Friday, June 24, 2011


Julie Meets Janet

by Julie Kramer

We authors have favorite authors, too. So when word went out that Janet Evanovich was coming to town, that got my attention.

Janet hardly tours, she doesn't have to. Her intrepid bounty hunter protagonist Stephanie Plum's latest adventure, SMOKIN' SEVENTEEN, sold 218,000 copies of hardcover, e-books, and audio the first day of release this week. Her new publisher, Bantam, sent her to four cities. Among them, Edina, Minnesota. I was proud my state's reputation for being a top literary mecca landed us one of publishing's most popular phenomenons.

So I drove 30 miles to the Barnes and Noble hosting her, arrived at 8:58 am and learned people had been lined up for three hours already. I received a purple wristband numbering 234. Once numbered, fans could leave and return for the evening signing, scheduled to start at 6 pm. A math formula of 50 people per half hour gave us a rough idea of when our group would be called.

I bought my book, drove home 30 miles and read the first 80 pages (my favorite scene thus far being Lulu wrestling with a vampire) admiring Janet's pluck for jumping on the vampire bandwagon.

Not wanting to be late for my line up, I drove 30 miles back and had dinner across the street, checking on my cell phone to stay in touch with the event. At 7:50 pm numbers between 200 and 300 were called to I got in place. The store made the wait interesting by giving away balloons, cake, and a pin that said “Plum Crazy.”

There's a current debate going on in publishing circles on whether author tours are dead and whether bookstores should start requiring attendees to buy a book there, or pay a fee because so many readers are apparently showing up at events with their cheaper online purchases. I always buy an author's book at the event, because I understand how book stores are hurting these days. In this case, the B & N - Galleria welcomed everyone. Readers were even allowed to bring backlist copies and some came pulling suitcases.

One was Angela, who was next to me in line. She's the kind of fan we authors all crave. Buys hardcovers and will stand in line for hours to meet us. Here she is, posing with her haul. And when she heard I was an author, and that the Chicago Tribune had compared me to Janet Evanovich, she bought all three of my books – STALKING SUSAN, MISSING MARK, and SILENCING SAM, and had me sign them. So did another woman standing by us in line. So I was making friends and fans myself.

By 9 pm, our books had been flapped and the line was getting closer to our idol: Janet.

And when we met, she was nice to me. I told her I was a mystery author, too. She asked me my name and one of the store staff heard our exchange and stepped in and vouched for me. We even had our picture taken together.

As I left, about 9:15 pm, I learned 827 numbers had been given out thus far and that Janet would stay until the last book was signed. I later found that didn't happen until nearly one the next morning.
Julie Kramer is moving from journalist to novelist. She writes a series set in the desperate world of television news. Her latest thriller, KILLING KATE, received 4 ½ stars from RT Book Reviews and will be released July 26. Julie won the RT Reviewer's Choice Award for Best First Mystery as well as the Minnesota Book Award. Her work has also been a finalist for the Anthony, Barry, Shamus, Mary Higgins Clark, and Daphne du Maurier Awards.


  1. I think that's great that you went to the booksigning!

    Although I buy a lot of books online, when I'm around a bookstore, I still go into purchase books. If I attend a booksigning, I appreciate that a store might let me bring a few of the author's backlist for a signature, but I always purchase the current title right there for signature. I wouldn't dream of doing anything less. If someone can't afford a new hardcover -- which I totally understand -- I still believe they should at least buy a paperback copy of the author's work.

    The bookseller deserves that support!

  2. I hope Janet will now read your books (she'll love them!!)....then maybe she'll make a point of coming to one of your signings!! See you in July!!

  3. Interesting story. That's a huge crowd at one time--poor Janet! I bet she had writer's cramp. (We should all be so poor!) I buy some books online but never at a signing. If I go, I buy a book there. It would be like sitting down at a candlelit table in a nice restaurant, ordering water, and opening your fast food hamburger bag. Too tacky!

  4. Janet was a guest of honor at one of the early New England Crimebake mystery conferences, and she is always gracious and funny and charming. As an author, She works long hard hours and has a real committment to her writing. I have laughed till I cried at some of Stephanie Plum's adventures. It's cool to mix crime and comedy.

    Judith Copek
    The Shadow Warriors, now on your Kindle

  5. "Janet hardly tours, she doesn't have to."

    Janet tours when every Stephanie Plum book book comes out. I've been to HUGE events where I waited hours upon hours in NJ (one where 4000 people came to the hotel in Trenton, the next one was held in the stadium) and in NY. Some tours are started on the west coast which I didn't attend.

    I've been to book stores where you could only get the new release signed because there were so many people waiting.

    And yes, Janet signed them all

  6. So many great comments! Thanks for stopping by. I would have responded sooner, but I was off on book tour myself this weekend. Uh, at least I was with James Rollins for his weekend of touring in the Bay Area. As fun as it sounds to meet hundreds of adoring fans, it's NOT easy.

    We were talking about Janet this weekend. It's really impressive that she stays to sign every last book. One of the booksellers we saw had hosted her in the past, and commented about how she gave every reader her attention and their moment with her. It's a gift that not all authors have mastered.

    But here's a sad note... Yesterday at M is for Mystery, a bookseller commented that it's harder and harder to get audiences to come out for the tours (unless you're Janet Evanovich, apparently). She said it wasn't just their store, that all the booksellers in the area have reported the same phenomenon. I hope they're wrong, because I would hate to see the tours go away. As Julie captured so wonderfully in this post, it's one of the best interactive/community experiences that we sometimes solitary readers can have. It's so much more than a signature in a book.

    Thank you again, Julie, for sharing this great post with my readers! You are SO invited back any time you want!

  7. What an exciting event--great pic of the back list--and I'm so glad you found new fans too!