This is only the second time I have gone into a book shop with copies of my book and signed them. There is something both incredibly egotistical and also exposing about standing up in front of people and politely asking them if they'd like a signed copy of your book. (A metaphor for writing perhaps. You have to be egotistical to do it, but it also exposes you in a way that can be quite scary.)
My first signing session took place in my local Waterstone's a couple of weeks ago. It's a bright friendly shop, well stocked, in the middle of a busy shopping centre. As I know plenty of people locally, I was hopeful that I could bring a few punters in. But going upstairs and seeing a table set up piled high with my books was a tad unnerving. As was the cheery, I'll leave you to get on with it then, shall I? from the manager.
Luckily, I had a hidden army with me in the form of not only my offspring but several of their friends. I sent them out with bowls of chocolate, and instructions to tell people to come up and get a signed copy of my books, and it worked a treat! Though the majority of books I sold were to people I knew, I also managed to palm off a few on some complete strangers. In some instances the sale was dead easy. Apprentice wannabes, eat your heart out!
I was hugely grateful to a couple of my online friends, @craftyfuschia and Caroline Praed for making the effort to come out and join the fun, and was pleased to have sold in the region of 30ish books by the time I left - it may have been more, my pilates teacher arrived after I'd gone home and came knocking at my door with more copies for me to sign.
The town was very busy with punters going to see Jordan (unlike her, I didn't demand you spend £20 on my books before I talked to you(-:), but as most of her punters weren't really interested in my books, I don't think I lost out...
Last week was a whole different experience. I popped up to Church Stretton to sign copies at Burway Books. (Have I mentioned that Burway Books is my favourite bookshop in the world?? No, really?? You can find them here.)
Although the shop itself is tiny, the knowledge of its owner, Ros Ephraim is encylopaedic, and there isn't a book she can't get you if you want it. There is a store not only of huge knowledge here, but Ros and her colleagues Emma and Hils make bookselling a really fun thing to do. I spent the best part of a day with them, and haven't laughed such a lot in a long time.
Church Stretton were having their summer festival that day, so to promote both the bookshop and me, Emma dressed up as the Walker bear (I was very glad I wasn't wearing it I can tell you...) and we went out with flyers to bring the punters in. Church Stretton is a lovely town at the best of times, but the atmosphere was wonderful as people ambled about the different stalls, some in costume, some singing, some dancing. It's the sort of thing you can't do where I live as the community is too big, but it made me want to up sticks and move up there immediately.
After an hilarious hour giving away flyers and confusing children as to who the bear actually was (I felt like I was in an episode of The Apprentice), we hightailed it back to the shop, where I provided bucks fizz and chocolates to anyone who'd take them, in return I hoped for a signed copy of my book. To begin with Emma and I sat outside the shop, but people seemed to think we were chatting to one another (well we were!) so in the end I did it solo, and despite being hugely hard work, and feeling even more like I was in an episode of the Apprentice, it really paid off. The sales were slow but steady, and at the end of the day I think I'd sold the majority of the stock (Final totals: BP, 20, LC 5, SL 2 -not bad at all). I'd also learnt a lot about how to make the best out of a signing situation, and it really is about being bold and putting yourself out there, excruciating as that can sometimes be, while retaining a smile on your face and encouraging people who might not otherwise be interested to look at your book.
I thoroughly enjoyed both days out and am grateful to the staff at Epsom Waterstone's and the fabulous Ros and Emma at Burway Books for making it so easy!