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?
18 Responses
  1. Rebecca Lynn Says:

    I've never held one of my own, but I went to my first book signing this last weekend. In fact, I blogged about it on my blog just a couple of days ago, and was surprised at how much I had enjoyed it.

    I can't imagine it was very productive for the author. I was the only person there for quite awhile. But speaking as someone who'd never been to one before, I loved the opportunity to meet a fellow author (and a published one, no less!). He gave me some great advice, and I got to read a book I probably wouldn't have read otherwise. It was very cool.

    Plus, I like having the physical copy of his signed book in my possession. There's something more personal about reading a book from an author you've met. So I think I'll be going to lots more book signings now. If I lived in LA, I'd come to yours! But I hope future ones go better!

  2. I think the only other book signing I've attended (besides my own and my chapter mates') was when Anne Rice was signing copies of The Witching Hour in Santa Monica. The line curled around the store and out the door! Wish I could get lines like that - LOL. At my previous signing, I did have a romance writer show up (a complete stranger!) and she had lots of questions for me. I enjoyed talking to her.

  3. Riley Quinn Says:

    Sorry you had such a hard time organizing your book signing. If you hadn't had to wait to send the email, it probably would have been better.

    I've actually been to a ton of them. My mom and her friend got me started. The first book signing I went to was J.A. Jance. Since then, I kept a close eye on the happenings at my local bookstores. Of course, this was when I lived outside D.C. and more authors came through. Now I'm in Germany and did get to see/meet Daniel Wallace (author of Big Fish) while here, I think that was a fluke.

    Haven't had my own yet but hopefully sometime soon.

  4. It can be difficult, but you hit the nail on the head with your second to last paragraph with the positives. It is just two hours, so I'd say do one with your next signing and let your hubby and his friend visit. OR, pretend you're having a book signing and when he shows up, take him to lunch. *grin*

    But like you said, it's more books on the shelf, and an opportunity to let that massive mailing list know you've got another book out. (This bright outlook coming from an e-pubbed author who counts every single sale she gets-LOL)

  5. Riley, yes, it would have been better if I had sent out that email earlier. The mom of one of my friends told me that her daughter never reads her email and she found my card at the library, but by then it was too late. Sigh.

  6. Stacey, you do have to look at the bright side. I probably will have another one in Sept. and just get the notification out earlier. But at what point do your friends/acquaintances get tired of your notifications? I think mine have already hit saturation point. LOL

  7. Jill James Says:

    Some booksignings are sad. The author will be at a table with no one around. I try to hit all my friends signings if they are nearby (I don't drive freeways).

    With publishers giving authors less and less publicity help and booksignings not really working unless you are Stephen King or Nora Roberts, what is an author to do?

  8. Jill, that's why I always drag along my husband (and his friend). At least I know I won't be sitting there alone. One of my chapter mates, whom I hadn't met before, showed up. She saw my announcement on our group's loop, and she lives nearby. We had a nice chat and her showing up meant sooo much to me since she's my only chapter mate that did! (Not complaining - L.A. is big and spread out and I usually don't go to my chaptermates' signings unless they're held right after out meetings in B&N.

  9. Kris Kennedy Says:

    Hi Carol,
    I commiserate. I recoil at the idea of a signing, and as a (rather shy) reader, I definitely skirted authors sitting at tables before I was published.

    I think group signings are a better way to go, at least for me. And I think they might even be less daunting, oddly, for the reader, because it's not so personal.

    I wonder if you can get any other local romance writers on board for the next signing? B/C I agree--friends have only so much time, and they don't need to be at the signing for their own selves, so it's not really fair to keep asking them to show up. (Husbands are totally different. They are required to attend every one. LOL)

  10. ShawnaMoore Says:

    Hi, Carol!

    I'll always remember my first booksigning at a cafe. Was lots of fun meeting readers and answering their questions about writing romance and my inspirations :) Nice turnout, and I did a good bit of local promo for the event.

    Best wishes for your future booksignings :)

    Happy weekend wishes,


  11. Carol, you and I have talked about this, so you know exactly how I feel about book signings. *grin* As a small press author, I haven't had much luck with book signings. To sit there for hours and sell one book is humbling, to say the least...LOL I'm not super outgoing, I get tongue-tied, so that probably doesn't help.

  12. Carly Carson Says:

    I've never been to a book signing for myself. My kids dragged me to a few when they were younger, but these were always well attended events (nationally known authors). I'm sorry things didn't go better, but at least you tried. And your hubby and his friend are sweet.

  13. Kris, I've done the group signings too with my chapter mates after our regular meeting at B&N. The problem with these signings is that the other authors should be drawing in their own friends/acquaintances who might look at your books, but this never happens either! Again, it's just chaptermates buying each other's books! Sigh - I really think it has something to do with living in L.A. One of my chaptermates and a Desire author said her fellow Desire author gets TONS of people at her book signings in...Montana (not sure of the state now). There's just too much competition in L.A.

  14. Shawna, sounds like you had a good experience. My first was my best only because my friends were excited for me and about 50 people turned out (now they're blase - LOL)

  15. Donna, you deserve huge kudos for getting out there! In the end, like anything, we have to evaluate whether or not it's worth it.

  16. Carly, yeah, my husband's a sweetie! One of his co-workers always comes and brings his wife and mother. They usually buy about 4 books!

  17. Sandy Says:

    I have been to lots of booksignings for authors of my local chapter, and if it weren't for our members showing up and buying the books I'm afraid the showing wouldn't be very good. A few non-members buy, but not many.

  18. I have to say that selling 10 books in Waco, Texas is a big deal! :) Guess everything is just relative. I was the book end at a signing with a New Age metaphysical religion author and a historical fiction. Here I am with werewolves and vampires and medieval romance, oh my! I sold about 10 books, all to complete strangers. I hadn't announced it, no one to announce it to. Each of the other authors sold 2! So romance still outsells! :)

    The manager said at one signing, a NY Times Best Selling author didn't even sell one book when she came to a signing there.

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