Monday, 1/15/01 - Orlando, FL
Woke up very early and headed to Camping World to get my sewer pipe fixed now that the tanks were empty. And of course, I wasn't going to pass up a chance to do a little shopping at this RVers mecca.
The sewer pipe repair cost less than $100, and I kept my shopping to about the same. I just couldn't resist things like one of those maps that you stick on the side of your RV and then stick on the states as you visit them.
Alison picked me up from Camping World, and we took her car to Orlando, Berts in tow.
I mentioned to Alison about my quest to see the college that Frank Lloyd Wright designed, and she agreed to help me find it since we had plenty of time before my first bookstore appearance.
We turned off at Exit 18 off of I-4, followed the first sign for the college, then watched for another sign. Nothing. Since we had more time, I finally suggested we stop off at a gas station. I'm glad we did, because at that very intersection, we were supposed to turn left to get to the college, a fact that was the best kept secret because there wasn't a single sign pointing out the right direction.
We took the turn and within a minute, saw the campus up ahead. We spent the next hour walking around an exquisite college campus (Southern Florida College), marveling at the details and the architectural design of the brilliant Lloyd Wright. And I took a lot of photographs. Mission Accomplished!
Our first booktour stop was Books-A-Million. Right away, we knew something was amiss when we saw a huge Books-A-Million on the main road but realized that I was actually signing books at another Books-A-Million which we couldn't find at first. After calling the store several times, we finally found it buried inside a shopping mall about a mile from the bigger store.
Needless to say, several women went to the wrong Books-A-Million but no one told them there was another store nearby so they never showed up to see us. Everyone thought my RV had broken down. Meanwhile, I was in International-Land, that is, every customer in the mall was from another country and very few of them spoke English. How was I going to sell my book - which was written in English - to people who did not speak English?
After an hour and a half of people speaking everything from Portuguese to Chinese walked by me, smiling but not stopping, I finally asked the store manager what thought I should do. He then told me that another author had walked up to customers and talked to them about his book and sold eleven copies.
Why hadn't he told me this before? I was crazy enough to walk up to total strangers to sell my book, but now that I realized I could do it, the only people who walked into the store were six Chinese teenagers (male) who were looking for Harry Potter collectibles. Needless to say, I didn't sell a single book. "Don't worry about it," said the store manager, "Dave Barry was here, and he's famous, but he only sold four books." Comforting, thanks.
Next stop: Borders. But first, we had a seafood buffet dinner. I'm stunned and amazed by these buffet restaurants. If you've heard that Americans overeat, you get to see it at buffets. Alison even pointed out that the seats are really far away from the booths. The better to fit after pigging out after an all-you-can-eat meal. Yikes!
Borders had a nice setup for me in the middle of their store, but the turnout was small. I later found out that while the location of the store was convenient for the Webgrrls chapter leader who had suggested it, it was far from the homes of all the rest of the Webgrrls and only one other showed up (a woman who recently moved to Orlando from Seattle). Four men did take a seat and stayed for my entire presentation, but left without buying a book.
Ah, life of an author on the road. Alison felt bad about the poor turnout in Orlando, but I assured her that, unless you're Danielle Steele or Tom Clancy, you're lucky to get anyone to your signings. So far, I had been averaging 15-20 people which, in the bookstore world, is considered a success. I was just grateful to be able to do a booktour and to have Alison's help to make it happen.
We drove back to Camping World that night, picked up the RV and headed back to Alison's place.
Tuesday, 1/16/01 - Drive to Atlanta
I woke up early and got on the road by 7:30am to head for Atlanta. I knew I had at least 6 hours of driving ahead of me and that I had to make it in one day because I had just scheduled a taping with CNN the next morning. They were going to send a crew to my campground to film me!
So Tuesday ended up being about eleven hours on the road - several of those hours being breakfast and lunch breaks and gasoline stops. When I arrived at KOA Atlanta North, they had a welcome sign up in the registration office saying "Welcome - Aliza Sherman, RVGirl.com." That was exciting!
KOA is now an official sponsor of my booktour, and over the next six months, I will be teaching Internet workshops at some of their campgrounds and will stay at KOA whenever possible.
I spent the evening cleaning the RV, getting it ready for a camera crew.