Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Just visiting…

I’m guesting today over on mysterymavencdn today and if you’d like to follow me over there, I’m talking about an experience that will bring a chill to even the most hardened veteran of bookstore signings: the dreaded “Other Author”.

Why don’t you drop over and see me there and then drop back here to check out the addendum I’ve added on down below?

Here’s something I try to now do whenever I’m on the road signing books. My very successful technique came about during a signing I was doing in concert with Vicki Delany several years ago in Oakville, Ontario.

Vicki and I have done many joint book tours over the years. We work well together, have a great time, and often sell a lot of books – even each other’s on occasion.

On this particular Saturday, traffic was a bit slow in the store, but one gentleman strolled over and engaged me in conversation, lengthy conversation, I might even say deathly interminable conversation – all about the books he’d written. I don’t even remember the point of his diatribe (if there was one), but I do remember he compared his efforts to mine several times, in not too complimentary fashion.

About the same time, some punters showed up and Vicki, dear girl that she is, took to selling my books as well as her own, seeing as how I was in earnest (one-sided) conversation with this gentleman. Unfortunately, I couldn’t manage to catch her eye to help get me extracted from my situation. (Somehow, I’ve always felt this incredible reluctance to be rude to people, but I should have told this guy off within the first five minutes. He just seemed so needy, though…)

Eventually, Vicki did help me out of my sticky situation, but on my drive home that day, I stewed about what had happened to me and how I could prevent it, seeing as this wasn’t the first time it had happened.

And here’s the dodge I’ve since come up with: bring a “publicist” along with you to book signings. This doesn’t need to be a professional, just someone who can pose as a professional. Their job is to stand near the entrance of the store, hand out publicity materials (bookmarks, flyers, etc.) and to direct customers over to the signing table where the august author is awaiting their presence. This little bit of caché adds to the lustre of the event by making you seem more important than you probably are (after all, only A-list authors get a publicist).

But the more important job of your “publicist” is to keep an eye on the signing table and deflect anyone away who is monopolizing the author. A quick “help me!” look can be worked out ahead of time. This deflector can then step forward, peel off the offender from in front of the table and let other people step forward.

When I can get him, I often use my son Karel to do this. He’s very adept verbally, nicely chatty – and really tall in case there are problems. He also used to be a security guard, so he’s good at take downs of little old ladies who are lonely and may just want to talk a bit too much.

Seriously, this little dodge does work quite well. It impresses the hell out of staff, it allows the signing author to get more store coverage for the promo material and makes the author seem more of a “somebody” to the customers who might not otherwise even slow down to look at the signing table.

Try it and see if I’m right.

Oh, and for all of you who live in the towns I’ll be visiting next fall on the Grand Ontario/Quebec Book Tour for The Fallen One, expect a phone call from moi…


Charlotte Hinger said...

Great idea Rick. I think having someone to help with book signings is a god-send.

Charlotte Hinger said...

Great idea Rick. I think having someone to help with book signings is a god-send.

Mario said...

A fake publicist? Love the idea. Brilliant.

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