I have finally come to the end of my book signing tour, apart from some re-plays at Kingston, Guildford and Bristol. More signings will take place before Christmas, persistent devils some of these book store managers!
My thanks to all you hard-working staff and managers at WHS, you did me proud.
Now, a word for all you aspiring writers.
Book signings are effective, I usually sell anything between 40 and 60 copies (more at Christmas) at each event. However do note, that if you sit down and drink tea while cultivating a few corns on your arse you’re not going to get anywhere.
No matter how good the book, no matter how good the author, sitting down mouth open catching flies is fatal – come to think of it sitting down looking all superior and holier than thou isn’t much better either.
Readers are not going to come to you, you have to go to them. A riveting sense of humour, is essential as is devastating charm, good looks and not looking as if you have just spent the night in a skip, I’m not kidding either (how the hell does he do it, then? I hear you all wail, don’t ask me!) but believe me they all count in spite of what the mediocrity brigade will have you believe.
Assuming your writing commercial fiction, remember that 85% plus of the book shop buying public are women over 25, men will just whisk past you on their way to Jeremy Clarkson or some ex-SAS memoir, that’s if they are in to buy a book at all which is doubtful.
So, while you’re standing there looking rather desperate and gripping a few copies of your latest bestseller for dear life, ignore the men oh and anyone under 25 (they don’t read), smile, look hopeful, be wonderfully sexist and discriminatory and pounce on any lady (over 25) who happens to be passing by. Pay no attention to the overwhelming ‘I don’t reads’ and the ‘I don’t have times’ and the ‘I don’t read crap’ folk they are only in to buy the Sun anyway, so no loss and don’t do the hard sell either.
If a punter isn’t interersted leave them alone.
It’s no good going in for a quick hour either, unless you’re selling another Harry Potter adventure. Give yourself plenty of time, a target and don’t damn well leave until you have achieved it, come what may. Don’t go off for some coffee, something to eat, the toilet etc etc, you could lose a sale, remember you’re in there to flog books like it or not, so it’s no good sitting there thinking aren’t I a clever little bugger and aren’t you lucky to have the chance to experience my genius.
Of course, it helps if you have written something people want to read (the back cover is critical here, it makes or breaks a sale along with a roller banner – handy for those who don’t have their reading glasses with them!).
After all this, book signings can actually be quite enjoyable, it all depends on the customers. Some are lovely, some are interested, some come in for advice on ‘getting published’ and some are just incredibly rude and plain mean ( I mean how dare they ignore the best novel ever written!) but that’s the great British public for you. Have a skin thicker than the aforementioned Jeremy, don’t give in, always beam enthusiasm about your book and you might well sell a copy or two.
Good luck to all of you, you will need it!
PS Always make sure you set up your stall as it were, close to the biggest footfall traffic – usually as near to the main entrance as possible. For the big stores, being in the ‘Book’ department isn’t always the best place, not enough customers to convince
PPS And before any of you comment, particularly those of a more intellectual persuasion, Waterstones is no different (I have done plenty of them) apart from the fact that newspapers are nowhere to be seen and some of the customers believe they are covered in chocolate, as indeed do some of the staff. Either way it is apparent that such superior snobbery has failed miserably to generate enough vulgar profit, thus the recent Red takeover, the proletariat wins again!