Sunday, December 7, 2014

Reflections on a Book Signing . . . .

I love doing book signings.  My table is set up facing the front door where I can greet every customer as they enter the store; I have five or six copies of THE TESTIMONIUM stacked neatly in front of me, a dish full of peppermints to give to those who stop by, a frame of arrowheads from my collection as a conversation starter, and a copy of the full page article the local paper did about me and my novel.  It's a busy day in the Christmas shopping season; people are coming and going constantly.
  "Hi there! Want to take a look at my new novel?"  Smile bright, attitude eager, repeated again and again as new customers enter the store.  Most - well over half - will pause and take at least a cursory look; some are intrigued enough to ask a few questions, and about one out of five today says "Sign me a copy, please!"  It's fun greeting the people, even if you have to hear the saddest sentence in the English language several times a day - "I'm not a reader."
   An old friend comes in and you are delighted to see them, but throughout the entire conversation you keep one eye on the door for new people coming in so you can give them your greeting, your sales pitch.  Some folks tell you "I'll pick one up on the way out," then leave by the checkout counter furthest from your table to avoid walking by you again.  Others really do come by and pick one up on the way out.  Some say sadly that they don't have the money right now, but then they pick up one of the fliers you had made and walk away reading the plot synopsis.  Future Kindle sales?  Who knows?
  A former student stops by and asks how many books you've sold, then makes your day when she says "Well, I'm about to buy two more!"  Several people mention that book they started to write last year, or when they were in college, or when they were a kid.  You encourage them all - after all, you started your first book in high school, and as bad as it was, you never forgot how nice it felt to finish a chapter.
  It's getting dark outside, and your box of books is nearly empty.  Twenty sales - a very nice day indeed!  You pack up your props and take them out to the car, leaving the books on the table for last.  You come back in and see another customer. "Want to take a look at my new novel before I pack them up for the night?"  Turns out she does, and since her niece is a student of yours, she buys a copy.  You leave a few signed copies at the bookstore, along with the leftover fliers.  You go to the register and cash out.  Two hundred and eighty-nine dollars for five hour's work.  Of course, you paid $11 each for those books, so it's $4.45 profit per book, but you're not counting that right now.  You're looking at the cash in the wallet and planning to take your wife to the movies tonight.
   A prophet may indeed be without honor in his home town, but local authors do OK.

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