Why Book Signings are So Important

Many authors, especially the more famous ones, avoid book signings. They feel that the amount of work required to put into a book signing doesn’t equal the sales returned. The ROI doesn’t calculate in favor of the author.

But I disagree. Book signings are some of my favorite events.book sign - 2nd book

With my most recent book signing, I was billed as a native of Enid, Oklahoma. The Hastings store in my home town hosted the signing and helped me advertise it.

What makes a successful book signing? Some authors believe selling 10-50 copies constitutes a success. But for me, the success of the event centers around the people who attend.

For example, in Enid, the following people visited my table:

• A prayer partner – a woman who faithfully prays for my ministry as writer, life coach and program director at GateWay of Hope. She also prays for my personal concerns and the cares of my family.

• My former piano teacher – the woman who taught me how to follow the notes but also how to play with my soul. She is still teaching me because every time we visit, I am awed and inspired by her gracious personality and her godly character.

• A high school and college friend – this woman has taught me about the importance of faith, especially when life unravels in different directions. She encourages me through social media and by attending the events that are important to me. She is an example of the believers in the Hebrews’ Hall of Faith.

• The sister of another high school friend – she came to buy each of the books so that she could read them and then send them on to her sister. Every time I see her at church, I am struck by the peace of God that rests on her, and I feel blessed.

• A friend of our family who continues to meet weekly with my mother, walks around the mall with her and drives her to Braum’s so they can have biscuits and gravy together. I have known her all my life and appreciated her kindness to our family.

• My own sister who buys books for six of her friends, filling her Christmas list early and encouraging me in the process. She interrupts her own schedule to fill my needs.

• A pastor and his wife who show loyalty to the family of their parishioners and continue to encourage me in my writing journey.

All these people uplifted me because they took the time on a busy Saturday to drive across town and buy one or more of my books. I know they will read the books and probably tell someone else about them. They will pray for me and that will build up my coverage in heaven for this wordsmithing I do.

But then – just as I began to pack my remaining books away – another person approached the table, picked up a book and asked, “What’s it about?”

“A woman minister,” I said, “who is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. She lives in assisted living and meets a whole group of interesting characters.”

“Perfect,” she said. “My mother’s best friend just went to live in assisted living. Mom doesn’t know what to do to help her, and she misses her so much – the things they used to do together.”

We talked for a while about how life changes so rapidly and how difficult Alzheimer’s and dementia can be for the caregivers. She bought the first book, “The Unraveling of Reverend G” and slipped a bookmark for the second book, “Intermission for Reverend G” into her purse. She picked up a business card, “So I can follow you online,” she said, “and buy the second book on Amazon.”

Then she moved toward the register, and I continued to pack up my books, grateful that I waited a few more minutes so that I could share hope with this lovely woman.

All my book signings have been successful – that is – I’ve sold more than 10 books. But the best part of the entire process is that I get to meet face to face the people who read the words God has given me. I get to thank them for coming and hopefully bless them with a hug or a handshake.

I meet people who will be encouraged by the story of this brave little minister with Alzheimer’s Disease, people who are caregivers, who experience the 36-hour day and know firsthand how it feels to live with a loved one who sometimes forgets.

Book signings are another way to share the message that no matter how dire life gets – God is still good and he never stops loving us.

©2014 RJ Thesman – “Intermission for Reverend G” – http://amzn.to/1l4oGoo

Liking My Words

As I started editing the third and final book in the Reverend G series, I wanted to be as objective as possible. Besides the work I do as a Life Coach and an Author – I am also an Editor. I know how to proofread for grammar mistakes, punctuation errors and content miscues.

Even with my own writing, I’m ruthless with edits. It doesn’t kill me to delete whole sections – even an entire chapter, if it doesn’t carry the story forward.3D Rev G cover

In fact, I often rewrite the entire manuscript seven or eight – even twelve times, striving for that best word, that a-ha moment and that paragraph that carries an internal truth.

But when I started editing this book, with my red pen in hand, I worked several minutes before I made any marks. I looked for mistakes, knowing that even the most careful writers make them. And yes, I found a couple of typos, but nothing glared at me that needed to be rewritten.

In fact, I quickly found myself immersed in the story of this woman minister as I walked with her into the world of expressive aphasia. I felt the intense struggle of Reverend G who wants more than anything else in the world to communicate God’s love to others, yet she has lost the ability to string common sense words together into intelligent sentences.

This is the world of many Alzheimer’s patients as they grow increasingly frustrated with their inability to communicate.

But for Reverend G, it seems worse. This was a woman who thrived on the ministry of words – the sermons she wrote and delivered, the counseling sessions where she asked open-ended questions and the love notes she left her son, Jacob, and later – the love of her life, Chris.

Fortunately, for me – the writer – I have written this series in the deep viewpoint so I can escape into the mind of Reverend G and know what she is thinking even if she cannot fully express it.

So I read her thoughts – my words – with awe and wonder, is it okay to really like my own writing? Is it helpful for a creative writer to enjoy the cadence of her own voice? Is it all right for a Christian writer to read a paragraph and then say, “Dang! That’s good!”

Maybe I like my words because I really do love this character, this Reverend G who wears leather pants and refuses to be stereotyped within the legalistic jargon of religion. Maybe I appreciate my words because I know how many hours I have put into this series and what it has meant to me when people read my books and compliment me.

And maybe – after over 40 years of freelancing – I’m finally settling on my real voice and becoming the writer God created me to be.

Whatever the reason, I’m liking this book and as much as I enjoyed Book One, I really think Book Two is even stronger and I believe Book Three will be the perfect ending for Reverend G’s story.

So I’ll include a couple of paragraphs here and let you be the judge. Do you like it, too? Are you looking forward to finding out more?

Oh God, my God, why did it have to be words? These were the tools of my profession, the way I communicated with my God, my people and my particular world. The sermons I wrote and then preached behind the special pulpit designed for me, the open-ended questions I devised for counseling sessions, the Bible verses I quoted so easily to bring hope and encouragement to my congregation.

“All these pieces of ministry included words which gave me effective ammunition to further the kingdom of God. Like an important piece of machinery tuned to the Gospel, I found my significance in words. In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Holy Word lived within my words.”

©2013 RJ Thesman – “The Unraveling of Reverend G” – http://amzn.to/11QATC1

Long Distance Caregiving – Observe the Changes

Because I am the Long Distance Caregiver in our family, I see Mom only on major holidays or when I manage a few days of extra vacation.

The hard part is that I rarely see my family and miss them all the time. Yet the positive aspect is that I easily observe the changes in our mother’s Alzheimer’s journey.hands heart

As Mom slips away with each visit, I notice her drawn face, added confusion and the fear that has always plagued her—now increasing. Because my siblings see Mom all the time, I am often more aware of the subtle changes.

I share these observations with my siblings so that we can make the important decisions that will help Mom through each stage.

The delicate balance is that I can’t just breeze into town, tell everybody what I’ve observed and expect them to listen to my incredible advice.

Just because I’m the oldest doesn’t mean I’m the smartest or the most discerning. It just means I’m the oldest. Darn it!

But even one of my relatives once told me, “I’ll be you can see the changes easier than we can.”

Yes, that’s true. During the Easter holiday, I noticed how withdrawn Mom had become. Was it because her hearing aid needed adjusting or had she lost more comprehension? Was she not able to understand conversation as easily as she did at Christmas? A few months makes a world of difference to an Alzheimer’s victim.

Mom and I share some of the some personality traits. We’re both choleric, Type A’s—those get- busy-and-get-it-done women who organize the world while telling everyone what to do and how to do it.

My life experiences and my training as a life coach and a Stephen minister have taught me to temper my choleric self, to listen carefully and help people see the solutions themselves.

So even though I might see the changes, I can’t march in and suggest a solution. No solution exists for Alzheimer’s. All we can do is persevere through each 36-hour day, hang on to our faith and pray for everyone involved.

Together, my siblings and I make an awesome team. My sister is smart, and my brother is wise. I add the fresh eyes to observe Mom’s changes.

As a family, we blend our love for Mom and our life experiences into the best caregiving unit we can possibly be.

Still, observing the changes in Mom also helps me see the changes in all of us as we age, deal with the stress and search every resource for the best way to make it through this journey.

May God help us that even as we observe the changes, we may also have the grace to accept them.

2013 RJ Thesman