The first time I faced the public with my published book was at the 2008 Mississauga Book Fair in Mississauga, Ontario. I had 100 books printed and they were not cheap. It was embarrassing, really. My little 6″ x 6″ soft cover cost $32. I didn’t know anything about printing books at the time so I just hired a local printer to do it and wound up paying through the nose. To make this expensive little book a little more enticing, I called it a limited first edition and hand numbered every copy. It worked. I sold out.
But I hated the fact that I had only one expensive product. I knew not everybody had an extra $32 burning a hole through their pockets and I wanted to offer some kind of personalized memento. This is way before I got into merchandising. The only other thing I had at my table was a stack of bookmarks. Lightbulb! If someone seemed genuinely interested in my work, I offered to write their name on a bookmark in my signature writing style. Voila, free memento! It really took off. In fact, people were so excited to see their name come out of my pen that I would often get the same person returning with the bookmark in hand, accompanied by others who were pointing excitedly at me and sheepishly getting up the nerve to ask for their own customized bookmarks. Needless to say, the stack of bookmarks didn’t last long.
I’ve done the same thing at every exhibition, convention and fair since. You could say that writing names on bookmarks has become my signature schtick, but it’s more than that. It connects me to my fans in a profound and personal way. People are genuinely honoured that I have taken the time to make something just for them. And it goes both ways. I believe everybody deserves to feel honoured. It humbles me to know that my work is appreciated and I find this moment we share opens up sincere conversation.
Any time I have the opportunity to customize an order I am happy to help. Here’s a short video showing how I personalized a recent order for Barbra.
I met Barbra at Toronto’s Bazaar of the Bizarre in December 2013. I was exhibiting my books and other products and she just happened to stroll by. Barbra was ecstatic about my work so it was an absolute pleasure to customize this for her.
If you see me at a future convention, don’t be shy to ask for your name on a bookmark. It’s what I do. It’s my way to say thank you for appreciating my work.