On March 31st, 2012 the lower floor of 50 Penn Place was packed with people. The chairs were packed. The walls were packed. A group of people stood behind the designated seating area around the elevators, and there were even people behind the stage who were looking for a vantage point. After being delayed in traffic due to a wreck on I-35, Ree Drummond (better known as The Pioneer Woman) was ready to begin her book signing event at OKC’s beloved Full Circle Book Store. The event doubled as a fundraiser for the YWCA Domestic Violence Shelter, and by the crowd, it looked to be a good day to help out the provision of those important services.
Drummond mentioned she “gets nervous speaking,” so she used a Powerpoint presentation. The crowd was interactive as she went through her slides covering the history and development of her online blogging, cooking and TV projects highlighting life on the central NW Oklahoma cattle ranch where she, her husband and their four children reside. The attendees’ smiles turned to laughter as she finished her presentation by singing “Endless Love” to her Basset Hound, Charlie.
One key to a good audience connection is an open and one-down position. Drummond interspersed her presentation with many of these moments, including one instance where she had backed up until she ran into a plant behind her. As she played with the plant fronds bouncing around her head she commented, “I’m so nervous I’ve backed into the plant!” The owner of the Full Circle was certainly correct in stating that The Pioneer Woman needed no introduction on her background nor her cookbooks. The audience genuinely seemed to enjoy her talk.
And then…came the business of the book signing. This is a tricky and highly managed process with which the Full Circle staff seemed to be keenly familiar. When attending one of these events, if you wish to purchase a book and get it signed by the author, you are given a note card with a “group” number. There are fifty people per group. I was in group nine, and as the staff member handed me my card she started the education process: “After the presentation, you might want to relax, shop, or leave for a while then come back. You can call us and check in to see what group is next in line. It’s going to be at least two hours to get to your number…maybe longer.”
Okay, that was fair. I chatted with audience members I recognized after the presentation then left.
I met my husband for lunch, then I called the bookstore. They were on group two.
I went home and weeded my garden, then I called the bookstore. They were on group four.
I decided to try and take a nap, having gotten little sleep the night before. I laid there for about thirty minutes then worried I might lose my place in line. So, I called the bookstore. They were on group seven.
Wait, SEVEN? How did THAT happen? I tossed on my jeans and my OSU alumni t-shirt (the OSU cowgirls were playing for the NIT basketball national championship) and headed back to the Full Circle.
I checked in with several close to the bookstore in line. They were still on group seven. “Okay,” I thought. “This process waxes and wanes. I should just relax and check out this line-waiting thing.” So I did. Here’s what I discovered:
Regardless of the environment, children seem to find a way to entertain themselves if given the situation of having to hang out in a place for several hours. Up, around and down. Repeat…over and over.
There are artistically styled or painted buffalo sculptures all over the Oklahoma City area. This one, however, was all dressed up in pearls. She (?) was used as a backdrop for event photo after event photo. Lovely gal!
Inside the bookstore, line-standing allows you to learn all kinds of information you might otherwise have breezed by. Okay, I might have breezed by. For instance, Oklahoma Author Gore Vidal has a cool name, and awesome art on his book jackets.
Line standing allows you to eavesdrop on a wide variety of conversations. For example, this gentleman and his wife “travel the U.S. and go to every place featured on ‘Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.'” He professed to have a spreadsheet where they keep track of where they’ve been, and where they still have to go. He seemed very excited about this hobby, and frankly, I can understand why running all over the country eating amazing food would be one positive way to spend your retirement time and resources.
A phenomenon called, “What should I say to her when I get there?” seemed to be happening at this point. For the ten feet prior to this shot, about 6-8 women held the “What if…” conversation. “If I’m only going to say one thing, what should it be?” When they asked me, I answered, “I don’t know. I’ll probably tell her hi and talk for a minute.” I’m not sure this resonated so well. One of them decided to ask for Cowboy Josh‘s phone number.
Five and one-half hours after the presentation began, I was next in line for the book signing. I’ll have to say, I was acting a little like I was hyped up on Red Bull. I suppose I was downright giddy to meet someone who represented our state, successful blogging, cattle ranching, etc. in such a large way. Rather than ask for a photo, I asked the staff member who was taking pictures to take a video. Here are a few short clips:
Did I write giddy? Perhaps I meant out of control. After waiting for that long I was excited! By the way, I was a “gift giver” too. I gave her an extra hand. If that’s confusing, this photo might help you understand:
And that, folks, is a report on some of the dynamics of standing in line at a book signing. Or, at least the one for PW at the Full Circle last week.
Note to self (and to you, if you’d like…): Next time, find out about book signings early AND purchase book as quickly as possible.