Thursday, July 16, 2009

Rescued by the Kinfolk

By Deborah Sharp

I'm offering a shout-out to my Chicago cousins today. It's not just
that I'm feeling guilty about all those winters they visited us in
Florida, when I laughed at their pale, Northern legs and begrudged
them the fresh squeezed orange juice and my mama's Key lime pie that,
rightfully, I believed, should have been reserved for my little
brother and me.

Nope, I owe them props for tossing me a cousinly life-preserver in the
stormy book-signing sea.

A whole slew of cousins -- firsts, seconds, thirds, even
cousins-in-law -- showed up to support me at the Borders bookstore in
LaGrange, Illinois, this week. I managed to draw a nice crowd in a
spot where I know no one, where I didn't even know LaGrange was one
word with a capital L and a capital G until I saw it on the ''Welcome
To . . .'' sign on the way into town.

And yet, there we were, taking over the place. The Sharps and Markles
and Cochranes and assorted offspring and significant others and
nearly-cousins that make up this patchwork North-South clan I call my
family. All is forgiven -- the times I gave up my bed, the emergency
room visits with third-degree burns in the middle of the night because
SOMEONE thought they knew more than the natives about the intensity
of Florida's sun, the incessant Yankee carping about Florida's creepy crawlies.

Forgiven, forgiven, and forgiven. There is no one more lonely than an author standing alone in a big bookstore. Without the cousins, their neighbors, and my friend and fellow writer, Chicagoan Julia Buckley, that solitary figure would have been me. I promised the good folks at the LaGrange Borders that I could draw a crowd. Book-sellers don't like to schedule signings unless they think they can sell some books. They're funny that way.

And because of the cousins, I made good on my promise. So bring on the third generation of Chicago kinfolk fleeing the cold this winter. I'll even squeeze the orange juice and make the Key lime pie. It's the least I can do.

So, how about you? Do you tap your family to buy your books? Or do you think that's tacky? Hey, they can always say No, right? Lucky for me, and for the sales figures on my second book, MAMA RIDES SHOTGUN, all my fantastic Chicago cousins said Yes.


Alan Orloff said...

Congrats on a great event, Deb! MAMA RIDES SHOTGUN sounds like a winner.

And if I'm ever in Chicago, do you mind if I adopt your extended family? At least on book-signing day?

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I think that was so sweet of them to show support like that! Book signings can be lonely events and yours was a party!

Mystery Writing is Murder

Lisa Bork said...

My family keeps asking me where my book signings will be. I'm going to need to give them an answer one of these days. Hopefully as many of them will show up as promised:)

Terri Thayer said...

I got plenty of cousins, too, Deb and it's a great thing. My are kind of spread out so I count on them to get the word out in their neighborhood.

In fact there's an aunt in Florida touting my books. Come to think of it, she might enjoy a Mama book.

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Fun post, Deborah. I'm with Alan - I want to borrow your family. I have a very small family. I have a slew of cousins, but don't keep in touch and I'm not even sure many know I write. But my niece is shamless about promoting me on her various online networks. GO, LINDSAY!

Anonymous said...

My family is awesome at promoting my books. They live in Michigan and Arizona and I live in California, so here are areas where they can spread the good word, submit review articles to newspapers, and pester book store employees as to why my book isn't carried in their store.

Stephen Tremp

Keith Raffel said...

When I was at the late High Crimes Books in Boulder, the crowd was moderate. (I only have 2 first cousins and neither lives in Colorado.) The proprietor told me that when Joe Konrath was there, he went out into the street and pulled in pedestrians. I figured if Joe could do it, I could. One of the folks I recruited even sent me an email thank you.

Rachel Elliott said...

Speaking from the vantage point of one of the "cousins", I can honestly say that it was our pleasure to come out to LaGrange to see you. Although we are a loyal bunch, our main reason for coming out was genuine interest, respect for and pride in YOU! So, be sure to remember us when you are launching MAMA GETS HITCHED! Oh, and just for the record, I never voted for Blagojevich!!

Deborah Sharp said...

Hi, guys and gals ... thanks for all the great comments. Just as I suspected, I AM lucky to have the support of my cousins (thanks for the howdy from Chicago, Rachel! .. and it's true: she didn't vote for Illinois's hirsute ex-governor)