Living in Bakersfield, CA I don’t have access to a lot of book conventions, workshops, or festivals. So when there is one I make it a priority to be there. In August 2011 I went to the Los Angeles Black Book Expo to meet other book lovers, authors, and publishers. One of the authors I met there was Cherie Johnson. She was the actress that played on ‘Punky Brewster’ and ‘Family Matters’. She has written a book titled ‘Around The World Twice’ and came to our bookstore to promote it. We started talking and it turns out that she wanted to come to the bookstore to do a signing in the past. In a Twilight Zone type episode, she told me that she called the bookstore a while back and was discouraged her from signing there. *Sigh*. So after I apologized my ASS off, I told her that I would do everything in my power to make it happen.
And we did.
One of the things that impressed me about Cherie from the start (aside from the fact that she was smokin’ hot) was her interaction with her fans. She spoke to everyone, smiled at everyone, shook hands with everyone, and took pictures with everyone. Having been in the book business for a while I can tell you that this is not the norm. I have seen authors come into our store and just sit on their ass and don’t move. I always say that meeting an author is more personal than meeting an actor because an actor is acting out somebody else’s words. When you meet an author you are meeting the actual person that wrote the words. That matters. Even when I was at the Black Book Expo there were authors that were very standoff-ish. Cherie was not. We had a great talk, I gave her one of my t-shirts, and we promised to stay in touch.
And we did.
And roughly two months later Cherie and her friend, Joy Thomas, walked through the doors of Russo’s Books. I was in the back getting a few things ready and making sure that Cherie’s ‘Capri Sun’ was nice and cold (sorta inside joke) before I went back out. Even before I said hello Cherie was already speaking, talking, and joking with the people in my bookstore. SHE GETS IT! This isn’t some spoiled celebrity who has bodyguards and an entourage; this is a woman who is genuinely happy to meet people. I am so tired of dealing with prima donna authors who think they are above it all and that we, the peasant public, must bow down and kiss their feet just because they give themselves some fake title. I’m SO tired of dealing with authors who take no pride in meeting and schmoozing with their fan base. The way the publishing world is restructuring itself, there are fewer author signing because they are fewer book sold. In a strange paradox, the #1 revenue for bookstores is… author signings! So when an author does get a chance to meet their fans, it’s a good thing for everyone involved. Provided the customers show up to support the author AND the store.
Cherie COMPLETELY sold out of the books that we had in stock and had to dip into her bag of books she brought with her. The entire time Cherie was here she was talking, laughing, smiling, (looking cute), signing, walking, and making connections. That same day we had the ladies of ‘A Woman’s Perspective’ calendar signing as well. The match couldn’t have been more perfect. The ladies played off each other like The London Symphony. Once the customers got their calendar signed they would gravitate toward Cheri and she would charm them even more. Near the end of the signing she even gave out her info to a woman who wanted to get know more about the writing game. Now… could an author sitting on their butt do that? Nope. Would an author who could care less do that? Not a chance.
And yes, I know there are those who will have a problem with me calling her an “author” even though she has a book published. Get over it. While she IS an author, the point of this blog is to let you know about a writer who GET’S IT. Because there are sooooooo many who don’t. Having Cherie here was a pleasure and I sincerely hope we have privilege of hosting her again. One of the connections Cherie made while she was here was meeting LaMeka Ross. Ms. Ross will be heading up the next Bakersfield Women Business Conference and I hope Cheri will be able to make it back because she’s positive, she’s successful, she’s fun, and she (you guessed it) GET’S IT!
Thank you Cherie for a wonderful book signing.