Monday, May 27, 2013

Book Signings: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

When doing a book signing at a bookstore as they say on Pawn Stars on the History Channel, “you never know what’s going to walk through the door.” Having been in this game since 2007, I’ve had some interesting experiences when doing book signings.

I never sit begin the table that has been provided. I stand in front and greet people. Some are friendly and engage in conversation and others scamper away like scared rabbits. And here I never thought I was that scary, but, hey, maybe mystery writers all look like serial killers.

Here are a few things I’ve learned. When I arrive, I always learn where the coffee shop and restrooms are. These are the two most common asked questions when I greet someone entering the door.

Traffic goes in waves. There will be a rush of people, and then it will be quiet for a while. That’s why it’s more enjoyable to do signings with other authors. During the lulls, you have someone to chat with.

I often ask people questions when I greet them. One time I was doing a signing in my hometown of Boulder, Colorado. I approached a gentleman and asked if he read mysteries. “No,” he answered. Not giving up, I asked, “Do you enjoy humorous books?” “Not particularly,” he replied. “Ah, too bad,” I said. “I’m a local author doing a signing here today and I write a humorous mystery series.” His eyes lit up and he said, “I’ll take one. I always support local authors.” You never know what to expect.

Some of the other types of experiences. A man approached my table and after I gave him my spiel, he looked at me askance and told me I would sell more books if I got new eyeglasses. Again, you never know what to expect.

One negative experience that I turned around. I was preparing to leave after a bookstore signing, and the manager ran up and handed me one of my books he had found lying on a table that I had signed it for someone named Laura. I swapped that for an unsigned copy and gave it to my daughter Laura.

Mike Befeler

1 comment:

Jean Henry Mead said...

Mike, I don't especially enjoy book sigings because I've experienced some of the same reactions from potential customers. Some ask me to get books from a high shelf because I'm tall, others flip through the pages as though browsing a phone book before seting it down and picking up another. A fellow writer once told me that he felt like a caged animal in a zoo. Like you, I prefer a signings with other other writers. It's more fun and customers seem to be friendlier, for some reason.