Where is the best spot for a book signing?
Writers debate this question endlessly. When we’re signing in a bookstore, should we have a table by the door? A quiet alcove? A special room?
How about when we give a speech? Should we have our own table piled with our books? Where should it be placed? By the door? Near the podium?
Sometimes, the best spots are the most unexpected.
My first mystery series is the Francesca Vierling novels, and they’re still in print as e-books and paperbacks. My heroine is a six-foot tall St. Louis newspaper columnist, which is what I was, until I got fired from the paper for insubordination.
“Rubout,” the second book in this series, takes place at the annual bikers society ball in St. Louis, where one thousand Harley riders gather.
It’s called the Leather and Lace Ball.
The ball is not open to the public, and the bikers wear the wildest outfits you’ve ever seen. One year, the queen of the ball wore a black lace body stocking and cowboy boots. That was all.
And she was a natural blonde.
The king wore a black leather vest, black chaps, and a G-string. We women were trying not to stare at this G-string, because his girlfriend was an over-the-road trucker. We were afraid she’d beat us up.
One woman was foolish enough (and drunk enough) to dance with the king. They were dancing cheek-to-cheek, so to speak, and I’m not talking about his face. The king’s girlfriend saw them, grabbed the poacher by the hair and said, “Leave him alone.” Her voice was so flat and scary, I backed away.
What if the poacher turned up dead? This became the basis for “Rubout.”
The St. Louis bikers helped me with this book, on the condition that I not make the killer a biker. These were members of the Kirkwood HOGs, which is short for Harley Owners Group. Despite the way the bikers looked, these were not Hell’s Angels. Most were family people, working men and women who liked to dress up in biker leather and wear tattoos that didn’t wash off.
I asked them about their favorite T-shirts. One guy told me his, and his wife hit him on the head. The T-shirt said, “If you can read this, the bitch fell off.”
When “Rubout” was published, the bikers gave me a signing at their meeting in a VFW hall.
They said, “Don’t worry, honey, we’ll put you where everyone can find you.”
It wasn’t by the podium, either.
The bikers put me at a table way in the back, between the men’s and women’s restrooms.
I sat there and wondered, “Does John Grisham sit between the bathrooms to sell books?” “Does Mary Higgins Clark get stuck by the johns?”
Then I didn’t have time to brood. The bikers drank a lot of beer, and soon they were heading for the restrooms.
They noticed the books on their way in. And bought them on their way out.
You never know what’s going to be a good signing site.
Now Pine-Sol smells like money. Cheers!