I think most authors who’ve done more than one book signing would agree that book signings are weird events. Today’s mini-version of Authorpallooza was no exception.
I love doing these, so let’s not jump to the conclusion that I’m somehow complaining. They are always interesting, and they are usually fun. Most often, they are a combination of these two. Multi-author events like today are a riot because you can hang out with people who understand your fears, your frustrations, and your enthusiasm. You can talk shop, you can swap gossip, and you can help each other deal with the fear that no one will come up and buy your book or ask you to sign it. A solo signing is a little harder because you feel like you have to grin at every single person who walks in the door and try to make eye contact with them. When there are two, or three, or seven authors, you can just grin at each other and pull faces to pass the time.
Another thing that makes a solo signing hard is the inevitable “Can I pick your brain?” person. Again, I’m not complaining. I love talking about writing, and I welcome the opportunity to do so, but when you’re the only resident expert, it can get hard to figure out how many ways to say “I can’t just give you the name of an editor and promise he or she will publish your book.” When there are other writers around, they can come up with additional methods of informing the would-be writer that there is a lot of work that has to be done to find an editor. “No, there aren’t a lot of editors who would consider a 5,000 word picture book.”
Another reason I love doing multi-author signings is that I get to see friends I don’t run into very often. I love hearing what my writer friends are working on. I love celebrating their latest successes with them, and commiserating over rejections or books that have gone out of print. Okay – I don’t love the commiserating stuff, but I’m glad I can offer a shoulder and know that a shoulder is there for me.
I love little kids who come to the book store and are surprised to see a real author (or two, or four) sitting by the front door or hanging out in the children’s section. It’s like, for just a split second, you are a star to that kid – until they realize that you don’t know J.K. Rowling. Then you’re just somebody who wrote a book, which is still sort of cool, but not quite as cool as before.
The Community Relations Manager at the West Jordan Barnes & Noble is the amazing Angie. She is a one-woman dynamo who makes every author feel as if he or she were just as important as that Rowling lady. Angie is also one of the most well-read, insightful young women I’ve ever met. Would that I was about 15 years younger and she and I would, no doubt, be hanging out together on a regular basis. This is the second Authorpallooza that Angie has coordinated, and the third book signing that I’ve been involved with her in. Every book store in America should be required to have an Angie on staff. She is such an advocate of literature, and an advocate of local authors, too. For that matter, I’d like my own personal Angie to work for me and to hang out with. I wonder what she thinks about cloning? Hmmmm.
May 17 is my next event at the Provo Children’s Book Festival. I’ll be part of a panel discussion there, as well as doing the book signing, so this is sort of the best of all worlds. I tend to sell more books when I’ve had a chance to talk about them first. Funny how that works.
If you get a chance to drop by an event, please say hello! If you don’t live in Utah, drop by a book signing in your area and say hello. Believe me, your local author will thank you.