Monday, September 21, 2015

May the Force be with you!

A few years ago, the local volunteer library called: Would I be interested in signing my books at Barnes and Noble to raise funds for the library? The store would donate a percentage of all sales.

It sounded like a win-win, but I’m cautious by nature—usually. “Tell me more.”

Just a couple of hours on a Saturday afternoon, and the local Star Wars re-enactors would be there to draw people to the store.

Not just publicity and sales for me and money for the library, but fun. “I’d be happy to do it,” I told them.

So I turned up at B&N at the proper time and there were Darth Vader, Princess Leia, a nice selection of troopers, and a Wookie, standing around a table holding my books. I sat myself down, Darth Vader wheezing through his mask at the back of my neck. We chatted about their organization, licensed by the Star Wars franchise to make charity appearances, provided their costumes were really authentic-looking.

The customers came. Well, “customers” is the wrong word. A series of parents came with children who wanted to be photographed with the Star Wars characters. One little girl particularly wanted Princess Leia, but alas, by that time she’d had to leave to pick up her son from soccer practice.

The one thing they didn’t come for was to buy mysteries set in England in the 1920s. I sold two or three, but it couldn’t be called a successful event for the library, B&N, or me.

Ah well, at least they did have my books in the store. I’ve turned up for B&N signings, advertised long in advance, where they didn’t have a single copy of any of my 50+ books!

Carola Dunn is author of the Daisy Dalrymple Mysteries, Cornish Mysteries, and multitudinous Regencies.


  1. Hey, Friday was Star Wars night at CoAmerica Park (where the Tigers play, of course) ... and the force was with them (the Tabbies) that night. Coincidence??

  2. It seems there are numerous potholes on the road to writing fame and fortune. I always have brought my own copies of books to have in case there was a glitch in ordering adequate (or any) copies by the bookstore or other venue.

  3. Marketing wise, it was a poor fit. That's why it is so critical to target your marketing efforts toward readers who love what you do. If you write historical romance or mystery, there are large groups that love those genres. Banding together with other historical writers for events draws bigger crowds. I do love the idea of having characters dressed up to add to the festivities.

  4. Sounds like a cool event though unlikely to draw historical readers. Still, it's great to be asked to participate in something like that.
    Susan Says

  5. I really did it to help our little library, not in the expectation of many sales. And as someone pointed out on FB--I got this pic out of it!!

  6. I couldn't even get our library, and it's a beautiful one, to take the offer of Sisters in Crime's "We Love Libraries" $1000 offer. They looked at me like I was nuts. I couldn't get them to answer emails about having my books in their ebook library when I was with a distributor either. Good for your library. Not so good for mine.

    1. It's just a tiny volunteer affair because we don't have a countywide library system so people in my area have to cough up $120 a year to get a city library card. I did get them one of the SinC library grants. The city library doesn't need it--well, all libraries always need funds but they have a solid taxpayer base. And all my mysteries, many of my Regencies.

  7. Polly, that is truly sad. One of the main ways libraries will stay relevant is community outreach and holding events that bring people in, especially if it means fundraising.


The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.


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