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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Monday, October 23, 2006

Booksignings...Or A Glance Into Hell

Jill Monroe

It was almost two years ago when my best friend had her first booksigning. We went to lunch in the mall, then headed upstairs bookstore.

"Are you excited?" I asked.


I know I looked confused. This is what we'd been waiting for. My own first booksigning was only a few months away.

Now I'm a booksigning veteran. I'm usually all excited before the booksigning is about to begin. But as I sit behind the desk and drag out my promo stuff and favorite pen, it suddenly hits me, once again, why I dread booksignings. It's a level of embarassment I'd never known before.

Forget the usual of people asking you where the bathroom in (always know this info ahead of time) or who want to know where a special book is (authors often get confused with bookstore staff - maybe they think it's an info desk?).

There are the people who spot you, then snap their head forward, desperatly trying not to make eye contact with you.

There are the people who do come and talk with you...only to ask if your book is crap.

The truth of the matter is booksignings are awkward. I don't have that sales instinct. There's a large stack of books (why did the bookstore order 24?) which you know will be stripped and the only sale you made was the pity buy from your critique partner.

But see a ray of light. Your mom and some of her friends who've known you since you were little walk into the store. So does your aunt. Then there are the members of your local RWA chapter who couldn't be more excited for you. Some of the members bring people browsing in the bookstore over to your table. Suddenly you're having fun. You're feeling like an author.

Here are a few tips I've learned on having a more successful signing.

1. Let everyone know. Family, friends but don't spend too much money. Usually one sale would be the same amount in royalty as you would spend on a postcard and stamp - so stick to as many free ways such as newsletters, e-mails, phone calls as you can.

2. Sign with someone else. Believe me, this feels SO MUCH BETTER than signing alone. But stick to only one person. A long line of authors can be intimidating to a potential reader who may have the $4.75 for your book, but not the 36 bucks for every author down the line.

3. If a buyer wants their book personalized, have a scrap piece of paper and write their name on it first. I get a little flustered when people are reciting their name to me and I'm using a Sharpie. I've found reading their name off the paper prevents mistakes...and there's nothing worse than something misspelled on a personalization.

4. Have candy. As people pass by you can offer them some candy and then you have something to talk about.

5. Talk table behavior at RWA chapter meetings. Chaptermates are really good at bringing readers to an author's table, but one thing I've noticed is that they'll often chat with each other in front of the author's table, blocking any passersby from seeing you. Chatting is great because it's always fun and makes many curious about what is going on and want to get in on the fun, it just needs to be behind the author table.

6. Have a bookmark available. Okay, it doesn't have to be a bookmark, but booksellers have told me many times that people will often come back AFTER the author leaves to buy your book. Come to find out - readers can feel just as awkward at a booksigning as the author!

7. Always thank the bookseller, and ask if they would like you to sign stock.

To read about my first booksigning experiences go here, here and here.


At 11:13 AM, Blogger Gena Showalter said...

This is excellent advice!!! Also, perhaps, take life size cardboard cut out of sexy men. Just a thought!

At 9:15 PM, Blogger Diane Perkins said...

I agee with Gena (Hi, Gena!) this is excellent advice, Jill.

I'm going to do a signing in Dec with my Christmas novella and my pal and Critique partner Darlene Gardner is signing her Christmas novella too, so we will sit together and make a big deal about having Christmas books.

I've done several signings now, with varying results. The worst one was when I sold only one book. My sister and two of my very good friends stopped by and not even they bought a book!

I love bookmarks for this reason. I can always smile and give a bookmark.


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