I love people watching. Give me a comfortable seat on the edge of a big crowd, and I can watch them for hours, which is pretty much what a book signing feels like for those of us who aren’t named Paris Hilton, Sarah Palin, or Stevie King.
(Interesting side note: Only two of those listed authors are actually able to pick out a noun and a verb in a sentence. But I digress . . .)
However, whether you sell a thousand copies or three, a book signing is an excellent opportunity for us reclusive-writer types to observe the book-buying (and, presumably, book-reading) public up close.
For example, most people in a book store, when greeted by a friendly hello, will respond in kind as they stroll past your table. A special few will stop and ask you what your book is about. Yet, it’s the alarmingly-high percentage of folks who blithely pass by, not even looking in your direction, that makes me raise an eyebrow. Where are they going in such a hurry? Nine times out of ten it’s the coffee bar, which just goes to prove you can’t compete with caffeine.
But when someone does stop, the pressure is on. Your hands sweat, your voice quavers, and sometimes you even forget what your book is about. (When this happens, I usually say, “It’s like Harry Potter combined with Twilight and The Stand. Only cooler.”)
I have to give a shout out to all the ladies in the house. Women are much more likely to stop and chat, and they buy a copy two or three times more often than the guys. Slackers! What happened to manly men who read novels while chopping firewood and saving babies from burning buildings? Meh, I guess those days are gone. Now, it seems like many men only read the Sports section of the newspaper and an occasional biography (ghost) written by some washed-up athlete.
Still even with the fly-bys and the blank stares, I have to say that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every minute of each book event I’ve done. There’s something thrilling in introducing yourself, and your work, to new people. So here’s to everyone I’ve met out on the road. Thank you. You make a lonely profession all the more worth it.