Saturday, April 25, 2009

Me and Martha

Even though I was tired from my Chicago trip and had a ton of things to do, I couldn’t resist when I saw the listing in the Sunday paper. Martha Stewart was doing a book signing for her craft encyclopedia at the Borders in Northridge.

I figured it was research since Molly Pink handles bookstore events in the crochet mysteries. I was curious to see what a real celebrity event was like. I was curious about Martha Stewart, too.

The newspaper said the event started at 3 and that’s when I arrived. There were tons of people there already. I heard a rumor that some people had gotten there at 6 a.m.. I found out the hard way that you couldn’t just get in line for the signing. There was a whole protocol set up. First you had to buy the book, then you stepped over to someone who checked your receipt and gave you a colored wrist band. I got a blue one and was told to hang around where I could hear the loudspeaker for an announcement for my group. I was also given a list of rules. The cut off number for wrist bands was 350. There would be no personalizing of books, and while we could take photos from the line, there would be no posing with Martha.

I found that the yellow wrist bands were already lined up, and the greens who followed them were hanging around waiting to be moved to the staging area. The blues were beginning to congregate behind the greens, so I joined them. Everybody was holding at least one heavy book.

I think it must have been an hour before the blues were moved into the staging area, but the time flew by. Most of the people in line were crafters and we all started talking. The woman behind me was a fellow crocheter and we talked granny squares. I handed out bookmarks for Dead Men Don’t Crochet.

At last we moved up and snaked around the bookshelves close to the signing table. Cameras came out and a bookstore employee checked that our books were all flapped with the front page tucked under the book cover to ensure the book would open right to the signing page.

A bookstore employee greeted each person in the line just as we got within sight of Martha, while a bunch of publicists and assistants hung around the table.

At last my moment was there. Martha looked just like she does on television. She said hello in a friendly voice. She noticed my crocheted flower pin and said I was obviously a crafter. I seized the moment and said I wrote a crochet themed mystery series. She countered by mentioning that they had a needlework encyclopedia coming out next year. She signed my book in green ink that perfecting matched the green in the book. Even after signing countless books, her handwriting was beautiful.

In retrospect, I realize I should have offered her a bookmark, but before I could think about it, my book was back in my hand and I was moving on to the next station where a man with big scissors was clipping off wrist bands and I heard an announcement that the purples were moving into the staging area.

The next day there was an article in the newspaper about the signing. Apparently it was the first time Martha had come to the San Fernando Valley in twenty years and the crowd came from all over, as far as fifty miles away. She was on the Tonight show that night and talked about the book signing and all the people who had showed up. It was neat to hear her referring to something I’d been to.

All in all it was a fun afternoon and I got a lot of ideas for my fictional bookstore events. The craft encyclopedia is great, filled with all kinds of things I’d like to make. And the perfect green ink signature makes it extra special.

I just hope that someday my blog sisters and I have book signings so popular we have to use color coded wrist bands to manage the crowd.


Feeding the Grey Cells said...

I enjoyed your article (even though I am NOT a Martha Stewart fan) and thought the "protocol" aspect was most interesting.


Betty Hechtman said...

Yes, Feeding the Grey Cells, the way the signing was handled was interesting and a big part of the reason I went. I have to say the people in line and the bookstore employees were extremely nice.

Camille Minichino said...

Great report, Betty! I've been wondering whether to pick up that book; now I think I will though I'll miss the handwriting.

Also - who knows - if you'd handed her a bookmark, the gesture might have been misinterpreted and you might have been arrested!

Betty Hechtman said...

Camille, I kind of thought along the same lines about the bookmark. I also thought it might have been tacky.

Linda O. Johnston said...

Although, like Feeding the Grey Cells, I'm not a Martha Stewart fan, I'm definitely impressed about the turnout, Betty, and the handling of the event. Absolutely something for us all to aspire to!

Betty Hechtman said...

Linda, I was impressed how Martha handled the crowd. By chance I went to a book signing of Robert James Waller's. It wasn't for Bridges of Madison County, but several books later. He had presigned the books and just got up and talked about himself. He never had any contact with the crowd and seemed very above everyone. I like the way Martha Stewart handled her event much better.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Betty, I hope we have big signings, too. I like the green ink idea. What a small but cool way to make the signing even more special.