I’m going to let you in on a secret in the glamorous life of an author: People tend to think authors have leprosy or at least want to sell them an Amway toaster. The reason I know this is because of the book signing phenomenon. Now, when I wrote my first book, Balancing Act, my publisher asked about book signings that I was planning and I thought, “Yes! Of course! Book signings!” Images danced in my literary head, pictures of long lines of people clamoring to see me, gushing their excitement about the book, maybe a few tears at the thrill of it, Marc shaking his head and saying,
Turns out, the only ones crying are usually my children, upset that Mommy’s Book has AGAIN ruined a perfectly good afternoon. People do come, but only if they’re blood relation or paid handsomely, and only my mother clamors to see me. And the thing is, I’M GUILTY OF THE SAME THING. Confession: A few years back, before I was in the bih-nuss, I walked by a book signing table at Barnes and Noble. The author was a local TV personality who had penned a spiritual memoir. He sat with a brave smile on his face, surrounded by stacks of books, while NO ONE, and I mean NO ONE was stopping by. I DID NOT STOP BY. Here I am, years later, and I would like to say, John Bachman of TV 13, wherever you are, I’m very sorry I didn’t stop. I know better now. Here’s what I’ve learned:
1. You do not need to know the author of the book to stop by a signing event or table. You do not need to know her name, the title of any of her books, if she’s famous (probably not) or if she writes real stories or ones she makes up in her head. She does not expect that you’ve ever heard of her and will not think a thing of it if you haven’t.
2. You DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT need to feel guilty if you don’t buy a book. There you are, standing in a bookstore filled with hundreds of thousands of books, and you might find the book being hawked by this particular author is not up your alley. Not your cup of tea. Not a good fish for your fry pan. Simply smile and say something like this:
3. Finally, authors are people too. They work for their money and do so in a highly competitive business. While perfectly woman enough to know everyone will not want to buy her book, an author will still be sad if you say something like:
Now, in my opinion, in order to make a signing fun for everyone and worth a bookseller’s time and effort, I prefer to pile most of my eggs in one basket and invite the entire universe to one event. I send cards, advertise, beg, plead, and make a fool of myself in social settings, trying to avoid the Sit And Smile By a Stack of Books thing. In a couple weeks, for instance, we’ll have our grand soiree at Beaverdale Books in Des Moines. Big signing, big fun, champagne and chocolate, me wearing something that does not require Spanx but still, mysteriously, makes me look young, nubile and Heidi Klum-ish. (Any tips on this?) I’ll give a brief book chat and then set to having good conversation about books and anything else. The folks in Des Moines are always very good to me and we usually have a great, rollicking crowd of well wishers by night’s end. Eventually, my children will voice their protests about Mommy’s Book ruining a perfectly nice fall evening, Marc will clear his throat, and we’ll be off, home to collapse into bed after a really, really fun night.
So, for example, if you’re out and about in Des Moines, on the evening of Friday, September 11, starting at 6:30 p.m., and you want chocolate or some bubbly or a good read signed by a not-famous author, stop by. I’d love to see you. And John Bachman, if you show up, you get a free copy and a brave smile, from one author to another.
Book release signing! Beaverdale Books, Des Moines. Friday, September 11, from 6:30 p.m. until we get tired. Brief book talk at 6:45.