My second book is in the US stores right now (shameless plug: “An Unladylike Offer” Harlequin Historicals) and I’m doing stock signings.
Signing stock is a little different from doing regular book signings. In an author signing, you sit at a desk, and wait for people to show up. And generally, they don’t. From what I understand, when people stop at the table of someone like me, they are just as likely to ask for directions to the bathroom as buy the book.
But if you just go to the store, sign the books and leave? They put a sticker on the book that says “Signed by Author!” And when you’re gone, readers are more likely to pick it up, because of the sticker, and more likely to impulse buy.
And they are under less pressure, since you’re not sitting there, staring at them like you are the last puppy at the pound.
And you (the author) are under less pressure, because you don’t have to sit there and this happen, while feeling like the last puppy at the pound.
But if you wait until the store isn’t very busy, and ambush: then the only one with the funny expression is the clerk at the info desk. I tend to find the books, grab them, march up to the desk and go “Hi, I’m the author.” (wave books) “Mind if I sign my stock?” (big smile).
And then I stand there and enjoy the gobsmacked look.
To cut booksellers everywhere a little slack: I apologize for not calling in advance, but I tend to decide these things on the fly, try not to come when the store is busy, you only have a few copies, they are all on the floor, and I usually know as well as you do, exactly where they are.
And I figure, if I call too far in advance, they’ll put the books behind the desk while waiting for me, and I need every minute of exposure I can get. These are Harlequins we’re talking about, and they have the same shelf life as bananas. They are gone in a month.
I did all of Milwaukee, the other night. In terms of increased royalties, I didn’t earn enough to pay for the gas. But this is about name recognition, than money. You get a few extra minutes on the shelf, since they don’t tend to throw the unsold book away, if you signed it.
And generally, I want to know where the bookstores are, and where my books are sold. Just because.
I don’t spruce up, too much. But I do my best to behave in a professional manner, and to look like I haven’t just crawled out of a cave.
That is why, my mid-trip snack wasn’t the best choice.
My co-pilot was #2 son, who had been promised a trip to Noodles, if he came along. He’ll do just about anything for a plate of buttered egg noodles. As co-pilots go, he’s very loyal and works cheap.
But we were still a long way from Noodles, and it was getting late, so I stopped at a Borders cafe to get a snack. He had chocolate, peanut butter something.
I was in full ‘smile and shake hands’ mode, and the thought of that much sugar made me sick. I settled for some low-fat banana nut loaf (It was pound cake. It was putting on airs).
And, speaking of pretension: A bottle of Superfood.
Micronutrient Fruit Juice Drink.
Ok. I need nutrients. Nutrients are good.
#2 son looks at it and says “What’s in it?”
“Apple juice, peach, mango and strawberry purees…”
#2 son: “And it’s flavored with mud.”
Damn. I’m drinking fruit flavored algae.
In the long run, it was healthier than having another Diet Coke. And as long as I closed my eyes, it didn’t taste too bad.
But when the goal of the evening is to be ‘smart, professional and friendly’?
Then try not to drink stuff that gives you the smile of Swamp Thing.