Monday, March 24, 2008

Bookstores and US

Because we tend to have a lot of writer friends, and to hang out with writers around the bar at conferences and such, I think we (well me) do tend to forget, as Charles has so eloquently pointed out, that being a writer, a published writer, a writer of books that people have actually paid hard-earned money to read, and to whom companies pay money to produce books, is a pretty neat thing. At Left Coast Crime in Denver I was in the hotel elevator with a group of chattery teenage girls and an older woman. The woman asked what we were here for. “A conference for mystery writers and readers.” “Oh, my GOD, are you a writer?” Rule Number One = always have cards or bookmarks on hand at every occasion. I handed around my bookmark. “Oh, my GOD! Did you write this! You’re an author?” I modestly admitted that I am. “I am so going to go out and buy this book because I’ve met the author. How cool is that?”

Pretty darn cool. Open elevator door. Depart happy Vicki.

I actually enjoy bookstore signings. Sure you can feel like a right fool standing there trying to greet people as they rush past. I remember this conversation on the Rick and Vic Magical Mystery Tour:

Rick: Are you looking for a good book today?
Miserable patron, snapping: No
Rick, picking up a copy of his newest book: Then you’ll enjoy this one.

And this exchange:

Rick makes his pitch.
Miserable patron, holding bunch of ‘bestselling’ paperbacks (buy three get one free): I only read authors I know.
Rick (amazed), gesturing to the books: You know all these people?

And then there are the wanna-be writers who corner you for ten minutes to tell you all about their idea for a great book (they never, ever buy). In Phoenix, after her fifteen minutes about telling me about her book (something to do with THE TRUTH), a woman actually pulled out three pages of handwritten manuscript and shoved them at me before (finally) taking her leave. I glanced at it. One of the truths that the modern world is apparently failing to heed is that women must submit to the God-given authority of men. It is part of THE TRUTH that those pages ended up in the nearest trash bin.

But you also meet people who love books and would be very happy to read yours because you’ve gone to the trouble to talk and be friendly to them. It’s particularly gratifying meeting people who like to support Canadian authors and so they’re happy to read yours. Even in the U.S. I met people who wanted to read Canadians.

So you travel a day, stay in a hotel, eat at a restaurant, put the dog in a kennel, and sell a handful of books. Cost effective? Of course not. But if you’re lucky, someone takes your information sheet and remembers you; you’ve met people who sell books and they’ve liked you; and you’ve had a lot of fun.

Last week I went to the Pacific Festival of the Book in Victoria. Complete and total waste of time, except for two things:

1) I was at a table next to James Hawkins (Inspector David Bliss series), salesman extraordinaire. James is famous for the way he can flog his books and he gave me a lot of tips on how to do a signing.

2) I met an interviewer from CBC radio. We chatted for about ten seconds; I said I’d send her a copy of my book. I did so, and she called me just a few days later to set up an interview (Tuesday March 25th, All Points West, between 4:30 and 5:00 Pacific Time, everywhere in B.C outside of Vancouver)

Oh, and Number Three: Met my B.C. CWC comrades and we went out for a great dinner.

Next week I’m heading back to Ontario. But on the way (not exactly on the way, unless I’m going via China, but you know what I mean) I’m doing several signings in Vancouver and Victoria. If you’d like to know where I’ll be so you can come out and say hi (mention this blog and I’ll give you a free bookmark), please go to my web site: and click on the link for Vicki’s tour.

I’ll try out James Hawkins’ tips and, whether they work or not, I know I’ll have fun.

1 comment:

Rick Blechta said...

To all who read Vicki's blog entry:

If you don't mention this blog, she'll give you two bookmarks...