Awkward Book Signings

I promised revision insights on my next post, but that was because I normally only post every couple of weeks. Sometime next week, I will deliver.

For now, I’m feeling inspired/troubled by the idea of book signings. Reading this started it. It made me reflect on the one and only book signing I’ve had. I brought candy. Candy made it worse. People tried to sneak pieces of chocolate without looking at me. If they noticed that I’d caught them, they smiled, all apologetic like, and walked away faster.Β 

I did sell a few books. They were the ones my dad’s employee came to buy, and she had to go ask the booksellers where they were because they hadn’t given me any to put on my table.

While I was at this book signing, I was wishing I’d brought something to read. Or a notebook. Or a laptop. Something to make me not look bored or desperate for someone to come talk to me, even if they didn’t want to buy a book. Why is it that people are fascinated when they see artists in the wild, creating a painting before their very eyes, but if a writer brings her laptop she looks like a snob?

Readers who have attended book signings—would you be turned off by an author who seemed to be pretending she wasn’t there? I usually prefer to shop where the salesperson isn’t looking over my shoulder, but when it comes to book signings, it seems to be frowned upon for the authors to mind their own business. My morals lead me to believe it’s even more frowned upon to try hawking your book to anyone who walks by. “Hey, you! Do you like to read? I have a book you can read.” Where is the happy medium?

Authors who’ve had less-than-successful book signings—any insights on how to make them better?

I know, this is the kind of problem most writers want to have. But thinking of how to deal with some level of fame—enough that you’re expected to show up but not enough that you can be sure anyone else will—scares me enough to go shred my manuscript right now. Maybe when my novel is published I’ll hire a body double for all those awkward occasions. Most body doubles are professional actors, right?

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9 Comments

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9 responses to “Awkward Book Signings

  1. You need to have a fan club all arranged to come and draw a crowd. People are sheep! they will migrate if it looks like something is going on. We can all be strategically placed throughout the crowd to talk you up! πŸ™‚
    It’s legitimate! Comedians often place “laughers” in the crowd, just in case… Next time you have a book signing, I will show up wth my ‘team kim’ tshirt.

  2. I know I’m a writer so it might not apply but it wouldn’t bother me to see an author with their laptop. It would just mean that they were busy at work on the next book and as a reader, I want that the most!

  3. sara

    Well, I’m not a published writer (yet), so I have no “real” experience here.

    But I have done artist events, and you’re right. If an artist has a showing or something, people are fascinated when the artist is working right there — it draws a crowd even! Maybe writers just need to make it public. Project their laptop onto the wall so they can see the “artist in action” πŸ™‚

  4. I promise to be at as many signings as I can. I think the fact that your books will be nominated for awards will also ensure that you won’t have any crappy signings.

  5. I wouldn’t b discouraged. I’ve heard that book signings rarely sell a lot of books, but what you are doing is getting noticed so that people will come back at a later date. And so that the staff will sell your book after you’re gone.
    The fact that you sold a few is awesome. I’ve also heard of authors who walked around the book stores and chatted with people in the book store, as well as offering to read part or all of their story.
    Best of luck.