Tampa Book Signing Recap

We flew from Minneapolis to Tampa for a week of family, food and books. Three Cigar Maker events were planned: 1) A private “VIP” party at my parents’ house, 2) the official Tampa launch at the Tampa Bay History Center, and 3) a book signing at Tampa’s Inkwood Books. I had no idea how we would do. There has been plenty of interest in Tampa, so I was optimistic. Overall, it was a great week and we did better than we expected.

First, a couple shouts in the Tampa Tribune…both of them unexpected.

Should I be embarrassed to be mentioned in the same “Things to Do” panel with Gil Mantera’s Party Dream?

Anyway, The Tampa Bay History Center insisted on only ordering 18 copies of the book, claiming that some of these book signings can be kind of slow. It was sunny and roughly 95 degrees – a great day for the beach or the boat, and many don’t even venture outside when it gets that hot. Traffic at the museum was low, not much more than a trickle. But we did sell all of the History Center’s inventory and had to break into our own supply, selling about a dozen of those. Overall it was a good day. The museum was happy, we enjoyed a nice family reunion and I got to reconnect with several people that I had not seen in years, including an old friend from college, my godfather, and many aunts, uncles and cousins.

My cousin/uncle Joe Vasquez. Isn't there a character named Vasquez in the book? Yes! Joe's mother is Olympia...isn't there an Olympia in the book too? Yes indeed. Get it?

So after a good day at the History Center (who also ordered more books for their inventory) we had a couple days to hang around in Tampa. Then it was off to Inkwood Books for a Tuesday night signing. I didn’t know how this one would go and at first I was really nervous because there were only about 4 people there. But the place filled up quickly and soon every seat was filled.

I started this thing out by chatting with the first few who were on hand. Note to authors: FIND OUT WHERE PEOPLE HEARD ABOUT YOUR BOOK. I asked one guy and he said he read about it in the paper and then went to Amazon to read reviews. The reviews are what convinced him to make the drive to the bookstore. This goes to show how important Amazon reviews are!!!

Once the crowd started to fill up I asked if there were any questions right away. There were none so I gave an opening remark and started reading the first chapter. Good thing I had a water bottle ready because my throat dried up right away. Now the crowd really started to fill in and soon every seat was filled. About 10 pages in I stopped reading and asked for questions. There were a lot. Here are some, with answers in blue.

“What do you know about Tampa, living in Minneapolis?” I have a lot of family here and have spent a lot of time here. Both grandfathers on my mother’s side were cigar makers from Cuba. Lots of research, etc…

“How long did it take you to write this book?” 7 years

“How do you sell it to people in Minnesota?” If they mention cigars, I sell them on cigars. If they talk about history, I sell them on the history. It is much easier to sell in Tampa sine the story takes place here. Much harder to sell in Minnesota.

“How many characters are actual historical figures, or real people?” Only a few. Maceo, Teddy Roosevelt, Calixto Garcia. 95% of the characters are fictional, but the story is based entirely on true events.

“Do you have an agent?” Don’t need one. Not yet.

“Would it make a good movie?” Yes! Are there any agents in the crowd?

After the Q&A, I kept reading, finishing Chapter 1. People actually applauded when I was finished and then they lined up to have their books signed. One lady asked me to come speak at her school, to give an inspirational talk to the students about how, to quote the great George McFly (actually Marty) “If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.”

The gals at Inkwood Books said I did a good job because I was preparred, I had things to talk about, and I kept the audience engaged and entertained for a long period of time. They said they’ve had some authors who have nothing preparred. They talk for two minutes and then it’s over. I can’t imagine showing up for an event like this and not being preparred…I mean, isn’t this what authors live for? Anyway, I had fun and I think the crowd did too.

Overall, great week. If you haven’t checked out The Cigar Maker, make sure you clicky-click and pick up a copy. If you HAVE read it, please post a review to the book’s Amazon page. These reviews mean more than you know!! You can post your review right here.

Thanks for reading! Looking forward to the next event!!



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