by John F. Harnish
In 2006, I had the good fortune to attend the 45th reunion of my ’61 graduating class.
A friend suggested I put copies of my books on each table as prizes for my classmates – perhaps one book for the person at each table with the closest birthday, and the other to the class member who traveled the greatest distance to attend the reunion. This was much better than my original idea of just displaying copies of my published books on a table with other books authored by my class members.
I called the reunion organizers to ask if this would be possible. She liked the idea of giving my books away as prizes, but first she needed committee approval. There were over 500 in my graduating class, and I figured about 120 would be attending – based on the attendance at the 40th reunion. That would mean 12 round tables with 10 class members and spouses at each table.
The organizer called several days before the event to let me know there would be 180 attending, seated at 18 round tables. Thusly, just before the start of the banquet, I placed books on each of the tables. When the emcees were doing the raffle drawing, they also announced that my books were table prizes and that I’d be available to sign them throughout the evening. Alas, I forgot the one essential item absolutely necessary for every book signing – a good pen!!!
For a few brief, magical hours, I felt like a Rock Star, and I didn’t even have to sing – I just had to sign my books. It was way cool being the only author there with books to give out and sign. This clearly wasn’t a selling books situation – like crass salespersons pitching and passing out their cards at purely social events. This was all about bringing a smile to my classmates by giving books as gifts, and yes, with hopes for some word-of-mouth benefits. But most of all, it was just a lot of fun!
Consider attending your next high school or college reunion. Contact the organizers well ahead of time to get their okay for your special table prizes, and be prepared to wait until the committee has a chance to discuss your generous offer. If you can’t attend, perhaps you can make arrangements with the organizer to give copies of your book out as door prizes as a gift to the class with your regrets that you can’t be there – assuring them you’ll be there in spirit.
You don’t have to put a book on each table – you could tape your author business cards randomly under a half-dozen chair seats and the lucky people sitting in those chairs wins a copy of your book. Order your books in time to receive them a week before the event – and order a few extra to have on hand just in case someone wants to buy an extra copy to give to a friend. If you’re traveling to another city for your reunion, your books can be sent directly to the hotel, but make sure to have the correct address for UPS deliveries and include your check-in arrival date.
Once all this busy work is done, go ahead and enjoy your evening. Dress up in some sharp duds, put on your dancing shoes, and wear a proud smile!!! After all, you’re a bit of a celebrity now – you’re a published author. And oh, don’t forget to bring your pen!!!
Photo courtesy of Mary Gober.