“Only 2 people came to my author signing yesterday, so I was pretty bummed about it,” she tweeted on Dec. 4. “Kind of upset, honestly, and a little embarrassed.”
“I just needed to vent a little where I thought a lot of people wouldn’t see it and I wouldn’t come off as ungrateful,” Banning explained to In The Know. “My Twitter is usually pretty quiet.”
Within a few hours, Banning was overwhelmed with an outpouring of support from other writers and authors, including a few celebrity names she could not believe were actually interacting with her post.
“Neil Gaiman (who is my and my family’s favorite writer), Margaret Atwood, Jodi Picoult and Robin Hobb were the big names that popped out,” Banning said. “I’m such a big fan of all of them.”
While a lot of the writers responded with words of encouragement, some shared their own book-signing horror stories.
“I did a book reading where only my husband’s cousin showed up,” Min Jin Lee, whose 2017 novel Pachinko was a finalist for the National Book Awards and has since been turned into an Apple TV+ series. “One person. I’ll never forget that reading.”
“I did a signing to which Nobody came, except a guy who wanted to buy some Scotch tape and thought I was the help,” said novelist Margaret Atwood, who has so many awards and honorary degrees we can’t fit them all into the remainder of this sentence.
“Was once signing books and a woman came up with a john Grisham novel. When i pointed out it wasn’t written by me she asked if i was signing books or not! So i signed it with love from me and John Grisham,” journalist and bestselling author Sheila O’Flanagan added.
“Zero people came to my first reading (for The Girl in the Road, at Malaprops in Asheville). I ended up drinking a glass of wine with the events coordinator and trying not to cry. It’s a rite of passage many of us have been through,” playwright Monica Byrne said. The Girl in the Road would go on to win the 2015 James Tiptree Jr. Award.
“1st reading, 1st book, a bookstore in Milwaukee. Maybe 15 people show up. I do my reading, answer some Qs,” NPR host Peter Sagal said. “Then, the very nice bookstore clerk says, ‘Peter’s book is available for purchase at the register.’ Guy sitting at the front yells, ‘Well, how much does it cost?'”
Since she tweeted about her experience, Banning’s book has reached the top spot in the Arthurian Fantasy section on Amazon. Her Twitter following has also increased by the thousands, and she’s doing her part as an up-and-coming author to highlight other independently published books and writers.
“I keep telling my friends that I don’t know what to do with myself,” she said. “The outpouring of encouragement and support has been amazing.”
As for future writers who are afraid of venturing into the literary world, Banning highly recommends reaching out to the writing community.
Special Offer for YouThese 10 gifts under $50 from Nordstrom will arrive in time for Valentine's Day
More from In The Know: