The Perils of Book Signing Part Two

The Perils of Book Signing Part Two
Alan J Hill

Tremain, Book One: The Seven Faiths
Tremain, Book Two: Underworld and Overland

Up at 6.45 am waiting for the clock radio to scream its good morning into my ear. Didn’t sleep a great deal, wondering, expecting and trying to manage my expectations into the realms of reality. Couldn’t wait anymore, out of bed and into the shower. I worked out what I was going to wear the night before – what does a first time author and virgin book signer wear for his first foray into the morning light of the ‘public at large’?

I settled for a blue sports jacket, ‘trendy’ T-shirt and chinos. Oh, and a pair of new shoes that I hadn’t worn before (we’ll come back to them later). My wife said I looked like an extra from the 80s version of Miami Vice. Perfect, that was the look I had in mind!

Into the car with my box of books and flyers on the back seat, which had been checked twenty-seven times before leaving. With my supporting wife by my side, I set off for the west of England. It was a two-hour drive to Bristol from Hampton, near London where I live. A torturous journey.

My signing was scheduled to start at 11 am and I rolled up in Bristol an hour early, and sat in a local coffee shop watching the hands of the clock move cautiously round. Finally, the hour hand moved and several days later, or so it seemed, I thought, Bugger this, I’m going in!

Initially my contact was not available and so I met the ‘Event Manager’ who had kindly set up a small table for me in the children’s section.

By this time my new shoes have reduced my feet to dead appendages on the end of my legs and I’m sure I actually heard them screaming at one point. But I couldn’t let my feet let me down, and I started to engage with the public.

From 10.45 until 11.45am I gave out two flyers, got asked where the classic section was and helped a lady find her missing child. Even though I hadn’t sold a thing, I comforted myself that neither had the teenage section. And so I was reassured that I was joint ‘Number One’ with the top twenty children’s authors in the country with no sales at all.

My contact, Mark Scott turned up. A nicer, more helpful young man I could not hope to meet. He moved me to a much bigger table at the front of shop, printed off more flyers, gave me a stand with marketing information and positioned some of my books by the till. Now it was up to me.

When I visit a bookstore I either know which book I want or I am going for a browse around. I do NOT want a Miami Vice extra, with feet like two pieces of raw liver accosting me with his new fantasy book. The Waterstones’ guys were pushing me to go for it but I was trying to be a little more circumspect.

I found approaching my chosen market: teenagers, a disaster. They didn’t see me as a throwback to an 80s cops and robbers show, more like a creepy middle aged man, muttering something about a new fantasy novel. So approaching teenagers was out unless accompanied by a parent.

Cracked it! I spotted a lady with her son browsing in the fantasy section. I sauntered over with my book and made conversation. Her son read the back of the book, grunted his assent and I signed my first ever book in a store!
“What’s your name?’ I eagerly asked.

“Fin,” came the reply.
A sign, I thought, as a character in my second book is called Fin. I scribbled something encouraging in the book and then went from strength to strength.

In the next two hours I doubled my sales, a 100% uplift. Two books sold! On a roll! The clock soon ticked around to 2.30 pm and with a drive back to London, and a pool of blood around where my feet once were, I called it a day.
My ever-supporting wife had been back and forth in the intervening time with encouraging words, drinks, and lots of shopping. I packed my books up and dragged my aching back and stumps-for-legs back to the car.
“How shall we spend the £2.50?” I asked Deborah.

“A pair of second hand shoes?” she replied.

Next time I shall be closer to home. Friends and relatives will come, a crowd will develop a crowd, and I will do better. I know I will.
A first step on a journey, I keep telling myself. Although at the moment, my feet cannot step anywhere.

Contact Alan by Email
Buy a copy of Tremain Book One and Two Amazon, Barns & Noble and Goodreads 

5 thoughts on “The Perils of Book Signing Part Two

  1. Book signing requires preparation and planning. You get results from effort. I have done several signings with Borders and Waterstones in Liverpool, Manchester, Warrington and The Wirral. Each time was a sellout. I managed to get on local radio and tell local newspapers about the events. I enjoyed all of my signings. I also did a marketing exercise and discovered most of my books went ot hospital patients who heard the radio shows.


  2. Oh, Susan I'm sure it'll be fine. Funny though, it reassured me because I've imagined people coming in and laughing at me! (I still have this disbelief that I'm a writer!). I can't get used to the looks I get when I tell people I write – awe and shock – and feel guilty that I have this *talent*. Weird, eh?

    I agree Parnell's video is hilarious. Wonder how many copies he sold on the back of that? lol


  3. Oh, great. Just the encouragement I need on this, the first day of my week of events for my debut mystery! Funny, though, and another good reminder to stay humble because what other choice do we writers have? (I have seen Parnell's hilarious video several times and so I can't say I'm not forewarned.)


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