Tuesday, October 18, 2011

WHY A BOOKSIGNING ISN'T ALWAYS ABOUT SIGNING BOOKS




No! I'm not crazy. I firmly believe that booksignings are the bane of an author's existence. I'm not fond of 'em. Why? Because if you have to sit (or stand) by a booth or table with a pile of books next to you, people look at you as if you are a new kind of disease. Do they approach? Nope, not unless they've read you before, or they are a good friend.


Do they buy the book and ask you to sign? Nope, not unless they've read you before, liked what they read or they are a good friend.


In most retail settings, they wander by, not the less bit interested in buying a book to read (unless they are in a book store which does change things some -- but not much). Here you are the author, trying to look interesting, and interested but failing miserably.


So why do I do it? At a book signing, I've learned not to sit or stand. I mingle. If the people won't come to me, I go to them. I love to talk to people. Guess it comes from being a school teacher most of my life. I switch into teacher mode at the drop of a hat. And, having taught children, teenagers, adults and seniors, no one group really intimidates me.


And it works. People love to talk about what they like or what they have an interest in. I ask questions, try to find out if they have a hobby or knowledge of something we can discuss. I've met some wonderful people doing this. Recently, at a book signing, I met a woman who's sister raises, breeds and trains horses. I don't know a thing about horses, except they are big and getting up on one is a task I really don't want to undertake. But I write historical romances, so I need to know something about horses. I wouldn't dare have my characters walking everywhere. Not realistic and I do try to be realistic.


So when we exchanged information, she volunteered her sister's expertise when I run into a problem with a horse in one of my stories. And no, she didn't buy a book, at least not then.


For me, a booksigning isn't always about signing books. It's about meeting people, and sharing knowledge. I hope they'll eventually buy one of my books, but I always feel like I've gained more from a booksigning than the sale of a book. I've met a new friend.

4 comments:

Linda Kage said...

That's my big problem, I have a hard time meeting new people. Too shy, too timid. It really sucks. I love to listen to others talk and I love hear their life stories, but I always have a problem with initiating the actual conversation.

I wish I could be more like you.

January Bain said...

Allison, what a wonderful way to handle the dreaded book signing. I to teach, full time plus right now it seems, and have done shows and signing for art shows in the past as far away as Vegas, but I never really thought of getting out there more and mingling and meeting new friends. Well spoke!!! And I too wish I was more like you!

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

Mingling is good, but have someone at your table to hold the customers.

I hate booksignings. They diminish me.

Big Mike said...

Agree rep G. Most signings I do now are with joint author showings and it provides an opportunity to mingle and chat, which I love to do.

Michael Davis (Davisstories.com)
Author of the Year, (2008 and 2009)