Guest Post and Giveaway: Overheard at a Booksigning with Karen Harrington

I frequently get asked what prompted me to write a story that starts with a mother who kills. It’s a fair question. If you told me five years ago that I’d be writing about this subject, I might have looked at you like you had banana peel shoes. (And if you do own a pair of banana peel shoes, I mean no disrespect, but I hope you have good insurance.)

Ultimately, I did write about the subject of maternal filicide, but not without a good bit of trepidation. Though JANEOLOGY is set in motion by this troubling crime, I decided that looking at the crime would be most compelling through the eyes of her spouse, Tom – who lived with her, loved her, and ultimately, heart-breakingly, was somehow unable to see the mental breakdown occurring right before his eyes.

As you might imagine, describing this story is even tougher for a debut author under the bright lights of a Barnes & Noble. It has been a steep learning curve for sure. Naturally shy, I bought every short sleeved turtle-neck I could find to hide the red nervous neck I knew would come when I asked someone to part with their hard earned money and take a chance on an unknown author. Like most things in life, with each description, with the meeting of each new book-buyer, I got better. (And even learned how to pitch differently to men and women, to relax and have fun.)

So thought I’d share some of the more interesting exchanges I’ve had in recent months.

Of my books on the signing table.

“Are these complimentary?”

Of the topic of filicide.

“I can’t read this. I read The Lovely Bones and I hated it.”

Of my pitch that my novel is about a man trying to understand his wife by way of understanding the family secrets and ancestors in her family.

“Oh, we all have black sheep in our family. My brother’s wife just left him and he’s now realizing it had something to do with her mother.”

Of my description of the book to a kind old man.

“Sounds good. Let me go ask my wife.”

Of the title.

“Oh, is this another book about Jane Austen?”

Of my offer to sign a book for a woman.

“Oh, are you the author?”

Of my newly confident introduction to the next person who approached my table, “Hi, I’m the author Karen Harrington.”

“Hello the author Karen Harrington.”

Of the chocolate mints on my signing table.

“What are these for?”

Me: Well, you know, fiction tastes better with chocolate.

Of the puzzle on my signing table.

“Why did you cut up your cover like that?”

Of the woman who ran over to my table with her hubby and told me her name was Jane.

Hubby: “If I read this, will I understand my wife better?”

Me: Uh, maybe. (nervous laughter) Here’s a bookmark.” (She leaves. Returns 10 minutes later.)

“OMG! OMG! My husband’s name is Tom!” (See, the couple in my book is Jane and Tom.)

Of my accidental penning “Very best pictures” (Doh! Should have written WISHES)

Me: “Oh, I’m so sorry. We were talking about pictures, and, well, ha ha…well, if I become famous, one day this will be very valuable.”

She: (eyes rolling)

Of me just standing there alone for a looooooong time feeling like a dork.

“So, I saw you standing here by yourself for a looooooong time. I’m a salesman. Make your best pitch in 60 seconds. Go.” (Yup. I sold him a copy.)


Number of signings so far: 5

Number of books sold: 71

Number of miles traveled: 156

Poorest results: 3 hours/3 books

Best results: Sold out – 25 books in 2 hours

Most useful signing tools: A smile, bookmarks and photo album including pics of my ancestors that served as genealogical inspiration for JANEOLOGY. (I would add chocolate mints, but I ate many of these myself, so…)

Times asked where person could find another book: 4

Funniest Ooops: When a bookstore manager introduced me over the store PA as Jane!

Biggest thrill: When a young girl told me she wanted to be a writer, asked my advice and would I please sign her bookmark.

Biggest book promotion lesson: Finally understanding my mentor’s statement, “There are many writers with talent, but few have the temperament to make a career of it.”

Ranking on the worth-it meter: Off the charts!!!!

Blogger Bio: Karen Harrington lives in Texas with her husband and children. She received a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Texas at Dallas. She is the author of the legal thriller Janeology, and a children’s book, There’s a Dog in the Doorway, created expressly for the Dr. Laura Schlessinger Foundation’s “My Stuff Bags”.

Read an interview with Karen on J. Kaye’s Book Blog HERE

You can read a synopsis of Janeology from the publisher’s website HERE

I will be giving away my copy of Janeology to one lucky reader! Just leave a comment here by July 15th for a chance to win!

41 Responses

  1. Count me in! I’ve heard so many good things about this book.

    I thought this guest post was funny! I’ve heard from a few authors how frustrating these book signings can be.

  2. I would love to win this book! Thanks!

  3. I would love to be put in the drawing to win the book as well.

  4. Very entertaining post 🙂 Please count me in for the book giveaway!

  5. Count me in for the giveaway! Thanks!

  6. Very interesting insights about book tours. I’m in for the drawing! (I’m a lawyer; the book is a legal thriller = obvious match!)

  7. I thoroughly enjoyed this post! Thanks! Oh, and I’d really love to read this book, so please enter me in the drawing!

  8. GREAT POST! I chuckled the whole way through. and yet, the book isn’t humorous, is it? IT sound fascinating – Pls enter me! (oh and I told Trish that you sent me for that giveaway – hope it helps you? She’s never going to make it to July 12)

  9. “There are many writers with talent, but few have the temperament to make a career of it.”

    I think this is the reason I couldn’t ever be an author. I would be absolutely crushed once I saw how difficult it is to sell my writing as a new author.

    I’ve heard lots of great things about this book and I hope it really picks up. AND I’d love to win a copy 🙂

  10. Erm, that was me up there (bexadler). Sorry, I sometimes forget to logout of wordpress and it fills things out for me.

  11. Marvelous guest post. Thanks for the chance to win the book.

  12. Great guest post Lisa!! Please throw my name in the hat for this one!

  13. Yes ma’am. Count me in, darling!

  14. I’d love to win this book – I’ve been hearing awesome things about it. Count me in!

  15. Loved the Q and A! What a hoot.

  16. Oops. Guess it’s not so much Q and A as topic and response…..but it was still funny.

  17. Count me in! I met the author on LibraryThing over the weekend and I’d love a chance to read her novel.

  18. Great post! I have read a few raving reviews that I can’t wait to read this. Thanks for the giveaway.

  19. Lol love the Jane Austen comment! I’d love chance to win this 🙂

    **Seen my latest giveaway? It’s “Aberrations” by Penelope Przekop. Comment here.

  20. Karen,
    I already have the book. I just wanted to stop by and say “hi” and tell you that you gave me a little chuckle with some of the things that were said here! Keeps life interesting.

  21. Hey, Karen!
    Ooo–kay. Let’s see if I’ve got it down, since I start doing signings on Sept. 1:
    ___ Chocolate (check)
    ___ Sense of humor (check)
    ___ High-necked shirts in the event of dermatological incident (check)
    ___ Map of store for ease in directing customers to other books they can buy (check)
    ___ Best WISHES. Best WISHES. Best WISHES. (check)
    Got it! Thanks, girl!

    Beth Fehlbaum, author
    Courage in Patience, a story of hope for those who have endured abuse
    Chapter 1 is online!

  22. Sounds like a great book! I’ll have to see if she’s coming to a B&N near me. 🙂

  23. […] on Books to Take on a Trip to the…Julie P. on Books to Take on a Trip to the…trish on Guest Post and Giveaway: Overh…Elizabeth on Guest Post and Giveaway: Elin […]

  24. Thanks everyone for all your wonderful comments. This was a fun post to write and I’m sure years from now I’ll be so glad I did as it marks a diary of my debut experiences.

    If any of you do read JANEOLOGY, I hope you’ll write to me so I can send you a signed bookplate.


    Karen Harrington

  25. I’d love to win this one. It sounds like a great book!

  26. O wow! Very cool. Thanks!

  27. Sounds very interesting! Count me in! 🙂

  28. Great Post!! Very entertaining! I’m dying to read this book, so please enter me in your contest!! Thanks Lisa!

  29. I’d love to read this! Please enter me. Thank you for the chance!

  30. I loved reading about comments the author received at book signings. Too funny.

    Please enter me in the drawing. Thanks.

  31. Please enter me-thanks:)

  32. I loved reading about the bizarre questions people have asked. I’m always shy about going to talk to an author at a reading and asking questions, but it looks like not everyone shares my shyness.

  33. Great guest post … I’ll have to click over and let Karen know how much I enjoyed it.

    Please enter me in the drawing.

  34. Great quotes! I’d love to be in the drawing.

  35. […] give away an additional copy of her book! So we will have TWO lucky winners of JANEOLOGY! Comment HERE by midnight to get in on the […]

  36. Enter me!

  37. Please throw my name in the “hat!”

  38. Great post! I would love to win a copy of this book. I’ve heard so many good things about it! Thanks for the opportunity.

  39. I’d love to be entered for the contest.

  40. Great post! Please count me in!

  41. Definitely sounds interesting. A mother drowning her own kid.. kind of disturbing really. But I’ll love the chance to read it. Please enter me in the contest. Thanks. =)

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