PLEASE NOTE: Re-posting this blog for the new followers and those who have not read this post before and also the fact that I am buried under edits and revisions.
I hope you enjoy it. 🙂
The Year I Popped my Book Signing Cherry
This was it—the print run of my first novel was hot off the press and it was time for some old-fashioned promotion. I headed for a vacation and a book signing in the state that gave us Mickey Mouse, the Golden Girls and hopefully the breaking story on the ten o’clock news of a Canadian author needing assistance for crowd control for the hundreds of romance readers, clamoring to get their own autographed copy of my book.
The latter did actually happen—in my dreams.
During the flight I had envisioned line-ups of avid and excited readers, chants and a harried book store manager in a panic, because we’d run out of books—all 1,000 of them. I had rehearsed my smile, my version of the royal wave and witty answers to the myriad of questions the readers were dying to ask.
Turns out the book store was a literary boutique located near a university and filled with sleek, stylish furniture, complete with a wine bar.
And NO romance section.
After a few anxiety induced minutes, I managed to crush the urge to run away and instead decided to make the most of the situation. I put on my game-face and mentally prepared to pave the way to lure literazzi type readers, Deepak Chopra and Anthony Robbins fans into the romance genre.
I know what you’re thinking—that I was in total denial to the realities of this competitive business. Denial gets a really bad rap by self-help gurus, but personally, I’ve found it helpful at times.
This was definitely one of those times.
I sat at a table near the wine bar and managed to sell four books to one customer—said customer happened to be an acquaintance of mine, but she did buy three extra copies.
Jacked up on a few ounces of confidence (and red wine) I submerged myself into the power of positive thinking and eyed my next challenge—a couple of women perusing the classic literature section, while sipping sinfully expensive bottled water.
They smiled back.
They approached my table. Both of them had a glimmer of excitement, sparkling in their eyes.
Ah ha. I knew it. I know that look. They had all the makings and glow of die-hard romance readers.
That look of high anticipation, salivating for something romantic to read. The feeling they had discovered a new romance author and couldn’t wait to talk to her, and flip through her book, perhaps read the first chapter and then buy a book for themselves and (fantasy still in full force) a few copies for friends and family.
Oh, yes, all the markings of readers, hankering for something to sink their teeth in…
They had been ogling the gigantic bowl of Godiva sitting on my table.
I pushed the bowl toward them and told them to knock themselves out.
Since then I have armed myself with a more realistic approach to book signings. (I still have that crowd control fantasy going on from time to time, but hey, a gal has to dream, right?)
Fortunately, being better prepared and having learned through that first signing, I’ve had tremendous success in book stores—having done my research and homework, I made sure the stores had a romance section and I still do bring goodies to hand out.
During my later book signing adventures, I’ve met many men who’ve purchased an autographed book, claiming it was for their wives, moms, sisters, aunts—a lot of women out there named Tom, Dick and Harry.
I’ve met the dynamic duo. (not Batman and Robin) Buffy and Muffy who announced with pride that they could write a romance novel in a weekend…giggle giggle, as they sipped their double latte concoctions, flipping through tabloid magazines. I gave them my best smile and wished them luck with their writing and even volunteered to edit it after their weekend of just churning one out, because as we all know it’s just that easy. Of course I also told them, they probably wouldn’t need an editor, I mean writing a book in a weekend must be an amazing talent, and I’m thinking it would be ready for publication. Or so they made it seem when they giggled-talked about it.
One of my favorite encounters was a Masters graduate, (I know this, because that was the first thing out of her mouth after she asked me where the ladies room was located) who perused the cover of my book and said that she would wait until the movie came out, as reading wasn’t really “her thing.”
At one signing, I overhead a conversation between two women who were browsing the store for a birthday gift. Multi-tattooed woman suggested to her equally tattooed friend: “Why don’t you get your old man a book?”
Response: “Nah, he’s already got a book.”
I also attended Word on The Street one year, an outside event in Toronto, where hundreds of authors line up and sign books. My table was next to another author who complained from the time we arrived 7:00 a.m. until the time we closed shop 6:00 p.m. For every negative comment, I came back with three positive ones and made light of things so she’d hopefully relax and have fun.
No smile. More complaining, grumbling and negativity spewing.
Another author on the other side had brought her dog. She had written a book on dogs, so bringing her beautiful Golden Retriever was a clever prop, in my opinion. The dog was well behaved, but at times, he got restless and would wonder to our area.
I would pet him.
Cranky author next to me said: “Don’t encourage that flea bag mutt, send him back over there.”
Dog lay down near our booth.
Cranky author said, and I quote: “If I had a pair of steel toed boots, I’d kick that bitch back to its owner.”
I smiled at her and said, “If I had a pair of steel toed boots, the puppy wouldn’t be the bitch I’d love to kick back to where she came from.”
Went right over her head of course. It takes all kinds to make this world a diverse and interesting place, so they say. (During yoga I often wonder who “they” are that say these things, but I digress…)
All in all, ninety percent of the people I’ve met at book signings are courteous, pleasant, fun to talk to and have a passion for not only reading, but for the romance genre. The above mentioned characters stand out, because they are the exception.
My favorite encounter at a book signing was when I asked a woman walking by my table, “Do you like romantic comedy?”
Flushed and weighed down with a briefcase and diaper bag she said, “I don’t have time to laugh!”
While chewing the inside of my cheek like a chipmunk on steroids to keep from laughing at her serious expression, I thought to myself, that this stressed out woman could be immortalized in a poster with the caption:
“I am woman. I am invincible. I am pooped!”
What do you think? Could you relate? I know there are days when I certainly could be the poster child for that caption.