This past Saturday I participated in a multi-author book signing at Barnes and Noble, organized by Pennwriters, the nationwide writer’s group I belong to. It was my first book signing without giving a speech before hand. I didn’t know what to expect. I posted on many local social media sites and told my customers about it. I hoped all my hard work would bring a lot of people eagar to buy my book.
Once I arrived at the store, I noticed there were no tables set up. While I went to ask a fellow writer, Gene, my family friend and driver, Julie, looked for an employee to ask. While I talked to Gene, Julie returned to tell us that there were tables set up downstairs for us. Gene was disappointed. He thought we would be upstairs where most of the customers spend their time. His disapproval seemed logical. Once other authors arrived, they also disapproved of the location. I still had high hopes to sell several books.
My friend and mentor, Amy, had told me to pack ten to fifteen books. My mom taught me it’s better to have too many then not enough. So I packed twenty-five books and put them on a corner of the table. I also put a sign-up sheet for my blog, and bookmarks and business cards. I was prepared.
It didn’t take long for me to see why the others were upset with the location. There wasn’t a high volume of customers on the lower floor. Those that came were looking for specific genres and only glanced at our tables. The author next to me brought a game called Bananagrams. It’s like Scrabble. You pick out twenty-one letters and try to make words. This helped alleviate our boredom. When a customer stopped to browse, I would look up to greet him or her and give a small pitch about my book.
The bookstore once in a great while announced we were downstairs, but it wasn’t enough. Julie had suggested that they needed a poster upstairs telling the customers about us and directing them downstairs. She was right. A poster would have made the customers more aware of us and our location. When I do a book signing of my own, I’ll make sure I have a poster made.
The bookstore had several events going on. They had a birthday party in the kids’ section and therapy dogs there. You would think that would bring more customers into the store who would want an autographed book, but not really. When they brought the therapy dogs down to see us, people crowded around our tables, but they wanted to see the dogs and not our books. Who wants to check out books when there are adorable dogs to pet? I also enjoyed petting the dogs.
The kids’ party brought parents of children and was good for the two authors who had written books for that age group. I thought maybe it would be good for my memoir about bullying, but the parents never made it past the authors with children’s books. The good news is the author next to me was very interesting to talk to. We had plenty of time to get to know each other and share our writing processes.
Ana, a fellow breast cancer survivor, showed up to buy my book. A customer of mine from Giant Eagle came, and a teacher who taught the opposite class from mine in fourth grade also showed up. I sold a total of three books over six hours. At least it was better than what I did at the craft fairs where I sold my woodburnings over the summer. One craft fair I sold two things and another one I sold nothing.
The bookstore gets forty percent of each book we sell. Being an author is not a lucrative business. When you see an author in television show sell a book and go on a big spending spree, that is untrue. Unless you have a best-selling book and movies made of your book, you don’t make a lot of money. I made $28.78. Not a lot of money but it was something. I’m putting some of the money I make towards getting a new computer. Eventually I will earn enough to buy one.
My day wasn’t a total loss. I got to know another author, I made some money, and I petted some adorable dogs. An author’s life isn’t easy, but I will keep pushing forward. I still have a talk and book signing at Blasco Library in Erie November 30. I have time to spread the word. Plus I plan on setting up other events.
When I was sick with mental illness, I would have seen Saturday as a total disaster and slipped into a depression. I’ve grown and learned a lot since then. Seeing the positive is what helps me stand in the light of recovery.