Literary world rallies around debut author after tweet about disappointing book signing
Writing may be a solitary activity, but the response to one author’s tweet this week has shown that the sense of community among writers is huge.
On Sunday, debut author Chelsea Banning penned a tweet about her disappointment that a signing event for her fantasy novel, Of Crowns and Legends, had been poorly attended.
“Only 2 people came to my author signing yesterday, so I was pretty bummed about it,” she wrote. “Especially as 37 people responded ‘going’ to the event. Kind of upset, honestly, and a little embarrassed.”
But her tweet received the opposite of a small turnout: the post blew up in literary circles online, with numerous prominent authors responding or retweeting with stories about their own similar experiences.
Margaret Atwood tweeted, “Join the club,” in response to Banning, revealing that at one of her signings, no one came, “except a guy who wanted to buy some Scotch tape and thought I was the help.”
Neil Gaiman replied that Banning had a better turnout than he and Terry Pratchett did at a signing in Manhattan for their book Good Omens that apparently nobody attended.
“So you are two up on us,” he wrote. Good Omens has since had its own TV adaptation.
Novelist Stephen King, whose books have inspired numerous movie adaptations, joined the thread to add that he had one customer at the first signing for Salem’s Lot.
Jodi Picoult, who has written around 30 books, said that she has been sitting alone at a signing “many times,” with her only visitors being those wondering where the bathroom is.
Canadian singer-songwriter Jann Arden tweeted that her first book signing was at a Costco, “between the sausage samples and the men’s sweatpants,” adding that the first person who had approached her asked who she was.
Waubgeshig Rice, author of Moon of the Crusted Snow, chimed in Tuesday to share that he and Cherie Dimaline – Governor General award-winner for The Marrow Thieves – held a book talk years ago that drew zero audience members.
“No one showed up, until a woman walking by stopped into the room looking for a place to feed her baby,” he wrote. “She felt bad for us and stayed!”
Banning’s original tweet has over 2,400 replies and more than 68,000 likes as of Tuesday evening. It has sparked numerous news articles and blog posts, and has touched hearts across the entertainment spectrum, from actor Henry Winkler to rapper Flavor Flav.
A day after she tweeted about her book signing, Banning posted screenshots showing her book had jumped to number one on the Amazon list for Arthurian Fantasy, and she reported that she had sold out of stock for signed copies.
In a TikTok on Monday, she tearfully expressed her thanks for the response, saying she had been working on her novel since she was 14 years old.
“It’s been with me, like, over half my life,” she said. “I don’t have any words. These are happy tears, I promise.”