That Time I Learned That a Successful Book Signing Isn’t About How Many Books You Sell…

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BandNWe had been looking forward to our bookstore book signing for well over a month. I was especially excited to be there the weekend before Christmas because we knew the store would be packed. I had publicized it all over social media. I had high expectations.

When we arrived, we were set up with a really small table near the entrance. It would have been an ideal location had the gift wrapping table not been set up right in front of us, but I figured we could make do. They placed the copies of Spaz: The True Story of My Life With ADHD on the table and we put up out sign, our t-shirts, free cups, and special “Spaz” cookies made by our dear friend, Aimee. We snapped a couple of photos and then we were ready for the masses of people coming to get their signed copies of our book.

Only, the masses didn’t come. Or rather, they came, just not over to our table. Person after person walked in, glanced over, and continued walking.

I grew agitated. Then I unleashed a torrent of word vomit. “Should we greet people at the door? Should we hand out our bookmarks? No one can see us because the gift wrappers are standing in front of us. Smile. Are you smiling? Offer someone a cookie. Should we stand up? Are you sure they can see us?…” Leigh was not amused. He told me to relax. Yes, the “Spaz” told me to relax! I couldn’t do it so I grabbed a stack of bookmarks and started to walk around the store.

After a few laps of handing out bookmarks, I returned to our table expecting to see Leigh there alone, killing time on his phone. Only, he wasn’t alone. At the table, “Spaz” book in hand, was a girl of about 11 years old and her mom. They were engrossed in conversation with Leigh. As I approached I heard him talking about being bullied as a child and saw the mom nodding along. “Yes!” The mom said. “She has had so many issues with bullies!” She exclaimed gesturing to her daughter.

“But you can’t let them define you” Leigh stated. “You have to focus on your strengths and not worry when others try to point out your weaknesses. Your unique qualities are what make you great and the bullies can’t take that from you.” The girl lifted her head a little higher and I saw her braces emerge as she smiled adoringly up at Leigh. She nodded shyly.

“Thank you for this,” her mom said, gesturing to the “Spaz” book in her hand. “Thank you for doing this.” They turned toward the check-out and got in line.

As I sat back down I felt ashamed. I had been so caught up in trying to make it a “successful” book signing with tons of people and tons of sales that I had lost sight of what was really important–Making a difference in people’s lives. Even if that was the only book we sold that day, I realized that it didn’t matter because that mom and her daughter were taking something positive away from our book and from meeting Leigh. That little girl would hold her head up a little higher because she would now know that she, too, could be successful and she, too, could face the bullies. She could face them, and win.

Because if “Spaz” can do it, so can you.

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