Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Observations at Book Signings

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.

7 comments:

abaeran said...

I'll be sure to get a gaggle of friends to stop by your table and jump in excitement! Although, I'll probably be enthusiastic enough alone...hahaha I really enjoy talking with authors, to see what tips and off hand experience they have. Publishing a book is a life-long dream of mine, so I keep reading, keep writing, and keep listening to my fave authors. :)

(Actually - do you have a listing somewhere stating where you're going to be for book signings?)

Jon Sprunk said...

I don't have any appearances lined up yet, but I'm hoping to do a couple local signings (central Pennsylvania) in November. I'll keep you posted.

For signings farther afield, you good people will need to contact my publisher and urge them to send me on a junket. I'd love to do it, but with my day-job situation on shaky ground I can't afford to do much more on my own.

J.M. Martin said...

Jon, I would not only stop and talk to you based on the eye-catching cover (my brain would immediately signal "fantasy writer!"), but I'd even bring you a venti iced caramel latte with whipped cream, my friend.

Jon Sprunk said...

You, sir, are a class act.

Justin B. said...

J.M. Martin is striving to earn a character, modeled after him in the next book. Okay, I've had my share of far too much caffeine. that always equals unwarranted sarcasm.

Now, if I was an author (currently: an aspiring one), I would envision myself standing on a table and shouting details about my plot. I'd probably doing it in a detached manner and deliver all the interesting plot points. Imagine the crowd after I shouted "Death, Assassins, Morbid Humor.. and for the girls, a bisexual assassin." I would not divulge any information about the theology or philosophy in the book. Because the latter stuff will actually make them awaken from their caffeine withdrawal stupors.

More than likely, I would probably study people in the same manner. Bookstores promote strange conversation. I once overheard some guy talking about feet fetishes. Thanks to that anonymous man, there's talk about bizarre fetishes in some cafe in my story. And if anyone actually talked to me, I would probably tell them about some band of sparkly assassin vampires that are not in my story.

By the way, if I meet you just be forewarned that I am going to suggest you "run for the hills." Because my conversations might frighten you if you're not accustomed to them.

Jon Sprunk said...

I look forward to it, Justin. ;)

Elicius said...

"Death, Assassins, Morbid Humor..."

Certainly enough to grab my friends and I were we walking through a book store. If someone were to initiate a conversation when they were at a signing, I'm sure I'd be friendly enough. But I fear the writers of chick-lit as an alien race...

I have a mental image of following J.M. Martin's caffeine-bringing friendliness and ending up destroying a whole stand of books.

*shudder*