Thursday, July 18, 2013
What's the point of a book signing?
Tomorrow, July 19, I'll be at Martha Merrell's Books and Cafe from 6 Pm until dark doing a book signing outside during Historic Downtown Waukesha's "Friday Night Live."
I've done a few book signings since 2010 when Dream in Color came out and I've enjoyed them all, sometimes for very different reasons.
While I've always enjoyed being out and about and talking to complete strangers, I've found in the last several years, that doing things, especially things that demand I be social, has become more and more difficult. I blame it on my job, or on my health, but it's another thing I add to my list of battles as I age.
Doing a book signing, especially one where you're not a New York Times best seller, is different from any other public speaking because it's all on you to move that product. And the people who stop at an author's table tend to fall into a few different categories:
1) Some people are readers and they will talk to you a little about your books and then buy them. I like those kinds of folks.
2) Some people want to know if you will share you candy. (Book signing tip: have candy at your table.) This is an opening for you to talk about your books. I like those folks as long as they don't let their kids clean you out.
3) Some people like the idea of books, and really like the idea of meeting someone who strung a bunch of words together in a cohesive fashion, but they really aren't the book buying or the book reading type. Those are the ones who will, while you're sitting for inches away from them, say, "Well, I'll wait until my sister finishes reading her copy of your book. I'll get it from her." While I applaud their attempt to conserve paper by sharing books...hey, this is what I do! Pull $10 out of your wallet and support the arts!
4) Some people are just stuck on the sidewalk in front of your table. Their waiting for their friend to get out of the restroom or something. These are the people who will pick up your book and say, "Oh, you wrote a book? I don't read." I have no response for that.
Do I sell a ton of books at book signings? Not really. So why do it?
Every author needs to be able to pitch their book in 30 words or less. I haven't quite perfected the art of the "elevator pitch." Book signings help me focus and hone a synopsis of each book down to a few sentences. Even if I don't sell a ton of books, it's a great exercise to strengthen my promotional muscles.
Every author should be ready and able to talk about their books to anyone. It's taken me several years, but I've finally come out of the literary closet and I can tell people, "I'm an author. Buy my books" without feeling weird.
So tomorrow, Friday, I'll be sitting in a chair outside Martha Merrell's. (Unless it's raining. Then I'll be inside.) I hope to see you all there!