people scuttle past, studiously avoiding your eye? The press cuttings seemed a mistake, too. No one appeared to want to stop and study them, in case they found themselves drawn into conversation and feel obliged to buy a book they would never read. I had just decided this was a very bad idea and maybe I should hide myself in the children’s section until it was time to go home, when my first customer arrived. Then another, and another. As I chatted away, more browsers came nearer and began to look at the book and read the blurb on the back. People began to look at the photographs on my display board, so I could explain about Brondanw Gardens, the home of Clough Williams-Ellis who built Portmeirion, and which had been such an inspiration.
I met some lovely readers that day. I loved chatting to them – even if they didn’t eventually buy my book. I secretly hoped that some would download it to their Kindles (at about half the price, so I couldn’t in all conscience blame them), and that some might come back and buy a copy anyhow. I met readers who shared my love of adventurous women and gardens, and who pounced on copies with the magic words ‘this looks like just my kind of book’. And throughout the day friends turned up to cheer me on and support me, which was great, too. Finally, I packed up my display board and made my way home again. Making sure I stopped for an ice cream at the beach in quiet celebration that my signing had been a success – and fun, after all. I’m sure I’ll be back signing my books again somewhere before long. But this time I shall feel relaxed about it, remembering the lovely readers I met at Waterstones, and looking forward to more absorbing conversations along the way. So here’s to bookshops and readers!