Book Signing a Bust – Or Was It?

Schizophrenic Writer joined Betsy Allen, Suzanne Walls and members of the Loudoun County Writers Association for a book signing at Smarts Mill Middle  School over the weekend.   Wesley Hagood, President of LCWA and organizer of the event, knew from past experience that book signings rarely result in a large number of book sales.  Unless you’re already a best selling author a book signing can be a very humbling experience. 

You enter the book store with hope in your heart and smile on your face, prepared to read an excerpt from your book and answer questions about where you get your ideas. You may or may not be willing to confess that the wild girl with questionable taste in men is based on your personal escapades in college.  You have pen in hand and giveaways lined up next to rows of your book waiting for fans and would-be fans to walk through the door. And readers do come in. They glance your way. You smile and say, “Hello.”   They pivot away as fast as they can or nod  and ask directions to the rest room. 

Hours later you’ve sold a few books and made one reader very happy by personalizing the one bought for her sister.  The one who reads books.  Personally, she doesn’t have time to sit and do nothing long enough to finish one.  You tell yourself it was worth it. You’ve gained a few new readers and spent some quiet time surrounded by books. In fact, you bought three and can’t wait to get home, curl up on the couch and start reading.

Mr. Hagood told us that he was hoping that people attending the book sale would be pleased to meet  local writers and purchase their books.  For most of us it didn’t work that way.  I sold one book and gave out a lot of bookmarks. Men, women and children passed by me without a word. Some had so many books they could hardly carry them.  Others had only a few precious titles held close to their chest.  $2.00 for hard backs,  $1.00 for paperbacks, formula romances 10 for $1.00.  Like most of the other writers I offered a discount for my titles but none of us could compete with prices like that. We did no better there than in the book stores. So was it worth it? It was.

The bookmarks we passed out had information about our titles and our websites. Local newspapers ran announcements about the event. We spent time getting to know one another. We brainstormed and passed  tips back and forth. We confirmed there was nothing personal in the rejection we faced throughout the day. It’s not fun. It’s not glamorous. It’s not what you dream about as you sit for hours in front of the computer refining your book but it’s an important part of the business of writing and a writer is who I am.  Will I do it again? You bet. Just tell me where and when. 

If you have tips or stories to tell about a successful book signing or one that went terribly awry, please share your story here. I’d love to read about it.


3 Responses to “Book Signing a Bust – Or Was It?”

  1. Sue Walls Says:

    I agree 100%. The day was long and the traffic was great, except everyone was looking for a deal. How can you blame them? Book prices are sky high already.

    But, there’s something to be said for buying a special book by someone you either know or meet or live near. Further, you never know who that next “buyer” might be. Maybe they will be the introduction to someone “in the business” who might facilitate your next project.

    Yes, sign me up, too. Visability is the name of the game…and I’m in it for the long haul.

  2. Jeanette Marie Wood-Hayes Says:

    Me, Myself, and I salute your comets.

    Thank you very much; : ) LOL!!!!!

  3. schizophrenicwriter Says:

    Okay, I just turned on the TV and saw Bethenny Frankel, one of the Real Housewives of New York City, doing a book signing at a Costco. She had three people purchase her book and spent the rest of the time filling her shopping cart with bargains. Does that mean I can tell people I sold almost as many books at a signing as she did? Just asking…

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