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Set the Table for Success
by Gloria Teague

Much like preparing a meal for dinner guests it’s a good idea to set a booksigning table to grab a buyer’s attention. Just as a tempting presentation makes the meal more appealing, an eye for detail can draw a crowd in at a bookstore or festival.

As a writer, you have a rich, luxurious imagination. Close your eyes and imagine scenes from your book and then come up with ideas how to portray those images into visible, tangible forms for the buying public. Of course having copies of your book with an eye-catching cover will help but it may not be enough.

While marketing my book that is a memoir about the era of bobby socks, poodle skirts, racial injustice and southern folklore I took a trip back in time. When I close my eyes and allow my mind to drift back to those days, I remember certain things that epitomize the memories.

My recollections are built around the people of my family, their triumphs and their tragedies. Everyday items help make up the foundation of these memories such as the Avon liquid deodorant all the women in my family wore and the rubber tipped bobby pins they rolled their hair with. Most of them used Evening of Paris cologne and had elegant ceramic cigarette lighters that sat on the coffee table. Many men I knew carried around a can of Prince Albert tobacco, the rectangular shape visible in their back pocket.

Favorite toys recall afternoons playing alone or weekends with my cousins. I enjoyed playing with a nurse’s kit though I’d asked Santa for a doctor’s kit. My favorite had to be paper dolls and I played with them for hours. But when it came to perfume, I just had to do that one myself for it was too important to leave to the discretion of a man, even if it was Santa Claus. I went to the five and dime store so I could get myself a bottle of Blue Waltz, the ten cent bottle of perfume for the most discerning of little girls in my hometown.

When these memories were written in chronological order, at long last being published, it was time to convince the world that not only did I have a wondrous, funny, interesting family but their own life wouldn’t be complete until they’d bought my book and read about all our adventures. I mean, how many people do you know that took their child to be healed by the Wolfman who was the seventh son of the seventh son? But to get their attention, to make them see my book, I’d need more than a snazzy book cover.

My first stop was an online auction site where I found great deals on many items I wanted to include in my table “display”. For around ten dollars, which included shipping, I found a bottle of my childhood weakness, Blue Waltz, and a “new” book of 1950s Hollywood starlets’ paper dolls. Next I found an original package of the game ball and jacks with a popular advertiser’s logo from that era.

I even found two bottles of Avon liquid deodorant for the lowly price of five dollars. And then there appeared a slightly used yet still lovely hand crocheted table cloth that fit beautifully with that era. I added a slightly battered Prince Albert can, a primer school book and even a bowl of candy like the kind sold in that era. Amazing what you can find online!

After perusing the internet a little more I found old advertisers’ ads in the public domain that I could print out and display on poster board. Not content with just those ads, I stumbled across some old valentine cards in my mother’s box of belongings and those joined the other pictures on the poster. Over the course of the last few months, for I started planning this the moment I was told my book would be published, I’ve found many items to use to grab future reading fans’ attention.

I put together a scrap book of the actual people in my book. If readers choose to, they can look through my old photos before or after they read the back (synopsis) of the book. The last thing I did was to “burn” my own CDs. I have put about 85 old time rock and roll songs on four CDs. I created music to sign books by. There are people that actually dance in front of my table while we all smile and remember when. I use the music to entice their dancing feet and nostalgic heart then present a veritable cornucopia of remembrances of yesteryear to strike a chord in their heart of memories. So as they go through my book of paper dolls and while “everybody in the whole cell block was dancing to the jailhouse rock” I smile and sign.

© Copyright 2009, Gloria Teague

Gloria Teague, author of Saturday Night Cocoa Fudge and Beyond the Surgeon’s Touch, both available from AWOC.COM Publishing. www.gloriateague.com

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