Book Signings - Love 'em or Hate 'em?
I had a book signing a few weeks ago at Borders for my January Intrigue, The Sheriff of Silverhill. It seemed like I had to scale several mountains to get this signing organized even though I had done two signings at this Borders before for two of my other Intrigues. It's my local Borders in the same city where I live, a suburb of Los Angeles. I had scheduled the book signing a good two months in advance and wanted to combine it with a fundraiser for my son's 8th grade trip to D.C. Figured this would be a good way to get people to come in, especially the parents of those 50 or so kids going to D.C. in the spring.
I thought I had everything arranged, but when I called the store about three weeks before my signing to check on the fundraiser, I discovered the manager I had worked with was no longer with the store and her replacement knew nothing about the signing or the fundraiser! After going back and forth with three managers and Harlequin, we managed to get the books ordered and I pushed back my signing one week. The new manager couldn't get an answer about the fundraiser, and I was holding off sending out my mass email to friends and acquaintances until I knew for sure about the fundraiser. Finally, by the time the Friday before the book signing on Sunday rolled around and I still hadn't gotten a positive response about the fund raiser, I figured I'd better send out that email. I got a few responses from friends assuring me they would be there. Ha!
On the day of the signing, the store had set up chairs opposite my signing table as if I were going to give a talk or something. Uh, I don't think so. I think I saw a movie once where an author was giving a talk at a book store to one person - that would've been me! My husband's friend was there early and he stayed for the entire two hours. He and my husband use my book signings to catch up. This is great for me because at least I'm not all alone and we all sit there and chat so it gives the illusion that there's something exciting happening at my table.
I had one stranger buy my book - kind of a weird dude who kept saying "someone told me to buy your book." Really? Someone from the Lost island or something? Another woman chatted me up about writing. She was a writer, but not a romance writer. Anyway, in the end, she told me she couldn't afford to buy the book! So that left my friends and acquaintances. I guess the novelty of having an author in the community has worn off for most people. At my first signing I sold about 50 books; at the second I sold about 25, and this time I sold about 10. At this rate, I'll sell 5 at my next one! A couple of my friends who assured me they would be there were no shows. Later they told me, "the time just got away from me."
OK, I'm not bitter. Really! Of course, I did grumble to my husband that if any of these people ever ask me to buy something from them I'm gong to "let the time get away from me." Sigh - really you shouldn't have to depend on friends/acquaintances to make your book signings a success, but I'm thinking (hoping) it has something to do with my location. In L.A. we routinely get big name authors and big name celebrities posing as authors showing up at stores, signing books and hawking their wares. What's one little HQ Intrigue writer in the middle of big, bad L.A.?
My next Harlequin Intrigue, The McClintock Proposal, comes out in September. I'm just not sure I'm up for another book signing. On the plus side, the store orders a lot more copies than it normally would and I sign and sticker the leftover stock and leave it in the store. Also, it's a way to notify those friends/acquaintances who do want to buy the book that there's another one in the stores. And best of all? It gives my husband and his friend a chance to catch up...
So how about you? Do you enjoy having book signings? Do you get a good response? Do you go to book signings that don't involve your friends or chapter mates?