A Different Book Signing

While I haven’t done it recently, I have participated in several book signings at Barnes and Noble.  Few new authors seem to realize it but unless these events are carefully orchestrated and planned, they are about as much fun as going to the dentist to get some teeth pulled. It turns painful being set up with a stack of your newest book and no one interested in buying it. Yes, I do all the tricks—I bring candy to draw people. I stand on the other side of the table so I’m approachable and talk with anyone passing by the table.  Unless you are a bestselling author with a ready-made crowd of eager book buyers, my experience is pretty similar to other authors. If you try one or two of these types of unsuccessful events, then you are reluctant to do another book signing.

Now a book signing at a trade show is a different matter from my perspective. The publisher has brought the books to give away to the retailers.  It’s much easier to scare up a crowd and give away the books. In the case of the trade show, the publisher is hoping to stir interest in the author and the book with these retailers.

In the October 9th issue of Publishers Weekly, Judith Rosen writes about how book signings have been turned into profit centers.  It’s a good article to study for some book marketing ideas.  As an author, I’m eager to participate or even orchestrate events related to the topic of my book. It’s a different forum where the author arrives as an expert, talks about the topic of the book, then hooks people into purchasing the book. It’s a different twist on the book signing event.

Last week at the Glorieta conference, I signed a number of copies of Book Proposals That Sell. It’s always fun to write a few words of encouragement into someone’s book. Each of us have hopes and dreams and aspirations and I’m eager for readers to use my book to awaken those dreams for their own life. I’ve seen writers use the material repeatedly to gain a book contract with a traditional publisher. At the same time, not everyone wanted their book signed—or even thought about asking me to sign their book. I understand and I’m happy to sign them or not sign them. I was glad to simply get the book into the hands of readers.

David Morrell taught several hours about writing fiction at the Glorieta conference.  I have a couple of David’s books that I carried to the conference so he could sign them. As he signed my books, someone else on the faculty introduced me and said I had written Book Proposals That Sell then pointed out the book. The light of recognition passed across David’s eyes and he said, “I have a copy of that book on my desk at home, but I haven’t read it yet.”  I smiled and said I hoped he would read it some day soon. I knew exactly how he received his copy. Last summer I met David Morrell briefly at the First International ThrillerFest in Phoenix. I understand this author meets many people and has sold over 28 million books. Seizing my opportunity at ThrillerFest, I gave David a signed copy of Book Proposals That Sell. He’s the co-president of the International Thriller Writers.  I’m still hopeful he will eventually read my book.  become enthusiastic about the contents—and tell others.  This business of spreading the word about our books takes consistent work. We will not be successful with every single attempt—but you have to keep trying. It’s the same with other aspects of the writing life.  It’s key to continue growing and writing.

3 Responses to “A Different Book Signing”

  1. Bonnie Calhoun Says:

    As many times as I have read through your book, and it never occurred to me to bring it to GPCWC for you to sign!

    But at least I got a picture of you and me and your book, so I guess I’ll paste that inside the cover!…LOL!

  2. Terry Whalin Says:


    Signed books mean more to some people than others. I’ve got a number of books that have been signed to me over the years–and the real keepers are ones where the author is no longer no alive. I’ll never forget asking a well known author to sign my copy of his book after an hour-long interview. He picked up the book and simply signed his name–nothing else. It taught me a huge lesson about how I sign books–and intentionally make them personal.


  3. D. Ann Graham Says:

    Being an avid book collector, I love books signed by the author — even if I wasn’t there at the time (many authors leave signed copies of their books in the stores). My most prized possession is an old book I found in a used bookstore that was signed by one of my favorite heroes: Eddie Rickenbacker. Looking at that bold signature is a touchstone somehow… a very special piece of reality that came along with the prize.

    I vote for authors to sign books at every opportunity, because even without someone to talk to at the moment, it might speak to someone else who will appreciate it later on. Especially if they enjoy the book!

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