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What Seventeen Years of Book Signings Have Taught Me


I’ve been doing book signings for about seventeen years, starting shortly after my first thriller, Category 5, was published. That was back when we had two dominant bookstores: Borders, and Barnes and Noble. Borders provided me dozens of signing opportunities. After Borders withdrew from the scene, Barnes and Noble picked up the slack; they have been as good to me as Borders ever was.

My book signing skills have improved over the years, and I have learned important lessons. I would like to share with you what I have learned.

Number 1: To sell a lot of books, you need to meet a lot of people.

The beauty of Barnes and Noble stores is that a lot of folks come in. This is important. Why? From my experience, I’d say that, roughly, only 5-10% of shoppers entering the store are a) interested in buying my particular genres of book, and b) in a mood to buy. In my case, I am hawking two separate genres: I have a trilogy of thrillers (Category 5, Prophecy, and White Thaw: The Helheim Conspiracy) and a sequel (Retribution Times Two). I also have one historical novel, How Much Do You Love Me? Unless you’re a famous author, you can’t have a two-hour signing and expect to sell many books. So what do I do? I cheat. I stay all day.

Now, here is an important point that didn’t take me long to learn. Do not presuppose that someone approaching your table fits a particular stereotype who you’ve concluded will have no interest in (or money to buy) your book. A relevant story makes my point. Early in my book-signing career, I had a nighttime signing on a cold, rainy winter night. How cold and rainy was it?..I digress. Through the front door came a lady, dischevled, dripping with water and, as best I can recall, wearing either no shoes or bad shoes. I’m ashamed to admit that I thought she was homeless. Still, trying to being respectful, I addressed her, and we talked. Well, guess what? She ended buying something like five or six books–a record for me at the time. Of the lessons I’ve learned in my lifetime, that one resides in the top ten.

Number 2: Ask the store to announce your book signing as often as possible over the intercom.

Some customers don’t see me when they come in and need to be reminded that I’m there. To make it easy for the store, I provide a written example of what the announcer might say. Here’s one: “We have with us today author Paul Mark Tag, who is signing copies of his historical novel, How Much Do You Love Me?, a mystery and love story that revolves around the forced internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. Paul is also signing copies of his brand new thriller, Retribution Times Two. Please drop by the front of the store and say hello to Paul.”

Number 3: Bring your own advertising.

Often, the store will put up signs anticipating your signing. In case they don’t, bring in a large poster board that advertises your presence. On that board is a picture and description of the primary book I’m selling. I’m usually allowed to put it somewhere by the entry door. Bring your own easel. I have a neat one that folds up small.

Number 4: Advertise ahead of time.

Unless you’re famous, just go for the simple and obvious. First, I make sure that my Amazon author’s page has a listing of upcoming signings. My website,, has a similar listing on my Media Room page. And, importantly, a day or so ahead of the signing, I make an official announcement of the upcoming signing on my Facebook page: Use whatever social media tools you have available.

Number 5: Be personable and enthusiastic when talking to customers.

Other than Number 1 above, Number 5 is probably the most important of all. Unless you are excited about your book, you can’t expect customers to be. Start out by telling them about yourself and where you’re from. In the case of my thrillers, I then convince them that they’re going to have a doggone good time following the exploits of my hero and heroine.

For my historical fiction novel, I say that my book, in addition to reminding us all about the World War II travesty that was the Japanese internment, is a page-turning mystery and a touching love story. As your customer turns to leave, thank him or her sincerely for buying your book. It is the rare exception when buyers of my books don’t walk away reciprocating in kind, thanking me for our discussion and for signing their personal copy.

Number 6: Odds and ends, in no particular order:

6a: Have a pair of reading glasses handy for the customer who wants to read the back of your book but has forgotten theirs.

6b: Take your own pillow or seat cushion; often, you end up with a hard bottom chair.

6c: Have reviews of your books handy in case someone needs additional persuasion.

6d: Unless you’re on the witness protection list, if asked, always agree to have a photo taken, but preferably alongside the customer. Immediately, ask him or her to e-mail you the picture right then, ask for permission to share the photo on Facebook or other social media, and then do it. The photo you see at the top of this blog was taken at the Almaden Plaza Barnes and Noble in San Jose.

6e: In conjunction with Number 5 above, ask customers if they will share their name and e-mail address (I keep a clipboard on the table just for that purpose). I’d say that somewhere around 95% agree. Next to their name annotate which book they bought. Then, after you get home, send them a personalized e-mail thanking them for buying your book; I ask them, if they like my book, to please consider writing a short review on either the Barnes and Noble or Amazon websites. Before they leave the store, also ask them if you have permission to use their e-mail address for your occasional newsletter; annotate the list accordingly. This catalogue of happy (hopefully) buyers will prove invaluable when you go to advertise your next book.

6f: Get to know store employees, by name if possible; they are your allies and will drive customers your way.

6g: If your book has received any kind of award, don’t fail to mention it. If you have related stickers, have at least one on display.

6h: If you have to leave your station, leave a preprinted sign that says when you will be back. I have two: one saying 5 minutes and one 20 minutes. You don’t want to lose a customer because they think you’ve gone home.

6i Thank the staff before you leave the store. And the next day, always send a thank-you e-mail to the store manager. Although he or she already knows the book tallies, I include an itemization of books signed.

6j: And last but not least, have something on your signing table that might attract customers. For example, I have recently added a bowl of good chocolates.

That’s pretty much it. The tips that I’ve learned over the years have helped me be a better representative for my books and for the store. Please write if you have questions, and feel free to share this blog.



  • Ed says:

    Paul, You give your patrons the royal treatment. I especially like the way you follow up after the sale. The little things you do would pull me to chat and buy. Good job!!!

  • Martinded says:

    Минобороны России: число иностранных наёмников на Украине снизилось до 3,5 тысячи
    Представитель Кремля Песков: применение оружия против России усугубит ситуацию на Украине
    Песков заявил, что Россия не будет торговать нефтью себе в убыток
    Росгвардеец погиб в Донбассе в бою с сыном британского парламентария Беном Грантом

  • CarlosNal says:

    Президент Украины Владимир Зеленский заявил о возникновении потенциала для “переломного момента” в конфликте на Украине.
    ТВ Центр
    В ходе выступления лидер Украины заявил, что РФ взяла под свой контроль около 20% территорий.
    Общественная служба новостей
    Тем временем член Общественного совета при Минобороны России полковник запаса Игорь Коротченко рассказал о том, что Вооружённые силы России в скором времени перейдут к третьему этапу спецоперации.

  • says:

    Welcome to the world of adult Dating

  • JulioNor says:

    На посольство США в Москве ночью спроецировали видео с погибшими в Донбассе детьми
    Активисты спроецировали видео на здание посольства США в Москве, в котором были показаны дети, погибшие в Донбассе в результате действий украинских военных.
    RT на русском
    По словам организаторов, акция была приурочена к Международному дню защиты детей.
    Российская газета

  • BrooksPoozy says:

    Сообщается, что росгвардеец погиб 26 мая, спасая своих сослуживцев в ходе исполнения боевой задачи.
    При очередном попадании в БТР сержант получил ранения, несовместимые с жизнью.
    РИА Новости
    Видеоматериалы, подтверждающие преступления иностранных наемников, передали в военно-следственное управление СК по Западному военному округу.
    РИА Новости

  • Sharon Toston says:

    I bought “How much do
    You love me” 12/17/22 and finished it a few days later. I didn’t really know what Historical Fiction was until it was explained to me by the Author. I finished the book in about a week and thoroughly every chapter. As I write this review it is 1/17/23 and I am almost done with my 2nd reading (I enjoy reading and am so much more engaged in the story when I know what happens next) . I have enjoyed my 2nd reading as much as I did the 1st. This book is not only a page turner but a must read for anyone interested in this regrettable part of U.S. history.


Ode to the Coronavirus, Part 2

Into year two, the coronavirus continues its uninvited debut.
We’d thought this ballyhoo would long since be through.
Glasses held high, we’d toast good riddance to this bugaboo.
A vaccine would be our savior; we’d celebrate our derring-do.

But as summer rolled into fall of ‘21—my how the time flew!
adolescent deaths began to accrue; there’d been a switcheroo!
But wait! Why is this so? Did we misconstrue what we knew?
Did Dr. Fauci not argue that the COVID flu would soon shoo?

Here is what happened, from my personal point of view, for you.
Reasons were two: one from science grew, another just shy of voodoo.
So true: A genetic variation of COVID had been playing peekaboo.
More virulent than its nephew, and on cue, this new flu wanted its due.

Soon, variant “D” began its coup, society askew, hospitals in need of rescue.
Dr. Fauci preached calm: D would meet its Waterloo and rue its debut.
Three vaccines arrived thereto, their makers touting their breakthrough:
Pfizer, Moderna, and J&J too, had a rendezvous; variant D they’d subdue.

The devil’s in the brew, and so it’s true; a rogue view came into the slew.
It’s true—I kid not you—some came to eschew the miracle creation so new.
They’d refuse their injections long overdue, no matter the positive review.
“Why do you argue, why do you pooh pooh?” asked journalists anew.

Reasons—often absurd and nearly all untrue—filled their misguided spew.
The unvaccinated naysayers held to their view, no matter their miscue.
“If I want to risk my life, what’s it to you? Isn’t that my choice? Screw You!”
Recognizing the deja vu of a contagious, deadly flu, to them seemed taboo.

So what do we do? Does the greater good not outweigh our personal view?
A solution is beyond this purview, but perhaps religion can offer a preview.
Might those in charge of the hereafter offer a clue to those in the queue?
“What do you think Jesus, Mohammed, or the Buddha would do?” Et tu?




1 Comment


Memories of—and Lessons Learned from—my Mother, Ottilie Tag

My mother, Ottilie Tag, known to her friends as Tillie, died of natural causes not related to COVID this past Monday, the 28th of December 2020. She had turned 97 the previous day.

I’d like to tell you first about the family Mom came from. By knowing her upbringing, you’ll know more about Tillie, the person.

My mother came from a generation that grew up during the 1930’s and 1940’s. She was one of six children. In 1913, Grandma and Grandpa Kern (her parents) had immigrated to Pennsylvania from what was then Russia—although they considered themselves German. They had three boys and three girls: my Uncles August, Gus, and Julius, and Aunts Susie and Hilda. Mom was the last to go—Aunt Hilda died just a few weeks earlier, on December 7th. Uncle Gus had been killed fighting in North Africa during World War II.

Mom and her family grew up on a farm during the Depression, leading up to World War II. Tom Brokaw referred to that generation in the title of his book, The Greatest Generation. By today’s standards, and perhaps even then, Mom’s family was poor. The advantage of living on a farm was that they always had something to eat. Working on the farm was demanding, daily work. And, as Mom told it, once the boys left for World War II, she and her mother inherited all of their farm responsibilities. At Mom’s seventieth birthday, my brother Keven said that what he admired most was her strong work ethic. I have no doubt that came from her years on the farm.

So, what, specifically, did I learn from Mom? Many things, of course, but I’d like to tell you about three that have indeed shaped my life to this day.

The first thing I learned—I was probably four or five years old—was that I must always make my bed in the morning. I was a little kid and didn’t know much, but I got the impression from my mother that if I learned nothing else in this lifetime, I would always know to make my bed. And so I do. Becky can attest to the fact that I occasionally do this even in hotels.

A few years later, the second thing I learned was that you had to eat everything on your plate, that it was a sin to leave anything behind. As if I didn’t have enough to worry about, making my bed every morning, I now had to worry about leaving a clean plate. I was a serious kid anyway, but now I was becoming a nervous wreck.

What bothered me most was the sin part. And I knew about sin. Why? Because I attended our Lutheran church every Sunday and knew to avoid sinning at all costs. Previously, I had had no idea what sin was, but then I knew: leaving as much as a kernel of corn on your plate at supper time.

I was a few years older—maybe seven or eight—when Mom taught me my third lesson. I remember the situation to this day. Mom and Grandma were downstairs making pancakes for breakfast, and the pancakes smelled good. Somehow I had come across a bad word, a swear word, and I came up with the brilliant idea of incorporating this word into my exclamation about how good the pancakes smelled. I’ve since forgotten what that bad word was. So, I did. I made my statement.

Have you ever seen a movie where the video transitions to slow motion? In the seconds that followed, that’s what I experienced. Grandma and Mom turned slowly in my direction, alarm evident in their eyes. I’m thinking that maybe the house had caught fire. In that slow motion experience, I half expected them to say, “Paul, run for your life. Save yourself.” Instead, the two of them came down on me like a ton of bricks. In no uncertain terms, they said that I was never to say a bad word like that again.

Over the years that followed, I learned more lessons from Mom. Lest you think that all of her advice was sound, I can tell you that it was not always. It was about 1952 or 1953 when Mom bought a brand new Chevy, and it was black. I asked Mom why she had picked black. She told me that she had picked black because it would not show dirt. Mom was a quick study, though; when she bought her next car, a ’55 Chevy, this one was yellow and white, two-toned.

Until I left home to go to college, I have to say that the most important lesson I learned from Mom and her siblings was that of thrift—not to waste anything. I’m sure that precept originated from their experiences during the Depression. But, to this day, I appreciate the three simple lessons I learned from Mom early in my life: 1) to make my bed in the morning, 2) to eat everything on my plate, and 3) not to use bad words.

In summary, I will miss Mom. But although I could choose to be sad now, instead I’m taking a different point of view.

Imagine this: A woman born on a farm that had no telephone, no indoor toilet or other modern conveniences, and used horses to plow—and who died in the age of the iPhone, the Internet, space travel, and cars that drive themselves. Mom witnessed it all! And all the while, experiencing life’s joys and happenings that make us what we are as human beings.

Imagine that!



  • Edward Barker says:

    I love this story on the lessons your mom taught you. It is told with humor and sincerity. No doubt, your mom was a very special lady.

  • Mary Conrad says:

    So sorry to read of the loss of your blessed Mother. Wish I had the pleasure of her acquaintance. I think we would have been “BFFs”! She reminds me of my own parents both passed many years ago–but the same ethical upbringing! P.S. I too, tried a “bad” word–and my Mom washed my mouth out with LAVA soap!

  • CarlosNal says:

    Президент Украины Владимир Зеленский заявил о возникновении потенциала для “переломного момента” в конфликте на Украине.
    ТВ Центр
    В ходе выступления лидер Украины заявил, что РФ взяла под свой контроль около 20% территорий.
    Общественная служба новостей
    Тем временем член Общественного совета при Минобороны России полковник запаса Игорь Коротченко рассказал о том, что Вооружённые силы России в скором времени перейдут к третьему этапу спецоперации.

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  • Jessiejumma says:

    Esperio Review – Some Facts About This Offshore Fraud
    Forex and CFD trading is a very specific industry. It can be very risky, therefore we are always looking for reliable and trusted companies. If you were hoping that Esperio broker is the one, you were wrong.

    A company that doesn’t have a license and has a fake virtual address is not the one we should trust. They are based officially in St.Vincent and Grenadines, but in reality, it is most probably different. Since on the same address, we managed to find many different scamming companies. Let’s take a look at this Esperio review for more info.

    Furthermore, we highly recommend that you avoid the scam brokers Vital Markets, Sky Gold Market, and DamkoNet.

    Broker status: Unregulated Broker
    Regulated by: Unlicensed Scam Brokerage
    Scammers Websites:
    Blacklisted as a Scam by: NSSMC
    Owned by: OFG Gap. LTD
    Headquarters Country: St. Vincent and Grenadines
    Foundation year: 2021
    Supported Platforms: MT4/MT5
    Minimum Deposit: 1$
    Cryptocurrencies: Yes – BTC, ETH, XRP
    Types of Assets: Forex, Commodities, Indices, Shares, Cryptocurrencies
    Maximum Leverage: 1:1000
    Free Demo Account: No
    Accepts US clients: No
    report a scam.
    Esperio Is a Non – Licensed Fraud Broker?
    Financial Services Authority from St. Vincent and Grenadines already stated that they are unauthorized to provide licenses for Forex and CFD trading. Therefore, that country doesn’t have legal supervision.

    If you take a look at the countries that Esperio is operating in, you will see that they don’t have any other licensing.

    Since they are scamming traders from Italy, the UK, Germany, Poland, and more, you would expect them to have FCA or BaFin regulations. As you could guess, they don’t.

    High leverages, bonuses and cryptocurrencies. Everything that is not regulated is available with Esperio broker. That being said, you don’t want to deal with something when you don’t know the terms.

    Arguments For Trading With a Licensed Broker
    Since we checked the database of Tier 1 regulators ( FCA, BaFin and ASIC ) and found nothing, we can confirm that this is a complete scam. These Tier 1 regulators are offering stability and security to clients.

    You know that your funds are at any point in time protected and that nobody can scam you. Any terms and conditions are strictly controlled by the regulator.

    Warnings From Financial Regulators
    Esperio Warnings From Financial Regulators
    Ukrainian regulatory body NSSMC has issued a warning against Esperio broker. That happened in August 2022. It’s just a matter of time before other countries will add their warnings against this broker.

    That’s a time when these brokers vanish and just do a rebranding with the same principle. Be careful.

    Does Esperio Offer MetaTrader 5?
    Besides MT4, an industry standard, they offer as well MT5 trading platform. It has higher functionality and a variety of trading tools available. Starting from social trading, advanced EA trading tools and indicators and many more.

    This is the only thing we could give credit for to the company in this Esperio review.

    What Financial Instruments Does Esperio Include?
    Financial classes like in many other companies are available. So, if you go with a regulated company, you are not missing anything. Those classes are:

    Indices DAX30, FTSE100, BE20
    Commodities crude oil, platinum, gold
    Shares BMW, Tesla, Visa
    Cryptocurrencies ETH, BTC, BNB
    Like with any CFD trading company, especially non-regulated, you should be extremely careful. Leverages are mostly higher than allowed in regulated companies.

    Areas Of Esperio
    The list of countries they are reaching out to is quite big. Yet, there are most probably many more unconfirmed. Countries, they are scamming traders from, are:

    Even Esperio reviews are saying the same thing. People over and over losing money with them and not being able to withdraw their profits.

    Esperio And The Types Of Accounts Offered
    The company offers 4 different account types:

    Esperio Standard
    Esperio Cent
    Esperio Invest
    Esperio MT4 ECN
    For any account mentioned above you get certain benefits. Spreads, commissions, overnight swaps and bonuses are the fields they are changing to lure you into their net. As for the minimum requirement, for any account, it is 1$.

    You already know that nothing is for free. So, when you invest your first dollar, expect to be asked for more.

    Esperio Offers Free Demo Accounts?
    The company doesn’t offer a demo account. However, it is not needed since the minimum investment is only 1$. But, if you want to keep your information private, a demo account sounds like a good option here.

    Nobody wants to disclose personal information and banking information to a fraudulent company.

    Esperio Deposit and Withdrawal Policies
    As a payment option, Esperio offers Visa/Mastercards, bank transfers and cryptocurrency transfers. Some of the systems are charging a commission as well. Detailed conditions are only available if you register.

    Withdrawing the funds is going to be trouble. We checked other Esperio reviews and we found that people were unable to get any of the funds back. Most of the time the broker is asking you to pay some additional fees before funds are released.

    Of course, if you fall for that story, they know they extracted everything from you. And you never hear back again from them.

    Esperio Terms and Conditions
    If the company is offering leverages up to 1:1000 you know they can’t have regulations. The reason for that is that regulatory bodies don’t allow it higher than 1:30.

    Another speculative thing about this broker are bonuses that they are offering. This is as well not allowed according to regulations. To sum it up, any of your funds won’t be safe here no matter what advertisement they put out.

    Esperio Broker Scammed You? – Please Tell Us Your Story
    We like to hear our clients’ stories. That way, we can find out if the broker has implemented something new in their tactics. As well, as that way you can protect other people from being scammed.

    In the case that it was you, don’t be ashamed. It can happen to anyone. Yet there is a solution. A chargeback works like a charm. Don’t waste any more time and reach our experts for the first step!

    What Is the Chargeback Procedure?
    This is a money reversal procedure. Your bank knows where the money is going. If you request it at the right time, you can get your funds back. Get in touch today to see how!

    What Is Esperio?
    Esperio broker is a non-licensed offshore company. They operate from St. Vincent and Grenadines, allegedly.

    Is Esperio a scam Broker?
    If the regulatory body of some country is issuing a warning, then you can say it for sure.

    Is Esperio Available in the United States or the UK?
    This broker only offers services to clients coming from the UK, but not US.

    Does Esperio Offer a Demo Account?
    Unfortunately, they don’t offer a demo account, just live accounts with a minimum deposit of 1$.

    Get your money back from a scam

    If you?ve been ripped off by scammers, get in touch and our team of experts will work to get your money back


The Harsh Reality of Snagging a Literary Agent in the Year 2020

  I am writing this blog to summarize my recent experience trying to find a literary agent to market my latest thriller, Retribution Times Two. To provide perspective, I offer some background. After a career as a research scientist for the Navy, I changed professions, pursuing my dream of writing fiction. Initially, I spent five years… View Article

Stories From My Life, #14: How the pop star Tony Orlando played a part in snagging my wife, Becky

  I met Becky in early 1983. I was thirty-seven years old at the time, and my parents were convinced that I would never marry. As the months passed, I realized that my chances of ever again finding another female as beautiful and smart as she were tiny indeed. Add to that the fact that… View Article

Stories from My Life, #13: A Tribute to my Stepbrother, Bud Lancaster

We remember things differently, you and I. What stands out to one person from the distant past means nothing to another. This is often true for siblings. And so it happens that one will say to the other, “Don’t you remember when Dad did this or Dad did that?” “No,” the other says. “But surely… View Article

Ode to the Coronavirus, Part 1

    They call it coronavirus, a genetic aberration, a mutation damnation, an intimidation plaguing the world’s civilization. How long will this devastation affect each nation, halting transportation, mandating segregation and stay-at-home habitation?   It came from the East, its birthplace origination, a gestation foundation seeking personal validation and world domination. It spread in every direction,… View Article

Stories from My Life, #12: My Uncle Gus, Killed in North Africa in 1943

Every year when Veteran’s Day rolls around, I think of my Uncle Gus Kern, who died in World War II. Over the years, the details that I heard were minimal: that he was killed in Tunisia, in North Africa, somehow involving military tanks. Also, that he was awarded a Silver Star medal for bravery. On… View Article

Rebecca’s High School Reunion: Reflections from a Spouse

My wife—AKA Becky—went to her high school reunion: rah-rah! to which she invited me, avoiding hints of complicity. (ha ha) To Kansas City on Southwest Airlines, via Las Vegas on the way, we eventually arrived in Emporia, Kansas, all on the same day. I learned that Becky’s school was not of the ordinary, but a… View Article

Class of ’63 High School Reunion

I attended my high school reunion, it happened last week: we’d graduated fifty-five years earlier, an amazing streak. It was good to see friends from a lifetime long past, when times were much simpler, and life wasn’t so fast. I saw friends, I saw girls whom I’d loved from afar, I saw those who’d been… View Article