Yesterday, I held my first book signing. My local library was kind enough to let me set up a table and meet with folks wanting to hear about the process of traditionally publishing The Choice.

I had some hesitation of doing an event like this. First, many libraries already warned of low turn-outs for author events and pushed back on the idea. Second, what would I talk about? I really didn’t want to read from my story as the basis of my event. I decided to talk about the publishing process itself and talk about my story as it fit with the conversation.

Summarizing the publishing process that I endured was easy as I’ve lived it for the last three years for my book. I have plenty of experience with PowerPoint through the work that I do in my career. I looked back at the timeline and added a diagram of the time it took from inception of idea to the release date of my story. I also had summary of queries from logs I kept so I could provide some counts and various statistics of responses I received.

Practicing my presentation a few times, I had it down pretty well. I didn’t want to spend too long talking as I wanted to sell some books too! I made sure to stop by the library and review where I’d be speaking beforehand so I’d be comfortable with my surroundings. I also took note of what supplies I’d need, such as a folding table. Ahead of my event, I had ordered a poster size version of my cover art from Vistaprint as well as some bookmarks. Finally, I made sure to bring one-dollar bills, change, and a card reader I could plug into my phone so I could accept credit cards. At the end of my talking, I added easily that I have books for sale if anyone has interest as well as a signup sheet for recording e-mail addresses. I was pretty confident I had all I needed; my main concern was the presentation itself and hoping I’d have an audience.

As it turned out, I had some help with wrangling people to come to my signing and I had a nice size audience. The library staff were extremely friendly and the topic of the publishing process was something they were happy to have someone speak about. My major issue turned out to be something I had not considered – isn’t that always the case? People wanted to write checks, and James Alexander is my pen-name. It wasn’t until after someone wrote me a check under my pen-name did I realize I’d have a hard time cashing it so I provided my real name! That will be something I’ll have solved for the next event.

A piece of advice I read about previously and turned out to be the best advice I heard was to make sure someone is available to help by accepting payments. There was a rush at the end of my event where people wanted to talk to me, and others wanted to purchase copies of my story. I had a friend who took over the collection of money and providing books so all I had to do was worry about talking with the audience and signing books.

Key items to bring to bring with you to a book signing:

  • A folding table (an extra table is always a good thing to have!)
  • Your books
  • Pens
  • Bookmarks
  • Candy to hand out or cookies – everyone loves treats!
  • A poster and other marketing items
  • Pamphlets
  • Book holders
  • A friend for helping

I hope this may help anyone thinking of holding a book signing for the first time. Mine turned to be a fun and engaging event that I’d repeat.

I haven’t posted in a long time, and it’s usually a sign when an author goes quiet for a while after completion of a book. I’ve been busy dealing with the slew of rejections many hear authors groan about. I can break my silence now and say that as of yesterday afternoon, THE CHOICE has a home with Double Dragon Publishing! I signed the contract and it’s in the mail, making its way to Canada as I write this.

The first step to publication as many know is to create a ‘perfected’ query. Writing a query is certainly an art. My query went through many stages of revisions, and I admit, I started querying too early. After many (many = MANY) rejections, I began to re-think my strategy and began to research publishers – a learning step for me as I submitted to some publishers that do not fit with my story. This isn’t a complete misstep for me since material was requested from me over a Twitter contest. I figured that if they wanted to see my story, why not?

I had very good success querying small to mid-size publishers. I even queried editors at major publishing houses to receive personalized messages back thanking me for reaching out. One publisher was not acquiring at the time and was focusing on television only, but liked the idea; another thought my writing was a little too dark for what the publisher’s needs were at the time, but she thought the idea was great. Contrary to what feedback many in the industry give, some editors still like to work with authors and want to see their work.

I had a couple requests for full manuscripts from various publishers. One publisher that requested my full manuscript switched gears, to focus solely on romance going forward. That stung for a bit, but if they didn’t want a great story, their loss! Plus, I had my sights on Double Dragon at that point and really wanted to submit to them. As soon as I was able, I submitted my fully edited work to Double Dragon, and just shy of six weeks later, received my acceptance.

At first I saw the header line in the e-mail and expected a ‘thanks but no thanks’. Instead, what I read made me nearly fall out of my chair.

‘Thank you for your submission, I would like to offer you a contract with Double Dragon Publishing…”

Wow! What a feeling, compared to trudging on through rejections. My story will be available in both electronic and paperback format in early 2018.

I’m in the process of making wine and it occurred to me, wine and writing have much in common! I’m not referring to drinking wine while writing – though that works well sometimes too. What I am referring to is the wine making process. Here’s why:

1)    Ingredients
Like all the ingredients that go into wine making, so do many pieces go into building a story. We all start with an idea, then another idea, then as the story is thought out, many ideas – all going into one masterpiece.

2)    Mix it all together
For wine, yeast is added. For writing, throw in some catalyst ideas to make things interesting. Mix it all up….juggle the ideas around….start writing!

3)    Take a reading
A tool is used for wine – a hydrometer. It measures sugar content to track how sugar is being converted to alcohol. What tools do we use as writers? There are many out there. Read what has been written and think about where the story is going. I like to write all my ideas and let the story guide me. Other writers may use outlines. This step is to evaluate the next steps in the story.

4)    Let it sit
The 1st draft of the story is complete. The wine is fermenting nicely – now time needs to take over to do the job.

5)    Racking
After a period of time, it’s time to rack the fermenting wine to another vessel. This removes the wine from the sediment of dropped yeast. A story needs to be revisited after it’s been setting for a month or so. New ideas will appear, errors will stand out. The story may seem like junk at this point. The wine doesn’t taste good either! Time to edit/revise!


With each stage, the wine gets clearer, brighter, and smoother…as does the story.

6)    Aging
After numerous rackings, the wine is clear and smells great! A story has been honed and errors have been corrected. Now it’s time to reach out to agents or get ready to self-publish. This takes time. The longer wine sits in bulk, the better it gets. Did the story land a publisher or ready to self-publish? Time for step 7! If not, what’s wrong with waiting a little longer to make things even better?

7)    Bottling
This is the last step to the process in wine making. The wine is ready for bottling and is siphoned to smaller bottles. Labels are glued to the bottle and the wine is ready for drinking (or bottle aging). The story is with an agent or has been self-published. Now everyone can enjoy what has been created! (or hate it – we all have different tastes).