With so many great books being published, particularly at this time of year, it's difficult for a new writer to stand out from the crowd and they're often advised by their publishers to run a book signing at their local bookshop. But when they're not yet a well known name for readers, their signature is not always the draw the marketing teams claim it to be. 

A new writer in America, Chelsea Banning, found that even though almost 40 people had said they would come along to her booksigning recently, in fact only two turned up - and they were her friends. Feeling demoralised and embarrassed, Chelsea shared her anguish on social media. 

Astonishingly many hugely successful authors responded, posting with empathy and encouragement about their own experiences. Some were mistaken for shop staff, others had to give directions to the toilets, and Jonathan Coe recalled how only one person arrived at his signing at a crime festival. "I told him how glad I was that he'd come," Coe said, only to be told "Actually I'm Ian Rankin and I was supposed to be introducing you."

It's lovely that bestselling authors such as Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, David Nicholls and others were prepared to share this 'rite of passage' with the debut novelist, attracting international media attention. Though perhaps publishers could acknowledge that this isn't really always an effective or kind way for a new author to present their book to the world?!

Thank you for reading.