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Journalism of Courage

Stephen King, Margaret Atwood and others share their stories after only two people turn up at a debut author’s book signing

"Only 2 people came to my author signing yesterday, so I was pretty bummed about it," Chelsea Banning tweeted

authorsStephen King, Margaret Atwood and Neil Gaiman (Reuters and AP)
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Publishing one’s first book is the most remarkable and memorable moment in any author‘s life as it is the fruit of months and years of sheer hard work and dedication. It is usually followed by a formal book signing where the author personally interacts with the readers and signs autographs on their copies of the newly-launched book. Chelsea Banning, a librarian, anticipated something similar as she excitedly looked forward to launching her first novel, Of Crowns and Legends, at a book signing.

However, it soon turned into disappointment when she found only two attendees at the event. Taking to Twitter, Banning wrote, “Only 2 people came to my author signing yesterday, so I was pretty bummed about it. Especially as 37 people responded ‘going’ to the event. Kind of upset, honestly, and a little embarrassed.”

However, she soon realised that she isn’t the first author to face this predicament as several bestselling authors comforted Banning by sharing similar stories of disappointment in her comment section.

“At my first SALEM’S LOT signing, I had one customer. A fat kid who said, “Hey bud, do you know where there’s some Nazi books?” shared Stephen King, with reference to his second published novel.

Canadian poet and novelist Margaret Atwood shared that at one of her book signing events, nobody turned up. “Join the club. I did a signing to which nobody came, except a guy who wanted to buy some Scotch tape and thought I was the help,” she wrote.

Calling publishing “a vulnerable process”, Beth Moore tweeted, “Chelsea, during my last trade book tour (early 2020) maybe 4 people showed up for one of the locations. It is embarrassing but it surely does happen. Publishing is such a vulnerable process. It’s a rare author who has not experienced a signing no-show. Keep getting out there!”

Min Jin Lee, too, recounted her unforgettable book signing experience. “I did a book reading where only my husband’s cousin showed up. One person. I’ll never forget that reading.”

Gareth L Powell shared that at one of his book signing events, only one person showed up. “He didn’t buy a book; he just wanted to tell someone that he’d had a dream about being a wizard,” he added.

Cheering Banning, Neil Gaiman replied to her tweet by saying, “Terry Pratchett and I did a signing in Manhattan for Good Omens that nobody came to at all. So you are two up on us.”

Following the flood of empathetic and encouraging comments from these well-known authors, Banning was, as expected, overwhelmed. “I am overwhelmed by all the love and encouragement from these replies! I thought I’d just vent into the void but heck ya’ll! You’re wonderful,” she wrote.

According to the author, Of Crowns and Legends is an adult fantasy novel which is now receiving unprecedented attention from readers across the world.

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First published on: 08-12-2022 at 17:36 IST
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