Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Wide World of Book Signings

Thanks to all readers and auditors who came out to University Bookstore Mill Creek last night. Your presence was extremely welcome and appreciated. Crossing my fingers, I emailed Jessica there to set up 25 chairs (up from the 15 I had talked her down to several days ago), and she even had to grab some more! Thank you, thank you, thank you.

First, some Awards, and then some Lessons Learned:

Most Long-Suffering: I count this as at least a three-way tie among the several people who were doing this with me for the 3rd or 4th time. I don't know what treasure you'll reap in heaven for this (probably none), but you have secured my lasting gratitude.

Most Male: Congratulations to the four unknown men in the audience, plus that guy who spent almost the entire reading looking at ONE nearby sweatshirt rack. (You know you were listening--you should have just pulled up a chair.) Unfortunately, not a single guy bought a book, unless they sent a woman up to do it for them.

Most Diligent: One of the after-party attendees reports that the group of unknown 20-somethings next to her was taking notes throughout (!). I can't imagine on what, so either (1) they were wedged in by people and chairs, couldn't escape, and resorted to doing homework; or, (2) their actual assignment was to do a critique of an author event? I shudder.

As for lessons learned, I did a little reading up on doing book signings before I went, figuring this event needed all the help it could get. One writer suggested button-holing people as you walked around the store, thrusting your book in the unsuspecting person's hand so that she felt a moral obligation then to sit down and hear you or--if she were particularly susceptible--to purchase a copy. This sounded too scary a practice, even for me, so I compromised with hunting people down to lay a bookmark on them. My apologies to University Bookstore because I think I chased three women out of the store. Bookmarks in hand, they headed straight for the exit. Oops.

Fortunately there was no need to apply lesson #2: how to handle a heckler. No hecklers in sight. Very friendly crowd. I had my box cutter at the ready, though.

Lesson #3: have a few questions prepared, in case the audience can't come up with any on the spot. This one really worked! By putting a few seed questions out there myself and answering them, that led to others. Unlike the 7th and 8th graders at the school I visited, however, no one at Mill Creek bothered to ask me if I like pie, so I felt obliged to volunteer that information.

And I didn't read this anywhere, but it'll be my new tradition: Lesson #4: have an after-party. Several of us hit Azul, one block down from the bookstore, and with the temperature in the 20s it was nearly our last night on earth, but the sangria and company were wonderful!

If you're coming to Parkplace Books this Thursday, the after-party will be at Purple! Hope to see you.

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