Thursday, August 16, 2012

An Author’s Revenge

Last week, I read Charlotte Hinger's excellent "Botched Signings" post with great interest and would like to continue the thread here.

First, what constitutes a successful signing?

I’ve done my share of signings. Some have been enjoyable. Some have been downright infuriating. I had the experience of driving three hours only to discover the store didn't know I was coming.
"You can sit on the second floor in the back,” the assistant manager said, “if you'd like." I did—and hand-sold a total of two hardcover copies. All in all, on that night, I considered two sales a successful event.

The publicist at my former publisher, the University Press of New England, told me 10 hardcover sales constituted a successful event. I've heard others say you don't judge a signing by the number of copies sold, that you are there to build relationships with readers and bookstore personnel.

I sold 80 hardcovers of my Jack Austin PGA Tour novels in a country club bar one Friday night. (Happy Hour: Order a rum-and-Coke and a Jack Austin mystery!) If you judge that event by royalties, it was successful. But I never got an email from a reader saying they liked the book, saying they were Jack Austin converts. So was the night successful in terms of building a fan base? Who knows?

So what constitutes a successful book signing?

The answer depends on the individual writer and his or her circumstances. When Jonathon and Faye Kellerman’s publisher had them write a novel together and then flew them from LA to New York City for a signing that only a handful of people attended, I'm pretty certain the event wasn't deemed successful.

Unlike the Kellermans, I’m in no financial position to drive three hours and not sell a book. I've been told a signed copy on the shelf sells 35% faster than an unsigned book; therefore, I travel with "Signed Copy" stickers. So that night when I sat on the second floor behind the kids' section and saw not a single soul, I asked the assistant manager if I could sign the stock. When he said sure, I did, and I signed and put a sticker on every copy I left behind. Did they sell? Who knows?

I do know this, though: it's damned hard for a store to return a signed book.

Call it an author’s revenge.
(As as aside, I’ve attached a picture taken during a vacation in Baxter State Park in Maine.)

1 comment:

Charlotte Hinger said...

John, I would love to hear more "worst signings" incidents. And "best signings" for that matter.