I ventured over to Sunny Sunderland on Saturday (see what I did there?) for a book signing at Waterstone’s. As with previous signings, there weren’t lines of readers beating down the doors, but, hey, you know . . .
It can feel like something of a hardship, trying to sell your books and your name – because that’s what a signing is unless your very famous. It’s about making yourself known, fixing your name and your book covers in people’s minds and, hopefully, selling a few copies. But it really isn’t a hardship at all and, while I’ve only done a few signings, I think I’ve learned a couple of things.
I learned that signings can be good fun. Yeah, really. I met a lot of friendly people and not one old grump, so that’s pretty good, right? It always surprises me (though it shouldn’t), but most people are really very nice. I chatted with a lot of people I wouldn’t have otherwise met, and a few of them even bought books.
I’ve learned that sitting at a desk, hiding behind a pile of books doesn’t work unless you’re Lee Child or JK Rowling. People don’t know how to approach you; they don’t know what to say. No, you have to shun that chair, confine it to redundancy, roam the territory around your stand like a
hungry friendly shark. Go right up to people, introduce yourself, ask them to have a look at your book. No hard sell, just a polite introduction. You’d probably be surprised how many potential readers have seen you but just aren’t completely sure who you are or what you’re doing there. So, tell them. It doesn’t always come naturally to authors, I know. We like to hide in the dark, with just our computers and our coffee for company.
I also learned the power of the bookmark. A nice colourful bookmark. We all like to get something, don’t we? And if it’s colourful, even better! A friend of mine was kind enough to print some bookmarks for me and I handed them to people as they came in and left the book shop. It’s a great way to introduce youself and then persuade them to at least look at your book! Even if they don’t buy it now, they’ll know who you are, they’ll know the cover of your book and they’ll have a bookmark that’s got your website address on it. And maybe, just maybe, next time they’re looking for a book to read . . . .