Book Signings at Sea

Publishing at Sea: I was recently a faculty member at this marvelous conference for authors. Those of us who have published works—whether faculty or conference attendees—were invited to sign our books at two separate signing events on the third-largest cruise ship in the world. What an opportunity! What an honor! And what fun to connect with so many new readers!

Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Sea is, indeed, the third-largest cruise ship on the oceans: 1,186 feet in length, rising 236 feet above the waterline, and weighing 225,282 tons, an engineering marvel apparently effortlessly afloat. On the sixteenth deck—that’s right, the sixteenth—you can sit in sheltered splendor inside a solarium, gazing out at nothing but ocean. On the eighth deck, you can sip tea or wine in one of the enclaves edging Central Park—a massive deck replete with trees. On the third deck you can sit in comfortable classrooms and conference rooms attending meetings or sessions. And on the Main Promenade, the ship’s Cruise Manager worked with our Publishing at Sea Founder Judith Briles to arrange for us to array our books on tables and greet the 6,000 passengers who strolled by.

Imagine being featured inside an elegant, well-appointed mall, with passengers hearing announcements about authors signing their books. They add us to their schedules, or happen by as they consider where to shop after lunch. Our events were something like that, though better, since we had a captive audience. What we found was that people were curious, inquisitive, and eager to find just the right book for themselves, or to have gifts to offer when they returned home from their cruise.

All the authors in Publishing at Sea follow a practice not only of courtesy toward one another, but we also have an awareness of the value of synergy. If I talk about my colleague’s book, he may make a sale. If I hear a reader mentioning a topic of interest, I might know where to direct him or her. Readers notice this behavior, and appreciate it. Who would want to buy a book from a self-absorbed author who doesn’t care about others?

I’ve done book signings in so many bookstores and in so many locations over the years, some well-planned and well-attended . . . some not. Since I love bookstores, I never think of these events as wasted time. But being part of a truly fabulous, inclusive author signing on an elegant cruise ship somehow beats sitting alone at the back of an empty store. If you’re thinking of joining us for Publishing at Sea next year, here’s one more reason to say yes. Well-planned signings are wonder challenges for the head. Standing shoulder-to-shoulder with fellow authors and reaching across tables to connect with readers . . . well, that’s a fulfillment of the heart.

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