By Chester Campbell
I've been doing signings all over the place since my first book came out in 2002. With number six set to debut the middle of September, I've scheduled a book launch party at Nashville's friendliest bookstore, Mysteries & More. It got me to thinking about this curious business of autographing books. Frankly, I'm not an autograph collector. I don't care if a book I want to read is signed or not. If I buy one at an author signing, or course, I get a name scrawled on it to make the guy or gal who wrote it happy.
Over the years, I've learned a lot about what to do and what isn't advisable. I thought I'd compile my list of things not to do when taking part in a book signing.
1. Particularly in the summertime, people tend to dress rather sloppily when they go shopping. You can make them feel right at home by wearing shorts and a colorful tee shirt, maybe one with Budweiser on the back. Oh, and your bare feet should be covered by sandals.
2. When you arrive at the store, they should have a table set up near the entrance with your books stacked on it. If you don't find it, ask for the manager and raise hell. That'll let 'em know you're no novice at this business who can be ignored and relegated to the back of the stacks.
3. If it's a store with a cafe, tell them to bring you a big cup of coffee and one of those monster chocolate cookies. It'll be nice to munch on while chatting with readers.
4. If they have a speaker system, tell them to announce your presence as the famous, award-winner author Your Name. If you haven't won any awards, make up a couple like the Pew Lizzer Prize or the National Bulk Award. Stores love to host big-name authors.
5. Sit behind your table with a look of determination. If people try to pass by turning the other way, give 'em a shout. "Hey, buddy (or "ma'am," be polite with the ladies), do you read books?" You'll be surprised how many don't, but refuse to let that discourage you. Insist they read yours.
6. Should the crowd be slim, chide the manager for not doing enough to promote your appearance. They love assertive authors.
7. When you ask people if they read mysteries, a few are bound to say, "My life is a mystery." Laugh and reply, "It's probably a crime that's never been exposed." They'll think you're a latter-day Don Rickles.
9. If all else fails, buttonhole customers as they come into the store and shove a book into their hands. Say, "You'll love this book. How do you ant it signed?" You may get a few books thrown in your face as not all people are connoisseurs. Don't let it rattle you.
10. If you don't sell many books, tell the manager you could have done better at the store down the street. A little competition should keep them on their toes.
Do signings this way and you won't be bothered by store people insisting that you come back. Or do it the opposite way and have a ball.
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