Sunday, July 03, 2011

Adventures in Book Signings

I don’t do that many book signings, not because I don’t like them, but because they’re a bit intimidating. I’ve heard plenty of horror stories from authors far more well known than I who claim that signings aren’t worth the time. It’s always a crapshoot to see if anyone will show up, and when they do, will they want to chat, or even acknowledge your presence?

This weekend, I took part in two signings, and I have to say that the stores’ hosts were terrific. Both stores advertised my event and went out of their way to make sure I was comfortable. So, a big thanks to Judy from Hooked on Books in Penticton, and to Trevor at Mosaic Books in Kelowna. They are first rate people and booksellers!

The Penticton event took place during the weekly farmer’s market, a huge event that draws lots of people. I was set up at a table just outside the store, which was great. I was in the shade, a breeze was blowing, and I got to watch people. Unfortunately, the guy playing guitar at the curb right in front of me blocked the traffic flow past my table, but he wasn’t there the whole time.

One of the most fascinating aspects of signings are the conversations I engage in, and this weekend was no exception. One passerby was intrigued by the title of my latest mystery, The Opposite of Dark. When I explained what the book was about he got really excited because the search for the truth about one’s past is apparently what his whole life has been about. Sadly, he couldn’t buy the book because he’d recently moved and was trying to get his life together. Since he’s in his late 40’s, I hope he does soon.

Another young man thought it was cool that I was publishing books, both as a self-publisher and traditionally published author. We talked for awhile a bit about technology, e-books, self-publishing, and he seemed pretty interested in buying a book. But since I wasn’t selling anything for under $7, which was his budget, he left empty-handed, but vowing to buy one of my books when he’d saved enough money. He was in his late teens, I think.

Several middle-aged and older men were drawn to my table when they saw the title Taxed to Death, my first Alex Bellamy mystery. But when they learned it was a work of fiction and not a tome about what’s wrong with Canada’s tax system, they lost interest. And who can blame them? There’s nothing like a 300-page political rant to get aging blood all hot and bothered. Since the HST referendum looms on BC’s horizon, there’s evidently an impressive number of older guys cruising the streets looking for a good political debate (no women, oddly enough). One man even approached me inside the second bookstore, carrying his gigantic blue and white ‘Extinguish the HST’ signs. Admittedly, I’d had enough debates by this point, and said right away, “It’s a murder mystery, not nonfiction.” He already knew this, he’d answered, because he’d read about me. This didn’t prevent him from sharing his political thoughts, which I quite enjoyed. Also, it was kind of cool that he knew who I was because a few minutes earlier, a young man had wandered up to my table, looked at my books and said, “I never even heard of you,” and wandered off again.

Of course there were the usual “Where’s the washroom? and “Do you know if this store sells…?” questions. Happily, I could even answer the one about the washroom. There were more conversations, but you get the idea. When it comes to book signings you never know quite what to expect, and that’s half the fun ... or half the battle.

THE OPPOSITE OF DARK,, Chapters/Indigo

1 comment:

James C. Wallace II said...

Sounds like book signings I've done. I did a Farmer's Market event once. It was certainly interesting, if not profitable.
At Oz festivals though, I'm treated like royalty, as are all my fellow Oz authors. Its like family and certainly feels like a niche market.