Thursday, October 9, 2008


This is days late, but I've been busy and distracted. Last Saturday I signed books at Deseret Book in Albuquerque during the Priesthood Session of General Conference. During those two hours, the store holds Ladies Night. For non-LDS people, translation is: the guys all went to watch a broadcast in church and the women went out to the LDS bookstore.

My friend, Char, came along, which was wonderful of her. She sat with me at the table, and it's always nice to have someone. Signings are usually lonely affairs, unless you're famous (and I'm not). The staff of the store were very gracious and we moved about half the stock they'd laid out on the table. For a signing, that is doing very well indeed. Contrary to many people's misperceptions, signings rarely sell a lot of books. For the most part, they are a revenue loser for a bookstore because the cost of advertising the signing is usually much more than they can hope to earn back during the signing.

And contrary to another popular misconception, signings usually aren't a big part of "living the dream" of being a professional author. Perhaps they are for some authors who crave fan contact, but if you like attention, you rarely get it at a signing table. In fact, it can be quite isolating if you're not prepared. I always make sure to have something else to do or someone else to talk to. People do not shower you with adoration. There are a lot of polite people who are very cordial. There are a many weird people who say odd things like, "Did you write the book yourself?" (I guess part of the mythos surrounding writing careers is that book packaging is the norm, meaning you have an idea and there's an industry of people who write it for you. Um... there isn't.) There's the occasional aspiring writer asking for advice (which I'm always happy to give.) And then there are many odd people who don't recognise a signing table. I had one woman grab one of my bookplates as scratch paper, ask what it was, then pop her eyes in surprise when she said, "Oh, did you write this book?" I'm not really sure what other reason any person would have for sitting at a table stacked with a bunch of copies of a book, but whatever. Once in a blue moon, when you're just starting out, a fan shows up.

I'm always happy to do signings or readings, though. Deseret Book was very smart to combine this one with another, revenue earning event. I hope the store did well that night.

1 comment:

  1. I seriously considered going, but decided that since Jayne was out of town, I would wind up looking like some long haired hippy freak trawling for Mormon babes.

    Glad Char was there and that you sold a bunch more books. When you get that first fat royalty check, you should totally take all your friends out to dinner.