Thursday, August 20, 2009

Tips for Signing When You're Not Yet a Bestseller

Tips for Book Signings When You're Not Yet a Bestseller
by T. Lynn Ocean

In keeping with this month's blog theme, my 1 ½ cents worth…

Bring your own water (or vodka martinis disguised as water if you have a driver). Most booksellers take good care of visiting authors. But then there was the time I was signing at a chain store—after driving 4 hours to get there—and asked for a bottle of water. They wanted $2 and change. I had no cash. They wouldn't take a card for anything under $5. In the name of superior service, they handed me a urine-sample-sized cup of tap water.

Don't wear white. Booksellers will set up a beautiful display table complete with a tablecloth and signage and then roll out the grossest, most stained, dirtiest chair on the planet. Plus, you may have to cart your own bin of books out of the back room.

Remember your happy place and be prepared to go there. Yeah, you may have travelled at your own expense through tropical-storm strength rains for a day only to discover that the bookseller mistakenly advertised your event for the following week. Or somehow returned the supply of books they'd just ordered for your signing. Or that the annual downtown street fair ended an hour ago and all the people have gone home.

Resist the urge to retort. Just smile and be nice when shoppers make tactless/absurd comments such as, "I've never heard of you," or "Did you write these books?" or "Are they free?" Also, it's a good idea to know where the nearest public restroom is. Inquiring minds will want to know.

In all seriousness, I do love to meet and chat with readers. I think all authors do. But be forewarned: book signings can be hit or miss as far as foot traffic and book sales. If you're signing and find yourself in the midst of a 'miss', don't fret. Every signing event is an opportunity to meet the people who are your lifeline: the store owner or manager and employees. They are the people who—if they love your books—will recommend you to their customers and book clubs.

Good Luck & Sign On!T. Lynn Ocean


Anonymous said...

This was a great post and unfortunately all too familar. I've definitely been there.

A Good Blog Is Hard to Find said...
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Cathy Pickens said...

Laughed out loud! Been there, given directions to the rest room. Charged for water??!!!

T. Lynn said...

Hey, I think we've ALL been there! But you've gotta laugh and keep a good attitude -- it's all a part of the publishing biz... And yes, I really was charged for water. No kidding.

Shellie Tomlinson said...

Yes, girl, yes! We've all been there. I once had a lady put a sign up that read, "You may speak to the author without feeling obligated to buy a book" so people would quit peeking at me from a distance.