What happens if you have a book signing and nobody comes?
Fortunately, that has not yet happened to me at the three author events I have had since my book release in August. While my turnout has not always been large, those who have shown up and talked to me have been a surprising and interesting mix of people.
All have spent some time in conversation about autism which is great, given that my mission is to “keep the conversation going.”
Of course, some who came to events were people I already know or who follow my Facebook page at Debbie Frick – Author. They find out about my book events there.
There were also old acquaintances who were unexpected, like my former kindergarten student turned adult who came with her mother. It turns out she follows the independent book store on social media and saw my name.
Then there was the medical doctor who has Asperger Syndrome. He was definitely an unexpected and interesting guest.
At a cafe event I chatted with a woman I know. As she shared stories about her child with ASD another woman that neither of us knew joined in to hear more. This woman has a grandchild on the spectrum.
There are so many stories about autism to hear and digest.
When people are presented with the opportunity and a non-judgmental audience, they want to share their stories and listen to the experiences of others. I am glad they feel comfortable doing that at my table.
My first event was a celebration of the book release which was held by a teacher friend, my former teammate of many years. This private event was held at her home. Those invited were people with whom I had taught through the years. It was so much fun seeing people who had retired before me and those I had not seen since I retired five years ago. At least there I was pretty sure someone would come.
Teacher support is strong for a book describing the lives of families of children with autism. My old friends were all enthusiastic and positive.
My second event was held at a small, independent book store. They promoted it more as a monthly presentation by an author than as a book signing. My name was part of a search and find mission on the social media event they created.
I arrived to a room with a podium and lecture style seating. I immediately pushed the podium aside and arranged the seats in a conversational circle. After all, my book and my ongoing mission is about conversation. This arrangement seemed more appropriate.
The event was attended by the mother and father of a student who had attended my school, although he had never been in my class. I knew from social media that they were probably coming. While they were getting settled, in walked a man who told me he had Asperger Syndrome. I found out later that he is an M.D. When I asked him how he had found out about the event he said he had seen it on the internet, leaving me unsure as to which of my attempts at marketing had reached him. The last two women who came were the former student and her mom.
I began explaining how “Conversations About Autism” originally came to be and then invited questions.
One of the first questions had to do with my thoughts on vaccines!! Great, a question that doesn’t relate to the purpose of my book asked in the presence of a medical doctor with Asperger Syndrome!
I explained that my conversations were really about daily life with autism as shared by families. I did not discuss with these families the theories about the cause. The doctor added his thinking that there is no relationship. We all moved on. I enjoyed the other questions that were asked and the forty-five minutes that we chatted. After the conversations, I exchanged books with the doctor as he too is an author.
Once the other guests left, he stayed for a long time and shared more of the personal aspects of his story and struggle. We exchanged emails and I hope he will give me permission to share his story one day.
My third event, at an independent café which supports local authors brought out old friends and new. This is where the two women began talking to each other. I saw a friend of my son’s that I had not seen in about ten years. A café patron heard the word autism from her booth and came over to chat. Her job has something to do with autism training in schools. She grabbed a book saying it might be helpful to some of her families and returned to her lunch.
A young woman and her daughter were suddenly standing at my table. I never knew if she popped in from outside because she saw my sign or if she had been eating at the café.
She was suddenly there, pouring out the story of her ten-year-old son who has autism, is gifted, has learning disabilities, etc.
She and her husband have not yet told her son that he has autism and don’t know whether they should. I said that I have heard that before. It seems to be a question with which other parents have wrestled. She took my card, said she was meeting someone down the road, and was gone as quickly as she appeared.
Apparently, she needed to talk and I was glad to be there for her for just a few minutes!
Tomorrow – another book signing. What if I give a book signing and nobody comes?