As anyone who's been listening to me for more than ten seconds probably knows I had a book signing last Saturday at Agora Downtown Coffee Shop in Fredericksburg, VA. The signing went incredibly well, and I hope we were able to draw some new customers to this lovely shop.
As my first solo book signing it was a big day for me, and my support network turned out in spades. My family stopped by including my parents, my brother and sister-in-law, and even my cousin Blake who drove up from Richmond. Also, from Richmond, fellow writer and friend Mary Chris Escobar came out. Eric of course stayed with me the whole time chatting with folks and telling the story of how he discovered his wife could actually write. He also took some pictures and provided the muscle, toting the heavy box of books from the car and the considerably lighter box of books back.
A large part of the success of this signing is due to the efforts of some of the best readers an author could ask for. I'm talking about my fellow members of Virginia Outlander Fans and Outlandish National Capitol Area, which sound like a run of the mill fan groups, but are actually so much more.They're fantastic groups of incredibly supportive and diverse ladies who just happen to like the same books. This is actually true of many Outlander fan groups, especially those that started around the books. We raise money for charities, support each others professional efforts and even help each other when tragedy strikes.
The community that has sprung up around the Outlander books and show is one that Diana Gabaldon should be particularly proud of. Considering the nature of her books, the generosity and mutual support of these groups shouldn't exactly be surprising. Part of the beauty of these books is that they address the full spectrum of humanity with unflinching understanding and kindness. Even the villains get humanized eventually. These books teach us so much, but key among them is the sense of community.
Lucky for me, I happen to write books about subjects that are similar to those books that my friends like, namely strong, smart women and big, sensitive guys who occasionally wear kilts. It's no wonder that most of my readers are Outlander fans too. So, when I announced my book signing, admins Jenny Christensen and Ashley Gentry-Fendt in my local groups put the word out, and group members showed up some from as far away as Virginia Beach. Jenny even worked with Karen, @DougalsBeard, to plan lunch afterward at J. Brian's Taproom.
If you've ever seen a book signing by a local author with a small circulation, you've probably seen a lonely person sitting at a table trying not to look awkwardly hopeful at every person who passes by. They spend hours waiting for one person, just one, to show even a mild interest in whatever book they are selling. My pals made sure that I wasn't that person. They filled an entire room at Agora. At one point, Emjay, one of the owners of the shop said, "You have to tell me how you build your fan base. This is terrific."
I said, "Make friends with people who love the same books that you do. Then write a book that you would love to read. Odds are, they'll love it too."
I'm deeply grateful to the Outlander "fanmily" and to Diana Gabaldon for writing books that have brought so many of us together.