I have discovered that three out of four writers can stand for two hours at a book signing event, and I am the fourth writer. I did stand for the short presentations, where each of us described our books, though I had to lean on random pieces of furniture while the others spoke, and then I almost tripped myself when it was my turn. For the rest of the time we were set up at four small tables, side by side, though, again, I was the only one actually sitting at my table, with everyone else sort of floating nearby. I chose the table with a Picasso-like picture of a girl with brown hair, because it looked like I felt, and sat behind a copy of Yeshiva Girl set up in a Lucite holder. It occurred to me that I should have made some kind of display – two crocheted dragons, maybe, like the YA Fantasy writer, or a blow up of the cover photo on the book, like the memoir writer – but, too late. All I had was me.
I was the newbiest of the newbies there, because the fantasy writer had been doing signings for her book since 2016, and the other two were classroom teachers, but I found that as long as I was able to sit down, and people could come over to me to ask their questions or tell me their stories, I did really well. I’ll have to practice my standing-and-speaking skills, though, for the future. People seemed to actually be interested in the premise of my book, which surprised me. I walk around assuming that no one will be interested in anything I have to say, though, of course, desperately hoping that they’ve been waiting all their lives just to meet and hear from me.
Each person I met had a story, or a thousand stories, to tell and I was awed by them and curious about them, and a little bit overwhelmed, as in, who’s going to notice my star in the midst of such a starry sky. I met a local humor columnist, who bought my book, and we talked about wanting to write mysteries, and the books we’ve read, and writing inspirations, and I had to be careful not to geek out too much and ignore the rest of the potential readers in the room. I met one woman who wanted to read my book, but was afraid it would be too painful, though she encouraged her friends to read it, and talked to me about the importance of people feeling safe to speak up and tell their stories. And there was a woman who’d gone to a tiny catholic school in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, way back when, and had plenty of stories to tell about the experience. And another woman who had worked for a Chassidic-run company and felt her otherness acutely.
I’d only started to get nervous two nights before the book signing event, and the anxiety only became acute that morning, with an internal voice telling me that it would all turn to shit, and I was completely unprepared, and I didn’t have the right clothes or makeup, and I would fall into a deep depression after the inevitable and complete failure.
But I did it! I signed books! I stood in front of strangers and presented my book! I didn’t hide under my bed – the way I wanted to – or pretend to be someone I’m not.
I sold four books and signed five (my aunt came with her own copy, and she stayed for the whole two hours for moral support! Yay Aunt Debbie!). And the woman who ran the event, Robin, one of the owners and the superstar event coordinator at Dolphin Books in Port Washington, NY, asked me to sign two extra copies for the store. Here’s hoping I get more chances to try it again, and next time bring one or both of the dogs for moral support, or to scream at people to buy Mommy’s book.
I want to thank the other authors at the event:
A high school history teacher/coach (Billy Mitaritonna, Last of the Redmen: Memoir of a St. John’s Walk-on) who wrote about the power of perseverance, and said that the secret was in how his coaches and his father encouraged and supported him no matter how many times he failed. He said that his students were the ones who told him to write his memoir, to share his story with others because it had been so inspiring to them.
Then there was the Dragon Girl (Elana A. Mugdon, Dragon Speaker: The Shadow War Saga, Book One), who was brave beyond my capacity to imagine. She dressed as the protagonist in her young adult fantasy series, wearing a long white wig, in pig tails, a corset, and leather armor. Her protagonist is the only non-magical person in her world, and yet she is the heroine of the story.
The fourth author was a graphic designer (Beth Costello, The Art of the Process: establishing good habits for successful outcomes) with a workbook to help people through the process of design. She had the confidence of a practiced teacher, and the social media skills to have a roomful of supporters waiting to hear from her and buy her book (which meant that I had an audience too!).
I could have used a vat of chocolate frosting in the aftermath of the event, to soothe my frayed nerves, but as soon as we got home the girls needed to go out to pee and that helped with the depressurization process. They squealed their excitement at having their humans back home and raced around the yard with their famous author slash pooper scooper Mommy, and then we settled in on the couch to watch something silly and romantic on television. Overall a successful day.
If you haven’t had a chance yet, please check out my Amazon page and consider ordering the Kindle or Paperback version (or both!) of Yeshiva Girl. And if you feel called to write a review of the book on Amazon, or anywhere else, I’d be honored.
Yeshiva Girl is about a Jewish girl on Long Island named Izzy (short for Isabel). Her father has been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior with one of his students, which he denies, but Izzy implicitly believes that it’s true. Izzy’s father decides to send her to an Orthodox yeshiva for tenth grade, out of the blue, as if she’s the one who needs to be fixed. Izzy, in pain, smart, funny, and looking for people she can trust, finds that religious people are much more complicated than she had expected. Some, like her father, may use religion as a place to hide, but others search for and find comfort, and community, and even enlightenment.
Congratulations! I hope it gets easier for you with subsequent book signings and more books get sold.
Me too! Thank you!!!
I love your bravery! It’s one thing for us writers to write–that’s solitude–and quite another to have to voice our thoughts on command in front of an audience. I love that you recognized everyone had a story–and didn’t get so wrapped up in your own. I think that’s what makes a wonderful author meet-and-greet. Congrats!
How brilliant you should be very proud of such an achievement 💐
Congrats–So glad to hear the signing went well! Onward and upward!
Thanks for liking a few of my dishes.I too am Jewish, and as you probably saw, I wrote a memoir/cookbook. Glad your signing went well. I find it hard to sell my book., It goes well, if you have a regular publisher. I have published 5 previous books which were much easier to sell. At a recent signing I sold 3 books, but I still have many, many books to sell and am finding places here and there to sell them or do presentations/talks. i hope doing the blog will help, but, it’s just been a month that I’m doing it, so, I’m cautiously optimistic.. Good luck with your book! I do have several recipes from my childhood that connect to my Jewish heritage. I love it when people attend my event and like you I like sharing things with them. And, like you too, I love it when people buy my book! I really feel so thankful and proud! .
Thank you! Good luck with your books!
Congratulations! Good for you to face your fears and step out into the new chapter of YOUR life! Sounds like a great day.
I finished the first quarter of your novel and find the chapters featuring interaction between Izzy and her father especially intriguing. Your Dad character’s offhand manner makes his evil nature more threatening.
Yes, and her longing for his approval is poignant, painful and true-to-life.
Thank you so much!
You did it! The thing that so many people only dream about! You made it real.
I’m trying. Thank you!
Well done. You deserve that vat of chocolate frosting!
Reblogged this on Wag 'n Bietjie.
Congratulations! It’s a great accomplishment.
good to see this
I loved reading this. Thanks for sharing it (and for liking my post! I feel honoured). I’ve now been pouring over the “look inside” of your book on Amazon when I should have been writing. ;)) It is absolutely riveting. I have bought it on Kindle (well actually “borrowed” it via Kindle Unlimited since that popped up with “free trial” offer when I went to buy it — do authors still get recompense for books “bought” via KU?) Your dogs are adorable btw. That last picture especially, so cute!!
Thank you! And thank you so much for getting YG! I love knowing that it’s making its way out into the world.
Your blog is always a must-read. Just bought your book, Yeshiva Girl , and I know it will be a welcome to my book collection. Many blessings and thanks. Mazel tov!
A “fellow” writer,
Thank you so much for the support!!!!
How wonderful for you to have your book published :-). Hope the sales go well.
Hi, I loved hearing about your book so much so that I just ordered the Kindle version. My husband of 5 years is Jewish. I’m enjoying reading the Torah each week and learning more about Jewish Holidays. The doctor who saw us in ER after a horrific accident was a Yshiva boy and the Sabbath had just ended. We had a great time talking. He even checked out our dog, Moishe, who passed his exam with flying colors and went back to barking like an insane dog. (He was. From his perspective his car and home , our travel trailer, had all been lost and he had no home except us. He must keep us safe!)
Your life sounds like a novel itself! I’m desperate to meet Moishe!
Congrats on your book, Rachel. About 20 years ago I wrote a golf novel. EaCh chapter was a different hole. So, 18 chapters!. People told me it was to analytical – that is, a golf pro did. STICK TO YOUR GUNS! I sold one copy – it became a cult classic.
Well done Rachel. I agree the girls should be part of this, A small sign around a neck – “Buy our Moms Book. I have not read the book yet, but I did buy it, so that’s a start.
Small steps…. Thank you!
Thank you, Rachel, for the like on my Sparrow on the Lattice ar Elm Drive Images.
Good for you for reaching outside your comfort zone and congratulationa on the event!
Rachel: Thanks for your like on, Elm Drive Images.
Congratulations! I am impressed that you wrote a book and published it. That is such a huge accomplishment, and you are my inspiration.
I will be purchasing a copy of your book and can’t wait to read it.
I think a few pieces of chocolate would be okay!
Thank you so much!
Well done on the signing. I may have said this before but what beautiful dogs.
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