Monday, December 17, 2007

The Book Signing Blues - Wright

Book signings create anticipation and agony—in this writer anyway. Will readers line up to acquire your coveted signature on a volume they will treasure? OK, not unless you’re Margaret Atwood or Khalid Husaini. Most likely, you’ll sit behind a table arrayed with copies of your darling while potential readers give you a wide berth. With a smile frozen on your face, you’ll wonder for the umpteenth time why you weren’t called to become a bank teller or lumberjack.

Or, you may stand by your display with an elaborate expression of nonchalance engaging visitors to the bookstore in conversations designed to move them to buy your inspired writing. They’ll ooh and ahh over meeting a real live author, take your leaflet and say, “I’ll give it some thought,” only to avoid you as they leave the store. Who can blame them? In their place I’d probably do the same.

You may leave a book signing having sold not a single volume or leave with the elation of having sold a few dozen. My recent experiences lead me to the following unscientific conclusions:

 I sell few, if any books in venues where a number of writers offer their wares. Since September I’ve been involved in three events in which I either sold zero or one book. Best to consider these events as valuable opportunities to promote writers in general or the Word Guild in particular.
 I sell a good number of books in venues where I am the only author present, for example, bookstores in malls or high traffic areas. Wherever I have an opportunity to describe my book and engage potential customers in conversation I have a much better chance of a sale. By itself—lost as it will be in a bookstore among thousands of other books—my book will have little chance of attracting attention. Anything that creates buzz may help to overcome this handicap.
 I sell a good number of books in venues such as craft shows where the very uniqueness of a book table attracts customers. This is especially true if the book has some local connection.
 Sales are much higher leading up to special days such as Christmas, Mother’s Day or Father’s Day.
 Saturday evening is the worst time to have a book signing in Chapters.
 Unless there is wide publicity and free food, few sales will result from book signings in individual bookstores with locations distant from high consumer traffic.

All in all, it’s been a good experience and I’m a little smarter, but I do look forward to a few months without book signings.

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