Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, and dozens of other famous authors shared stories of their worst book signing disasters to comfort an up-and-coming author

Margaret Atwood at book event
Margaret Atwood holds court at an event.Jeremychanphotography
  • Debut novelist Chelsea Banning vented about an ill-attended book signing on Twitter.

  • Her thread drew commiseration from a who's-who of literary greats, including Cheryl Strayed and Jodi Picoult.

  • The attention has vaulted Banning's novel up Amazon's best sellers list for Arthurian Fantasy.

For debut author Chelsea Banning, an ill-attended book signing may have turned out to be a big break.

Banning, whose debut book is titled "Of Crowns and Legends" – a fantasy novel following two of King Arthur's twins as war looms – vented on Twitter yesterday about her first-ever signing event. She shared that while 37 people had RSVP'd, only two showed up. "Kind of upset, honestly," the Ohio-based librarian tweeted, "and a little embarrassed."

It was a sentiment that resonated with writers of all sizes and genres, inspiring some of literature's most prominent names – including Neil Gaiman, Jodi Picoult, Cheryl Strayed, and Margaret Atwood – to share their own humbling experiences of book signings gone awry.

"Terry Pratchett and I did a signing in Manhattan for 'Good Omens' that nobody came to at all," wrote Gaiman. "So you are two up on us."

"I have sat lonely at a signing table many times only to have someone approach…and ask me where the bathroom is," added Picoult.

"Join the club," said Atwood. "I did a signing to which nobody came, except a guy who wanted to buy some Scotch tape and thought I was the help."

Other writers who commiserated included the journalist-turned-author Mark Harris, comic fantasyist Christopher Moore, Korean-American novelist Min Jin Lee, humorist and NPR host Peter Sagal, and the Irish writer Sheila O'Flanagan.

Even actor Henry Winkler chimed in:


In addition to Banning's circle of support on Twitter, the attention strengthened sales for "Of Crowns and Legends," which came out in August but has now vaulted to the No. 2 spot on Amazon's best sellers list for Arthurian Fantasy.

"I shared my vulnerability, which doesn't happen a lot on social media," Banning told Insider of the overwhelming response. "Especially with how rampant imposter syndrome is with writers, sharing the downs with the ups shows that we all go through them and we share similar struggles."

"I've had a few invites to events already," she said of future plans, where she's bound to garner a healthier headcount. "So we will see what the future holds."

Read the original article on Insider