Daddy's Christmas Angel

Monday, November 25, 2013

Writers Learn from Readers at Book Signings

Key West Sailboat - ©Mary Montague Sikes
As I reflect on a recent book signing, I realize writers can always learn at least one new thing as they talk with readers. I like to promote the exotic destinations that many of my novels feature.

"Do you like to travel in the Caribbean?" I ask, hopeful I'll learn that he or she has been to one of the islands my books feature and loved the trip.

"No. I've never been to the Caribbean."

"I haven't been to Antigua."

"I don't want to go to Jamaica."

"Where is Trinidad?"

These are the answers I often get. My publisher created the "Passenger to Paradise" series for my books, so those responses disappoint me. I wrote Secrets by the Sea  because a museum director on the island of Antigua intrigued me with his stories about the rich history of this tropical paradise. I hope to find readers who relate to the island's history or to the fact it was settled by the British. I want to find people who have gone to Jamaica and appreciate a fantasy story related to the legend of the white witch of Rose Hall (Hearts Across Forever). I want to discover those who have visited Mexico or Central America and have studied the Maya ruins because of those visits (Jungle Jeopardy).

Perhaps I am approaching potential readers the wrong way. Should I ask, "Are you an armchair traveler who fantasizes about visiting the tropics?"

With the unusual cold weather we have now in Virginia, a warm destination like Key West, Florida sounds perfect. I could curl up with a book set in a nice tropical place where warm breezes blow and sweet floral scents fill the air.

As a writer, what do you do for a positive response from readers? How do you you draw them into your settings? Do you learn from readers at your book signings?


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Asking if they would like to visit an exotic location might be a good approach, especially now that it's colder.
Be glad you don't have to ask if they'd like to venture into outer space!

Mary Montague Sikes said...

Exciting someone is planning an expedition to Mars! Outer space might be a more fun question, Alex!

Julie Flanders said...

I'm going to be doing my first book signing next week and I hadn't really thought about asking questions. I will probably end up totally tongue-tied LOL.

I like your armchair traveler question, I always feel like that when I read your travel posts.

Mary Montague Sikes said...

Julie, good luck with your book signing. They are hard for me. Questions help me draw people in which on occasion is not a good thing.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Monti - I think people want to visit other places, but I've found if people haven't lived abroad they have 'no idea' of life beyond their own shores or locality in many cases.

To bring out the next question from someone - can be hardwork .. those closed off answers always seem strange to me ...

I guess adding to the mix - have you travelled, if not where would you like to go .. and why .. would you eat the food, do you like museums, seeing round art galleries .. talking to people sometimes can be really challenging - especially if there's not 'much life' in the responses - sometimes I wonder which planet I'm on!!

Cheers to you and good luck with your ideas .. Hilary

Mary Montague Sikes said...

Hilary, thanks for visiting. I love to travel and long to journey to new places. The food can be a challenge, but I love visiting museums--especially art!