Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Joy of Book Signing

Last Saturday, I signed copies of my new "Snap" Malek book from Echelon Press, A PRESIDENT IN PERIL, at my "home" bookstore, Barnes & Noble in Wheaton, Ill. And I enjoyed every minute.

But then, I've always relished signings. It's the one time you get to meet your readers, or in many cases, your prospective readers. For this event, I sent post cards and e-mails to friends and neighbors. Many came, but I was surprised by the number of people I'd never met who stopped to hear my spiel and (often) buy a book.

Admittedly, I was helped by it being the day before Father's Day. I approached one teenage girl and asked if she'd bought anything for her Dad yet. She shook her head and I made my pitch, esplaining why my historical mystery, set in the Chicago of 1948, would be a good gift. Ka-ching--a sale! Same with a woman looking for a gift for her husband from their daughter--another buyer.

A classic car aficionado bought the book because I mentioned that maverick Chicago automaker Preston Tucker appears in the story, along with his revolutionary but short-lived car, the Tucker Torpedo.

My approach is to engage readers "gently"--that is, introduce myself and tell them just a bit about my book. If they respond positively, I go into more detail, but if it's clear they aren't interested, I back off. The last thing I want is to drive people from the store.

I don't believe I drove anyone from Barnes & Noble Saturday. Was the day a success? Yes and no. My definition of success is to sell every book. In that respect, I didn't quite make it. I sold just over 75% of their stock, but several friends who were out of town Saturday say they'll be buying this week, so I still have hopes. And I have the satisfaction of knowing I've made some new friends--friends who might also become regular readers of mine.

Robert Goldsborough