I'm on a book tour, helping to showcase the two new local authors I mentioned in my last column.

There's nothing as exciting as having your first book published. Like giving birth, you've put in the labor, the baby's been delivered and now it's time to send out announcements and show off the newest addition to the family.

We've already had some great events at local bookstores and libraries, and there are more to come. We've brought along wine, bookmarks and chocolate as bribes.

I'm hoping the tour continues to go smoothly. My first book tours weren't quite as good as these latest ones. In fact, the very first time I did an event, no one came, and I ended up buying four books and losing money. But I didn't have the heart to tell these new authors what my experience has been. It would only scare them off.

Here are some examples of my first book event, which was held in an unnamed chain bookstore that has since gone out of business (I don't think I had anything to do with that, but you never know).

After setting up a table and displaying my brand new book, this is what I encountered:

Possible Customer Number 1: "Where's the travel/cookbook/self-help section?" (I don't know. I don't work here.)

Possible Customer Number 2: "Does your book have anything to do with Alaska/wine-making/attention deficit hyperactivity disorder?" (No, that would be the travel section, the cookbook section or the self-help section.)

Possible Customer Number 3: "Do you know Sue Grafton/James Patterson/Carolyn Keene? I've read all their books!" (No, Sue doesn't return my calls, James has other people writing his books and Carolyn Keene doesn't exist.)

Possible Customer Number 4: "Have I ever heard of you?" (Apparently not.)

Possible Customer Number 5: "My sister's best friend's aunt has a copy of your book, so I don't need to buy it." (Great.)

Possible Customer Number 6: "How did you get published?" (I hounded an agent, editor and publisher until they gave in.)

Possible Customer Number 7: "Is this a mystery? Because I don't read mysteries." (No, it's a literary novel featuring a heroic detective, a flawed victim and a sensitive killer.)

Possible Customer Number 8: "My teacher said I had to go to a book signing for extra credit. Will you sign this form to prove I was here?" (For five bucks.)

Possible Customer Number 9: "Can I find your books on e-Bay?" (Sure. And one day you'll find me on Craig's List under "Will write for food.")

Possible Customer Number 10: "Is this free?" (Yes, the glossy bookmarks, glasses of wine, little toys, personalized pens, cute luggage tags, embossed note pads and gourmet chocolates are free ... if you buy the book.)

Possible Customer Number 11: "Will you read my manuscript?" (Will you read my book?)

Possible Customer Number 12: "Do you validate parking?" (Will you validate my life's work?)

Luckily, those days are over. No more questions about travel books, Sue Grafton or parking validation. However, I'm still losing money, since I can't get out of a bookstore without buying my weight in books.

Penny Warner is the author of more than 50 books. For more information or to reach her, visit www. pennywarner.com.

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