When one author shared that only two people showed up at her book signing, bestselling authors shared their worst moments.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on December 6, 2022. It has since been updated.
Choosing to be an author can be extremely rewarding and equally challenging. The most well-known authors right now have struggled earlier in their careers, to deal with publishers, advertisements and to gain more readers. Authors Margaret Atwood, Neil Gaiman and Jodi Picoult opened up about their underwhelming book signing events in response to a Twitter thread about another author's disappointing experience, reports The Independent.
Chelsea Banning, a fantasy author, tweeted her displeasure on December 4, 2022, after just two people turned up to a signing for her debut novel Of Crowns and Legends. She wrote, "Only 2 people came to my author signing yesterday, so I was pretty bummed about it. Especially as 37 people responded 'going' to the event. Kind of upset, honestly and a little embarrassed." The tweet caught the eye of My Sister's Keeper author Jodi Picoult, who responded by sharing her own experience.
Only 2 people came to my author signing yesterday, so I was pretty bummed about it. Especially as 37 people responded "going" to the event. Kind of upset, honestly, and a little embarrassed.— Chelsea Banning Author (@chelseabwrites) December 4, 2022
She wrote, "I have sat lonely at a signing table many times only to have someone approach... and ask me where the bathroom is." It didn't stop there as Atwood, the acclaimed author of The Handmaid's Tale, also responded by writing, "Join the club. I did a signing to which nobody came, except a guy who wanted to buy some Scotch tape and thought I was the help." Gaiman, the author of Coraline, too shared his experience by writing: "Terry Pratchett and I did a signing in Manhattan for Good Omens that nobody came to at all. So you are two up on us."
Terry Pratchett and I did a signing in Manhattan for Good Omens that nobody came to at all. So you are two up on us.— Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) December 5, 2022
David Nicholls, the author of One Day, chimed in to share his own experience and wrote, "The one where the bookshop staff kindly pretended to be customers so I wouldn't feel too bad, that stays with me." Jonathan Coe, the author of Middle England, responded by saying, "I was once invited to a crime writers' festival. Colin Dexter was on at the same time. Only one person showed up for me. We chatted for a while and I told him how glad I was that he'd come. He said, 'Actually I'm Ian Rankin and I was supposed to be introducing you.'"
Malorie Blackman, the author of Noughts & Creases, shared that she "once did a talk at a library and five people turned up, including a mum who planted her two infant school children in front of me and then strategically 'withdrew' to get some peace for a while.'"
Join the club. I did a signing to which Nobody came, except a guy who wanted to buy some Scotch tape and thought I was the help. :)— Margaret E. Atwood (@MargaretAtwood) December 5, 2022
These responses from best-selling authors under Banning's post suggest that everyone initially struggles to make their voice reach a large number of people. However, with persistent work and perseverance, these authors climbed up the ladder of the literary world and made their mark in an absolutely brave way. Banning's tweet has gathered more than 60k likes and over 1900 retweets. The thread is becoming an inspiration for young writers who are struggling to make it in this competitive industry.
Although people are discouraged from pursuing writing as a profession, it is one of the most rewarding ones. If you constantly keep working on your skills, maybe someday your book signings will be a house full and your books will be adapted into movies or TV shows by the biggest names in the entertainment industry.