Book signings: Oh no! or What fun!
Book signings are the joy and the bane of writers. They can be full of fun where readers, friends and family stop and chat whether they buy a book or not, and they can be long-line joyous successes where you sell so many books you go home singing I Feel Pretty.
Then there is the other kind of signing event, the lonely kind, sometimes more familiar to authors who aren’t really well-known. You can imagine what I mean if you haven’t experienced it yourself. You sit at a little table not large enough for your signs and goodies and books, smiling at everyone who walks past. Their eyes flash questioning looks; you try to look reassuring, friendly. You say, “Have you read my latest romance?” They move their children to their far side, away from the crazy woman holding up the trade paperback, and hurry them along. Or they hasten by not making eye contact. Or they stand in front of the table, blocking it from everyone else, picking up a book, putting it down. Picking it up, putting it down. Picking it… Until they walk away buying nothing. Grrrr.
I had a signing not long ago in the adorable little bookstore in my adorable little town. My day was marginally successful but I do have a few tips and one or two things I’m changing for next time.
Don’t bring chocolates. Really. I was surprised but here’s the lesson I learned. Women in my adopted hometown do not appreciate one of God’s greatest creations. Even their children walked past the basket of Kisses and Dove hearts without a backward glance. Is there something in the water here?? I mean, isn’t it un-American to pass up chocolates? It was Valentine’s Day, and what else should I have brought as an enticing treat to lure people to the table? After all, flowers are a moment’s fleeting pleasure while chocolate is forever. On the hips, at least. Anyway, next book signing, I’m bringing a crudités tray.
Speak to everyone. I think I said something to every child who passed my way and every harried mother, as well as the two elderly gentlemen who looked more like they read Civil War histories than romance. But you never know, right?
Stand and address people. The aisles in my bookstore were too narrow for me to stand in them, but if you can, stand—don’t sit—by your table, look poised and at the ready. Greet store patrons when they get close enough and jam your book in their grubby, little hands. Hard. Keep contact until they get the idea they can’t just drop it on the table again. Some potential buyers are deviously stubborn in their resistance to buying your book.
Make sure you’ve met your support team. The manager in my store is a lovely person, but she was tied up almost the whole time I was there. My support system were two wonderful high school students. Before things got busy, we chatted. Afterward, they greeted people with, “Please stop and meet our local author.” They also helped with anything I needed.
Invite every single person you know. Everyone. We have a very small family and I don’t push my books on them, believe me. But I definitely guilted them into coming to the book signing. Why? Because no one knows if your family buys your books or not, but everyone knows if you sit two hours and not a single person shows up to your book signing. You at least have to have family. Besides, it’s times like these when you really see the up side of having relatives close by. Make the most of it.
Have fun. I didn’t sell all the books I took and displayed so artfully, but I did have a good time meeting other people in town. And I had my choice of chocolates. J
Most publishers will tell you that book signings aren’t worth the time if you’re going for the big sales. That’s possibly true. I was part of a book signing a few years ago where my only customer, a man, hemmed and hawed over Your Desire for so long I finally gave him the book. How humiliating. However, greed and desire to be rich and famous aside, other aspects of book signings make them fun and worthwhile. So much so, I might schedule another one for next Saturday.
Do you have book signing stories to share? Or questions? Please comment or I’ll feel all alone, and I had enough of that on Saturday.
Letters delivered decades late send shock waves through Sara Richards’s world. Nothing is the same, especially her memories of Paul, a man to whom she’d given her heart years before. Now, sharing her secrets and mending her mistakes of the past means putting her life back together while crossing burning bridges. It will be the hardest thing Sara’s ever done.
Buy link: mybook.to/BurningBridges (KU)
Sara unpacked the sandwiches and drinks, half listening as her mother launched into a description of the bazaar her church was planning for the upcoming holidays. It was only mid-October, and her mother was thinking ahead to Christmas. What will I be doing by Christmas? Making a move to a new location for the new year or wondering what to do with the rest of my life?
She stepped to the doorway and looked at the paintings lining the walls. The cozy shop had been her focal point for more years than she cared to count. Everything would be different by the first of the year, here at the gallery and maybe at home, too. Like the leaves being whipped from the trees by the wind, the landscape of her life would look quite different in a few weeks. She only hoped it wouldn’t be as barren and cold as she feared right now.
Dan had been accepted at Northwestern! She was happy for him, but what if he wanted Paula to go with him? Paula had attended school in Charleston and then been offered a job there. Except for brief vacations, Sara and her only child had never been farther apart than those seventy miles. Charleston was far enough for Paula’s independence, yet close enough for quick visits, lunches, plays, overnight gab fests. Sara had devoted her life to her daughter and reaped the reward of knowing her child as a friend.
Oh, she was blessed, and she knew it. Blessed and spoiled. How could she bear Paula’s move to Illinois if it happened? And what if Dan and Paula decided they liked Chicago and wanted to settle so far away? A sob welled in Sara’s throat and threatened to burst. She sucked in a breath.
Right now, those were ifs not certainties. She could talk to Dan, remind him how hard law school would be with an additional person to consider. Paula could help him, sure, but she would also demand time he wouldn’t have to give. And though Paula could teach there as well as here, the expense of a second person, added to that of graduate school, could be overwhelming. Surely Dan would see the logic of Paula’s waiting for him in Charleston. He was a reasonable man.
Hearing her mother’s chuckle and response to something Paula said brought Sara to her senses. She had never purposely avoided acting like her mother. In fact, she’d often sought her mother’s advice, especially when Paula was a child. But knowing what she did now, having learned in the past twenty-four hours the heartache meddling could bring about, Sara knew she wouldn’t interfere with Dan’s and Paula’s decision.
If Paula needed arms to shield and shelter, Sara would always be there, but she would not become her mother. And today she fully realized just what that meant.
Her mother hung up the phone and settled in one of the chairs facing the desk. Sara sat in her chair behind the desk. When they had their food set out and she had taken a sip of her drink, Sara dropped her bombshell.
“I’m making reservations to fly to Iowa as soon as possible. It’s long past due for Paul’s parents to know they have a granddaughter.”
A few years ago, Dee S. Knight began writing, making getting up in the morning fun. During the day, her characters killed people, fell in love, became drunk with power, or sober with responsibility. And they had sex, lots of sex.
After a while, Dee split her personality into thirds. She writes as Anne Krist for sweeter romances, and Jenna Stewart for ménage and shifter stories. All three of her personas are found on the Nomad Authors website. Also, once a month, look for Dee’s Charity Sunday blog posts, where your comment can support a selected charity.