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"I couldn't agree more with your tips - they're fabulous! If all (especially up-and-coming) authors did these things, their book signings would rock! I especially liked the tip about bringing gifts for the CRC (Heh! Heh!). I hope more authors find this page - it's extremely useful and practical, and would help authors and event coordinators (and customers and book stores and sales!) alike."

Colleen Holt, Community Relations/Event Coordinator,
Borders® Books•Music•Cafe, Baileys Crossroads, VA

40+ Ways to Make Your Next
Book Signing an EVENT!!

Larry James

(Revised - June 18, 2020)

Here are some tips and suggestions that have helped me increase the number of books sold at a book signing. Many are my own, and some were suggested by other author friends. Each book store has it's own distinctive personality. While I do not attempt to do all of the suggested tips at every signing, it is important to adapt as many as you can to fit each store's personality. Believe me, doing so will increase the opportunity to sell more books.

DO - Write your own announcement for the book stores intercom. Make it short and brief. Give them several versions because they usually announce that you are there several times. Don't hesitate to remind them to make the announcement again if it's been awhile since the last announcement. They often will get busy and forget. Every half hour should do it. If you do lectures or give speeches about your book and are in town for a keynote or seminar that is open to the public, include information about that too. Let the book store choose to include it in the announcement or not. Better yet, offer to make the announcement over the loudspeaker yourself. Most event coordinators at bookstores do not have skills at public speaking.

DON'T - Don't just sit at the table they have for you. Most authors do that. Be different! Reach out and touch someone! Don't wait for them to come to you. I always tell the person booking the signing not to worry about putting a chair behind the table. This will always get their attention. Let them know you will be the store's official greeter while you are there. Walk around the store with several copies of your book and introduce yourself to everyone.

Request at least a dozen books for your table to illustrate you have plenty available. If those you introduce yourself to show the least bit of interest, hand them a book. They will almost always take it. Tell them to look at it and bring it back to the table when they are finished. On average, I more than tripled my book sales at signings by implementing this tip!

DO - Have an attractive four-color bookmark designed by a graphic artist and print thousands of them. You can give them to everyone who comes in the store. List a few endorsements on it as well as a brief paragraph of what the book is about. Leave your contact information off. Put the price and the ISBN on. Book stores often have their own bookmarks and are reluctant to have you give yours out if they think their customer is going to you direct. (I use a red rubber stamp to imprint my website address on the reverse side of the bookmarks I give out in the store, but not on the bookmarks I "leave" at the book store.)

I often will sign a bookmark for someone who lingers at my table but does not buy my book. Remember your mission: "Spread good will!" Many people will come back to the store and buy your book after you have left. Send the book store several hundred bookmarks and suggest that they include them in the bags of people who buy books before your book signing.

  • BONUS TIP #1:  I include bookmarks for all three of my relationship books plus a business card in every piece of correspondence that leaves my office. The utility companies send statement stuffers to you, so why not send one back? When paying bills, slip in several of your bookmarks along with your check.

  • BONUS TIP #2:  When junk mail arrives, keep the "postage-paid" envelope and throw everything else away. I had tiny notes printed that say,

    "You were kind enough to send us your stuff. . . professional speaker, author & relationship coach, Larry James invites you to check out his stuff at www.CelebrateLove.com, a site designed to help you fit the pieces of the relationship puzzle together in a healthy way."

    Next, I paperclip the note to several of my bookmarks and drop their "postage-paid" envelope in the mail on my next mail run. Hey! Why not? It only takes a minute and "they" are paying for the postage!

DO - If you are on a tight budget, use your printer to print out some mini-flyers on white paper. Include your book cover image, a brief description about the book, a brief author bio and customize them with the book store's name, address and phone number at the bottom. 3 or 4-up on an 8 1/2 x 11 page works well. Cut them on your paper cutter and you're ready to go. You can also hand out reprints of excerpts from your book or articles with your contact info on the bottom. Remember to include the copyright info.

DO - Four-color postcards which feature your book covers OR the home page on your website are great give-aways. Click here for a great postcard resource.

DO - Get to know the "Community Relations Coordinator" (CRC). They are the ones who will book you again if they like you. I've been back to the same Barnes and Noble store three times in the last 9 months in the Phoenix area.

DO - Send the person who booked the signing a brief "thank you" note. I'm told that authors seldom do this. I've had several people call me to thank me for sending the note.

DO - Write a follow up commendation letter to the CRC's manager as a fantastic way to thank and build good relations with both the CRC, the book store and you.

"I just wanted to let you know you SAVED my life! I am a new author, and I am having my first book signing very soon. I had no idea what to expect from it, but you gave me the blocks I needed. I feel so much better now that I read your BookSigningTips. Thank you very much."

Suzanne Kraus-Mancuso
Author, Shirley Temple Identification & Price Guide

DO - Remember to call at least two months in advance if you want to be included in their in-store flyer.

DO - Go to Kinko's and have your book covers enlarged in color to an 11 x 17 poster, laminate them and have them put them on a poster type board with a stand up thing on the back. Always bring them with you to the signings! Anything else you can think of to call attention to your table is also GREAT!

DO - Ask them for a media list (radio, TV, etc.). Some don't have them, but the ones who do will usually share it or tell you where to get it. It makes calling the radio and TV stations easier. If they don't have a media list, ask them which stations they would recommend that might be interested in an interview. When they know you are also doing stuff to promote the signing, usually they do more too!

DO - Ask for a community list, i.e., Chamber of Commerce, Society of the Arts, etc. Send them a news release about your book signing (and seminar or keynote, if applicable). You never know where your speaking engagements may come from. Check first with your meeting planner to get permission, then add a personal note to the news release inviting them to come and hear you speak. (You do accept speaking engagements to talk about your book topic, don't you?).

DO - Although most book stores will send a news release about your book signing, send your own as well. This increases the chance of getting coverage. Send it at least two to three weeks in advance to all media within a 50 mile radius. Include a photograph of yourself and a book cover. Tell all about your book, yourself and if you are doing a talk instead of just a book signing, include your topic title and a little bit about it. Include your phone number and the contact person, address and phone number of the book store. Editors often will call you or the store for more information.

One more thing. Always "confirm" that the book store will send a news release to the media. I make a note to call them at least "three" weeks before the signing to remind them and make sure they are going to send it. Most media require receipt of a news release at least two weeks prior to an event. I no longer will do book signings at stores who are not willing to send news releases about my book signing.

DO - Send postcards made from your extra book covers (you did have extra covers printed, didn't you?) and make phone calls to friends, acquaintances, business associates and club affiliates and anyone who might be interested in attending your presentation or signing.

DO - Call the radio and TV stations no less than a month in advance and request an interview the week of the signing. Send them a news release about your book signing. Give them a special invitation to attend your book signing and if you are in town to do a keynote or seminar, invite them to attend at no charge. Remember to send them a promotional copy of your book.

DO - Put several of your books "face-out" when they aren't looking! I often will also put the books of my author friends "face-out."

DO - Send them your endorsements. Print them in an attractive large font and on a white piece of paper. They will often use them on posters, etc. Also send several book "covers." Request that they put up a special display, including poster, at least a week in advance of the signing. Most do, but it doesn't hurt to ask.

Send your picture (color is best) to join the book cover on the poster. Sometimes they use it, some times they don't. At least it gives them an option. Offer to send any additional information they may need.

DO - Talk to people. Many people think because you wrote a book, you are unapproachable. Prove them wrong. It builds relationships. Be exceedingly FRIENDLY! Book signings are no place to be shy.

DO - Ask the manager how many books they would like for you to sign before you leave so they will have some on hand. NOTE: Generally speaking, they cannot return any books you sign, so always ask! If the signing went well or even if it didn't, and you impressed the manager, they will usually have you sign a bunch before you leave.

"60 Books in 2 Hours! - I recently utilized many of your tips for David Fleming and Samantha Storms' first book signing for their illustrated children's book, "Miss Mouse's House." The book store owners were blown away by the success of the signing. Another book store owner came and was so impressd by the book and the event that she asked the author and illustrator to appear at her store. Thank you for providing the tips."

Kara Fleming, VP, Children's Book Division
Country Place Books

DO - Bring a camera and have your picture taken with the manager or Community Relations Specialist and other key people in the store. If you want to call attention to yourself, pay attention to other people. Most people don't do this. You may want to use several of the photos in publicity in the future.

To take this idea a step further. . . make sure your book is in the picture! Next, buy an inexpensive frame, and mail the photo in the frame along with a handwritten, personal note suggesting they hang the picture in a conspicuous place in the store. You might also suggest that they start an "Authors Photo Wall (or Hall) of Fame." The Community Relations Specialist will be more than happy to have their picture with you hanging in the store and you and your book will get more frequent recognition.

DO - Have a Polaroid or Digital camera handy at your table. When someone buys your book say, "Let's have our picture taken together!" Have someone from the store take a picture of you and your new customer. Give it to them and sign and date the back of the picture. Suggest they use it for a book mark. This increases the odds that your book AND the picture will become more of a conversation piece.

Someone suggested taking a picture with a digital camera, getting their e-mail address and asking permission to send them the picture by e-mail. This will also help build your e-mailing list for future book announcements or for your eZINE.

DO - To help call attention to my book "Red Hot LoveNotes for Lovers," I put a crystal bowl on the table and fill it with small, individually wrapped packages of "Red Hots." Dove chocolates are another favorite. People will stop and read the book poster (while they are unwrapping the candy) and look over your book marks and books. Ask them if you can take the wrapper. . . Contact!

Another variation of this idea is to have custom-made fortune cookies made with a brief, clever saying relating to your book on one side of the fortune inside and your book title and website on the other.

DO - Have a local printer make a small booklet (3 or 4 pages) featuring the first chapter or excerpts from your book and hand them out at your signing. Ask their name and sign the booklet. Remember to list your name, address, 800 & local numbers, your e-mail address and your website.

DO - If you are in town for a keynote or seminar, bring some seminar flyers to hand out. It doesn't have to be fancy, just who, how, what, when and where will do! Invite the Community Relations person to attend your seminar for free. Many won't take the time to come, but it's a nice touch!

DO - Have copies of reader's reviews available at your table. Hand them to anyone who shows the least bit of interest in your book and say, "Here's what other people who have read my books have to say." Make extra copies for give-aways. One of my books is called, "LoveNotes for Lovers," so I say, "Here are some LoveNotes from some of the people who have read my books." When someone begins to read the reviews, remain quiet. Amazon.com is a good source when people post impartial reviews of your book. Most people hold Amazon.com in high regard. If no reviews are posted, send the link to your book to your friends and encourage them to post reviews.

DO - Have extra copies of of your book cover printed and have a stack available at your table. Make sure everyone leaves the book store with a giant book cover "postcard." Ask them to mail it to a friend. Be sure you sign the book cover whether they buy your book or not. They also make great follow-up "postcards" if you have a guest book at your signing table that asks for an address.

DO - Call the local newspaper and request that someone come and take pictures for the "feature article" you will also request. Suggest that they interview the book store manager or community relations person. If they like you, they will almost always say great things you and your book.

I did this at a signing in Topeka, KS (my former hometown) and even though the article came out after I left, it was great PR, the store loved it, and follow-up sales were great. Remember to send them a promotional copy of your book.

DO - Get there no less than 15 to 20 minutes early and if you can, stay late. At a signing in Tucson, I sold more books in the extra 30 minutes after the signing than in the previous two hours.

DON'T - Don't complain if you don't sell lots of books. You must realize that signings and book readings or presentations will rarely exceed your expectations and hardly ever meet your highest goals. Signings make those who bought your book feel good, but they generally don't sell lots of books while you are there, UNLESS you create a presence WHILE YOU ARE THERE!

I've sold as few as "none" to as many as 56 in a two hour period. According to book store managers, on average, book sales for a non-celebrity author will range from about 4 to 7. If you sell more, you're doing great!

DON'T - Don't show your disappointment if you don't sell very many books. It only creates bad will. Book signings and presentations will rarely exceed your expectations. The Community Relations Cordinator (CRC) will often be apologetic if the response wasn't good. This is your chance to thank them for the opportunity and ask for another book signing in the near future. Nuff said!

"As a former publicity director at Doubleday, Villard and Morrow, I didn't think there was much I didn't know about book signings. However your piece on "40+ Ways to Make Your Next Book Signing an Event" had a few new pointers for me. Thanks. I'm writing to ask if I may quote a few items from your article in my book."

Jacqueline Deval, Publisher
Hearst Books

DO - Talk about other author's books; authors you know. I have a story in A 2nd Helping of Chicken Soup For the Soul and always ask the manager to put those books on the table too. I sign on page 18 under my name. I know my friends Mark Victor Hansen and Jack Canfield, the "Chicken Soup" guys, don't need my help, but the customers love it! My dear friend, Greg Godek's book, 1001 Ways to Be Romantic often shows up on my table. He mentions one of my books in several of his books.

DO - Plan to give something away (anything except your book - you want them to buy that). Have them sign a "guest book" or "free drawing" card with their name, complete mailing address (e-mail address, too) and phone number to qualify. Announce the winner at the end of your book signing. People love the idea of a chance to win something free, and it often causes them to linger in the store longer.

DO - Print out a small "Recommended Reading" list. List several catagories and make sure your book and website are listed in the first topic. Sign beside your book title and name to call attention to it. Don't be afraid to list other competing titles. If you publish an eZINE be sure to offer a FREE subscription at the bottom of the list.

DO - Don't have an e-mailing list? Start one! You'll be glad you did. Consider sending an "opt-in" eZINE on a monthly basis to your e-mailing list. Design a special sign-up sheet (name, address, e-mail and phone number) for those who may be interested in receiving your eZINE.

DO - Come bearing gifts! Give the community relations person (or the person who booked the signing) a rose, small bunch of flowers or a tiny box of chocolates. They will not forget YOU! Dan Maddux, CEO of the American Payroll Association advises: "If it has your name on it, it's not a gift; it's promotional material." It's good to remember that.

DO - If you are coming from out of town, always call to let them know you have arrived.

DO - Talk to the community relations person and request a brief meeting with their employees prior to the signing to very quickly give an overview of your book so they can be aware and help sell it when people ask for that kind of book.

DO - I am a professional speaker as well as an author. If there is a book publishing association or National Speakers Association chapter or similar organization in the city of the signing, let them know you will be in town. Attend their meeting. If you know enough ahead of time, request to be on the program.

DO - Instead of doing "just a book signing," arrange to give a brief talk or presentation. Remember to check with the store prior to your presentation to make sure they have the area for the talk set up prior to you arriving. Will you need a microphone? Lectern?

Prepare handouts for your presentation. It could be an article you've written, a report, a sample chapter, a recipe or anything that relates to your book. Remember to list all your contact information and especially your website.

Provide a camera-ready promotional sheet and seminar announcement that booksellers can print 2-up on an 8 1/2" x 11" paper. Include a small section of companion books; two or three books that are similar to yours that you recommend reading. In the seminar, refer to those books as you discuss your own book. Pick your book up and read from it. Suggest that the bookseller display your book, and companion books on a special table along with a plastic stand to hold your promotional sheet.

Provide a 2 to 3 sentence mini-review or endorsement of the books you recommend and include your name and book title after the review. Make them available in printed form and suggest that the booksellers tape them to the shelves where those books are displayed. Be sure to remember to make one for your own book with someone else's endorsement or review.

  • BONUS TIP #1:  Here is a sample endorsement: 

    "Ian Percy is one of my favorite 'Top 10' speakers. His words are sprinkled with the flavor of passion; the ingredient that can inspire us to intergrate more spirituality into our personal lives and our relationships. The 7 Secrets to a Life of Meaning is highly recommended." - Larry James, CelebrateLove.com, Speaker, Relationship Coach and Author of "How to Really Love the One You're With."

  • BONUS TIP #2:  Write reviews for authors and give them permission to use them in their promotional materials. Reviews sell books, create buzz, affect future reviews and provide flap copy. Writing a review for someone else, gets you publicity! My book reviews are on the front and back covers of numerous other author's books.

    Take your time. Use a Thesaurus. Make it a grrreat one! You don't have to ask permission. . . just do it. Because of a review I wrote recently, I was asked to write the forward for the book, "25 Words or Less."

    Shameless self-promotion?  Perhaps.  AND. . . it gives you and your book great publicity! I always end my review with - Larry James, CelebrateLove.com, Speaker, Relationship Coach and Author of "How to Really Love the One You're With."

DO - When people stop by your autograph table, as you are introducing yourself, hand them a copy of your book. Many people will not pick up your book, but most will take it if you hand it to them. If they begin to read it, that's your cue to keep quiet. My book sales at back of the room and at book signings have increased significantly since using this tip.

"While I was surfing the net I found your article on "40+ Ways to Make Your Next Book Signing an Event." Your article has made things so much more clearer than any I've read to date. It not only sounds interesting, but also fun."

Brenda Marlene Woolsey, Author

DO - If you have a laptop computer, make arrangements with the book store for a phone line to the book signing table. Often a 25 foot phone extension wire from Radio Shack will work. (I bring my own). Display your computer in a prominent area and invite customers to interact with your website while you sign their book. ALWAYS hand them something with your URL printed on it. This is a sure-fire attention getter!

DO - Communicate with the book store by writing on postcards that show your book cover OR have numerous extra book covers printed and use the front part of the cover as an oversized postcard. While they do require extra postage, they keep your book in front of them as a constant reminder!

DO - Always place a stack of your books at the check-out. Ask the cashier to remind anyone who shows an interest in your book that you are in the book store and will be happy to personally sign it.

DO - Ever have a signing and there is no poster telling the store's customers you were going to be there, or no publicity in the newspaper, or the store didn't remember you were coming, or they forget to order extra books? Whatever you request the CRC to do, very tactfully print an itemized list for them to follow. Print a checklist for yourself containing these items so you can follow-up with your contact and make sure each item is accomplished prior to the book signing.

Double-check to be sure the store plans to design posters and flyers to advertise your signing. If not, do this yourself and deliver them to the store at least a week in advance of the event. I have saved several book signings from disaster by always having an extra box of books in the trunk of my car in case their book order didn't arrive in time or they forgot to order. In one case, the CRC was so embarrassed that she let "me" sell the books I brought and keep all the profit.

DO - Attend other author's book signings! When they have a spare moment, introduce yourself. Find out what works for them and what doesn't. Exchange tips. Print out this list and give it to them (a little shameless self-promotion for me, eh?).

DO - Ask the person who books the signings to write up a recommendation of your book and put it and the book in the "Staff Recommends" section of the store. Barnes & Noble have these as do some independents. Some stores also have a "Local Authors" section. Be sure your book is displayed there in your hometown book stores.

DO - MOST IMPORTANT: Have FUN! Let people know you are there to have fun, even if you don't sell any books. The manager of the store often feels worse than you do, because they are afraid you won't come back. Have fun! Create attention!

Some final words: It is important for you to understand that the purpose of book signings is not necessarily to sell books, but to make the book store customers AWARE of your books.

"Nothing in my research for promotion has been so thorough as your ideas for book signings. Thank you!"

Millie Edison, Author

Another important point to understand is that books DO NOT sell themselves! People SELL books! It's equally important to spend some of your time at your signing to smooze with the people who take the money from the customers who buy your books. Get to know the staff at the book store. THEY can help you continue to sell your books LONG AFTER you have gone!

Book signings are an opportunity to build relationships with the book sellers. I consider book signings as an opportunity to SELL the book sellers on recommending MY books when someone asks for a good relationship book!

On several occasions, after handing the booksellers my 4-color book marks and telling them a little about myself and my books, the booksellers have actually bought signed copies of my books. If I happen to sell and sign a few books to their customers while I am there. . . I am grateful! I consider that a BONUS!

DO - Make arrangements to have the book displayed at the cash register. Most book stores have plastic book stands for this. Hand the manager a book and ask "How about displaying this one on the counter by the cash register to remind buyers that the author is here?" You might want to print up a small bookmark type sign that says, "Buy this book between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. today and have author Larry James personally sign it for you. Ask for details."

Several more things. . . as an author you should ALWAYS sign your books, even if you sell or give them to your friends or trade books with other authors. (I believe your friends should BUY your books to help support you in your author efforts.) Some people are too shy to ask for your autograph. Sign it anyway! Simply ask, "Here, let me sign that for you. Whose name would you like in it?" Always ask.

Never assume the book is for them. In the beginning, I wasted several books by assuming that the book was for them. I also always ask for the correct spelling. Even John can be spelled, "Jon;" "Kelly: Keli, Kellie, Kelley, etc." If you sell your book by mail order be sure to include a blank on your order form for the person's name to which the book should be signed. Remind them to PRINT the name. I also ask if they would like for me to write a date under my signature. Many people like to remember when they met you.

Authors often trade books with other authors. Remember to sign your books to them and ask them to return the favor.

"Just wanted to take a moment to tell you how often I refer to your wonderful suggestions for book signings and book promotion, and to thank you for sharing them so generously. Your suggestions are simple to follow, innovative, and relatively painless. I am grateful!"

Jayne Jaudon Ferrer, Author
Dancing with my Daughter: Poems of Love, Wisdom, and Dreams and A Mother of Sons: Poems of Love, Wisdom, & Dreams

DO - Ask the Community Relations Coordinator to make up some "Author Personalization Slips" (1/4 page sheets of paper with your photo and/or book cover on them with a message that says: "If you would like for (the author's name) to personalize your book for you, please PRINT the name you would like inscribed below." This will speed up the process and help keep you from having to ask, "What name would you like in the book?" or "What is the correct spelling?"

Come up with a special way of signing your name every time you sign your books. For many years, I have signed books, "(their name), Celebrate Love! Larry James." I always mention that my website is CelebrateLove.com; that there are lots of relationship articles there and I would love to hear from them by e-mail telling me what they thought of my book. I also add, "If you like it, please tell your friends."

Adding something special like, "Happy Birthday," or "Happy Anniversary," etc., will also make them very proud to show the book to their friends. Signed books are treasured much more than non-signed books!

Copyright © 2001-2004 - Larry James. Larry James is a professional speaker and author of "How to Really Love the One You're With: AffirmativeGuidelines for a Healthy Love Relationship," "LoveNotes for Lovers: Words That Make Music for Two Hearts Dancing!" and "Red Hot LoveNotes for Lovers." Larry is available for "Author & Speaker" coaching at http://www.CelebrateLove.com/authorcaoching.htm. He can be reached at: Larry James, CelebrateLove.com, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. 800-725-9223.
E-mail: LarryJames@CelebrateLove.com
WebSite: http://www.CelebrateLove.com

NOTE: This article is available for reprint in magazines, periodicals, newsletters, newspapers, eZINEs, on the Internet or on your own website. Click here to obtain permission and for details.

"You'll be happy to know that we use your book signing tips page extensively. We have a department solely dedicated to helping authors schedule book signings, and we always refer your page to authors whenever they have questions about what they can do to make their book signing better."

Patrick M. East
Assistant Director of Planning and Communication

"We are first time authors and we are waiting for our first book to be printed in about three weeks. We have co-authored a book, entitled, "Fading Glory - Contributing Factors to the Decline of America's Public Schools". I am a retired Principal and my daughter is currently working as an assistant principal. While surfing the net, we ran across your web page "Booksigning Tips from Larry James" and It was so helpful since we are now trying to set up our first book signing. We want to personally thank you for sharing and for just helping others, like my daughter and me, and people who have just run across your web page. We cannot say enough. This is is great!"

Dr. Earnestine Garner and Dr. Kim Garner , Author
Fading Glory - Contributing Factors to the Decline of America's Public Schools

Authors and publishers can receive "Publishers Weekly" each day (FREE to your e-mail box). You can subscribe at:

(A special "Thank You" to Gwen Henson, Executive Director of The Arizona Book Publishing Association for this great bonus tip!

Post your book signings at NetRead.com's EventCaster for FREE! They broadcast literary events to event editors at newspapers and web sites that subscribe to this free service.

"As a marketing consultant (and former CRM at Barnes & Noble), I agree wholeheartedly with your advice! It's amazing how many authors assume that everyone will want to talk to them just because they've written a book! If only they would use even three or four tips that you shared they could see a big difference in their results."

Marlys K. Arnold, www.imagespecialist.com

back Authors & Speakers Articles MENU Authors/Speakers - Part 1next

Relationship books by Larry James:

How to Really Love the One You're With:
Affirmative Guidelines for a Healthy Love Relationship

LoveNotes for Lovers:
Words That Make Music for Two Hearts Dancing

Red Hot LoveNotes for Lovers (Career Assurance Press).

Author Larry James is a professional speaker. He presents "Relationship Enrichment LoveShops" nationally for singles and couples. More About Larry James

For a personally autographed copy of Larry's books, or for more information, please contact:

Larry James
P.O. Box 12695
Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695

480 205-3694
E-Mail: LarryJames@CelebrateLove.com E-mail:

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