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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Book signings

Author James L. Nelson shared a quote from Dave Barry, today.  It runs like this:

The way a book signing is supposed to work is: You sit at a table, people come up with books they've purchased, and you sign them. Except that sometimes nobody buys your book. This is Author Hell. You sit there, at your little table, and people stare at you as they walk past, or ask you where the astrology books are. Or sometimes they pick up your book, examine it, and and then put it down as if its a piece of goat dung. After a while, the bookstore employees, feeling sorry for you, start lying. "Don't feel bad!" the say. "We had Madonna in here last week, and nobody came to see her, either!"

Well, we authors have all been there and done that.  In fact, there have been a couple of book signings where I have been the person who sought out the astrology books, in the hope that next year promises better.

But, is it the author's fault?

How many authors have actually gone up to a bookseller and said, "How about setting out a table, with a few books on it, so that I can sit there are sign the books people buy?"

It doesn't happen like that. Book signings are organized by the publisher, or by the book store, or whatever.  Never by the author, who (usually reluctantly) agrees to be the guy in this particular side show.  And sometimes they are organized very well indeed.  I remember turning up to one where the crowd about the table was so dense that I thought I was early, and sat quietly on a bench waiting for the crowd to disperse.  Then I heard the bookstore assistants saying to each other, "Where is the author?"

And the author was me!  But I take none of the credit.  The bookstore had earned it all, with lots of advance publicity, an interview and maybe an advertisement in the local paper, and lots of invitations sent out.

So, dear fellow writers, if the Dave Barry situation happens to you, don't take the blame on your own shoulders.  It isn't likely to belong there.

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