I want to thank the authors at Bell Bridge Books who contributed to this blog. Your experiences are ones that are familiar to many published authors who have sat through booksignings.
Most people believe that author booksignings are glamorous and that all of us have three-deep lines stretching around the block while our readers wait anxiously to buy our masterpieces. NOT SO! That only happens to Nora Roberts, John Grisham, JK Rowling and the like. But while booksignings can be solitary events, they can also be quite humorous.
To all new authors who are anticipating their first booksigning with bated breath, here are a few things you need to know up front:
1-Do take a friend to talk to, because you will not have lines circling the block, and sitting there trying to look excited for hours can get tedious.
2- Find the location of the bathroom, because you will be asked this question more than anything else.
3- Check out the book sections so when a bookstore customer asks this romance author trying to hawk her books where the mystery section is, you can direct them.
4- Get use to people who avoid looking at you. Your hair is not messed up, your make up isn’t running and your lunch is not stuck in your teeth. They just feel if they look at you, they will be obligated to buy your book.
5- Be prepared for all manner of strange things to happen, because they will.
To prove #5 some of my Bell Bridge author friends have related some of their . . . less than normal experiences for me to share with you.
I was scheduled to do a booksigning for my second published novel at a Walmart in north Jacksonville, FL, and my friend, who lives up there, was coming with me. When she found out where we’d be doing the signing, she smiled knowingly and asked if I’d ever been there before. I said no. Her smile got wider, and I asked why. Her answer was, “It’s just . . . different.” As the signing progressed, a woman came to my table with a stack 6 or 8 of my books. I asked what name to sign in the book. She gave me her name, and I signed the book. As she handed me the next one, I asked what name to sign it to. She gave me her name again, and we repeated this process for the entire pile of books. Unable to hold back, I finally asked why she had all the books signed to her. She said “Because I’m a good person, and I deserve it.” At my stunned expression and my attempt to suppress my grin, my friend simply said, “Told you.” ~~~~~ Elizabeth Sinclair, Hawks Mountain series
I dashed to the bathroom in the middle of a very slow signing and when I came out, I had toilet paper stuck to my shoe. I looked down right as I passed a gentleman. He opened his mouth to say something, but I released a loud sigh and said, "That's my life. Little more than a punchline to a bad joke..." I bent down, removed it, and tossed in a nearby trashcan. <g>
He bought a book. ~~~~Laura Hayden, Magick Rising
Several of us were signing just outside a bookstore in the mall when we were approached by a woman who wasn't interested in books. Instead, she told us all about how her husband was complaining about her breastfeeding her child too long, and she was looking for us to validate her decision. I'm not sure if it was because we were romance writers, female, or just a captive audience for her frustration. ~~~~ Parker Blue, Wolf Rising, a novella in the Majick Rising paranormal romance anthology from Bell Bridge Books
Early in my career an author friend and I were doing a mall bookstore signing when a man and his teenage son stopped to look at our romances. They were polite and interested in the books . . . until the father started asking questions about what positions our characters used. We sat, mouths hanging, not sure how to answer this man standing there with his SON until one of our fellow authors stepped out from behind a post and laughingly introduced her husband and son. We'd been Punk'd. But we immediately learned how to handle those 'sensitive' questions should the occasion arise again. ~~~~ Dana Ransom, Love's Own Reward, May 2014
At a small town booksigning at a lovely indie bookstore, we had partnered with the local animal rescue and had collected a decent crowd of interested book buyers. One nice gentleman with rather thick eyeglasses chatted with us quite a while about our books. We talked to him about the stories, shared that they were cozy mysteries set in Laguna Beach, and asked about his reading tastes. He decided to give the books a try, and we autographed a copy of DESPERATE HOUSEDOGS to "Steve" and stamped it with the little paw-print stamp we use. Off Steve went to pay... and here's where things went awry. You see when he got to the cash register at the front of the store, he'd decided the print was too small. At that point, he attempted to get the owner to buy the book and donate it to the local library in his (Steve's) name. The owner said if Steve wanted to do that should buy it himself and donate the book. In the end, the poor abandoned DESPERATE HOUSEDOGS book was left behind, and we ended up buying it ourselves.
For a year or more, we carried the "Steve" book with us hoping to get a request from a Steve, where we could say, "Here you go!" But alas, no other Steves came along, and we finally had to decide it was simply a fun story and a lesson-learned to make sure the buyer is really buying before you personalize that autograph. :-) ~~~~Sparkle Abbey, Pampered Pets Mysteries
It was 2 weeks before Christmas in a Barnes and Noble in a large city where I knew very few people (1st mistake). I was smiling hopefully at customers, hoping to interest them in Moonstone, book 1 of the Unbidden Magic series as they did everything possible to avoid eye contact. Two teenage girls approached my table. "Ah," I thought. "My target audience." I held up a copy of Moonstone. One of the girls reached around me to point at a display and told the second girl, "There it is! The Kardashian’s new book!" Bottom line: the Kardashians are tough to compete with. ~~~~ Marilee Brothers, Baby Gone Bye
Bottomline is, booksignings can be tedious, lonely, frustrating, and boring, but they are always entertaining!
Please try the books mentioned after each author’s story. I promise, you won’t be sorry . . . and you won’t have to stand in line.
Salt Run Publishing has brought back some of Elizabeth's reader favorites. (See covers at left) If you missed them the first time or would like to have the digital edition, you can find them here.