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“Reading and writing are acts of empathy and faith. Guard that trust carefully — in this rapidly changing business, it’s the only sure thing.” ~Erin Keane
"Never give up. And most importantly, be true to yourself. Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in." ~ Louise Brown

"Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it."
~Jesse Stuart

"A writer's job is to take one thing and make it stand for twenty." ~ Virginia Woolf

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Of Bookstores, Signings and Presentations

This weekend I went to the launch party for fellow WiDo author David J. West at Borders in Murray, Utah. He had another signing the following day at Borders in Provo, Utah, and I was at that one, too.

David did very well for an unknown author publishing a debut novel with a small, unknown press. He had publicised both signings through his extensive social media network (blog & twitter), and although not everyone showed up who said they would, it was still pretty darn good. And I bought three books in Provo. Already reviewed one of them, Eat Pray Love, on my other blog here. (I already have a copy of David's book, which is awesome amazing and incredible btw, so I didn't buy that one.)

I don't do bookstore signings anymore. It feels too much like my 8th grade graduation dance. You sit there hoping someone will notice you, hoping your friends won't desert you and later when you get the pictures back, you realize you didn't look as cute as you thought. The hair's gone flat, the outfit just didn't work, and yes, it's true, the camera adds ten pounds. No wonder no one wanted to dance-- er I mean-- talk to me.

So yes, I find them incredibly painful on a deep and disturbing level. However, I do enjoy presentations, where people I don't know come on purpose to find out about me and/or my books. Those are a bit nervewracking at first, but once I'm there and see that yes, people actually DID show up, I relax and feel good. I talk about random things (my red shoes, Jane Austen, the economy, my family, whatever I'm in the mood to tell stories about) and somehow relate it all to my books.

And more of my books sell at presentations than at the sit-at-a-table-in-a-bookstore signings. Of course it might have something to do with my attitude. One is sitting & waiting, the other is sharing & storytelling. So much more fun! I mean, really, don't you agree? Which would you rather do?

22 comments:

  1. Hi

    I'd love to go to one of your presentations!!! that would be totally amazing!

    And congratulations to David J West. It's great that he was able to use twitter and blogging too for publicity - they really are great tools for such things.

    Take care
    x

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  2. Kitty, Hi! When I'm famous I'll come to England and do presentations! LOL about being famous, but I sure DO want to come to the UK!

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  3. Interesting perspective on signings versus presentations. I never really thought about the difference, or pictured myself doing either. But I can see where you're coming from and I don't blame you!

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  4. Yikes - thoughts of either send chills down my back (and not in a good way).

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  5. Wow. I can't even imagine being in front of a bunch of people with my book. That's crazy!

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  6. Hi Karen! I'd much rather do a presentation and be more proactive then sit there, waiting for someone to ask me to dance... or sign. It seems so painful!

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  7. That does sound scary.
    A fellow author at my small publishing house, Diane Wolfe, has been advising me on promotional stuff. She said bookstores just don't pay anymore either, and she prefers speaking engagements. Not sure I can do that, so here's hoping I can do most of my promoting online!

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  8. Alex, I've heard this from many people, both authors and booksellers. It's just not worth it anymore. Except at Costco. Don't ever turn down a signing there!

    Talli, they're so painful I'm amazed that anyone even wants to do it anymore. Although it's ok for a launch, I think, where you can invite everyone you know. That's what David did, and his were not painful.

    Kayeleen, Yes! Imagine it! And I'm trying to imagine a roomful of people for mine now instead of just a dozen or less.

    Jaydee, and you thought the writing was tough lol!

    Shelley, the first few presentations were really hard, but then they got easier, like everything i guess. The signings don't get easier because I stopped doing them :)

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  9. Hi Karen, you described the book signing so well, that flat hair thing so true in every situation in life where we have to be on show.
    I would imagine that the presentation style would suit you, look forward to seeing one in Dublin WHEN you're famous !! We have some lovely friendly independent bookstores here.

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  10. And didn't some celebrity get punched at a book-signing recently? It's obviously a health risk, anyway. Oh, yes, I remember now. It was Leona Lewis.

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  11. Fran, who is Leona Lewis? No danger in me getting punched. People are too busy ignoring me lol!

    Brigid, I can only dream of touring the UK doing presentations. At least I know all my lovely blogging friends would welcome me!

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  12. To funny about the eighth grade graduation dance analogy. I haven't had book signings yet (being unpublished), but I totally get the part where you look at the pictures later and see you don't look as cute as you thought you did. Ack! It's great you enjoy presentations!

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  13. I think I'd face a book-signing with a mixture of excitement and intense insecurity. I guess a launch is also different because if your promotion has been done properly, there'll at least be reviewers and media there.

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  14. I haven't been to a presentation, but I have been to a book-signing and I can see what you mean. The signing I went to was in the author's former hometown, so she had a base group of friends there, which was good. I think I'd like the presentation better, though I'm sure I'd be a nervous wreck at first!

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  15. Honestly, I cringe at the thought of either. But, I'm really good at sucking it up when I have to ;)

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  16. I can definitely see the appeal of a presentation over a signing, especially given your comparison to the desperation of a teenager at a dance. Yeah, I think if I ever get to that point I'll find I also prefer presentations.

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  17. I will make a note...if I ever need it...presentation more enjoyable then book signings. Thanks Karen

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  18. Wow! You just saved me a lot of trouble. I haven't done any "signings" yet but have been to some of my friends. And, yes, the one's in bookstores are nervewracking. I'd been considering a coffee shop or an art gallery instead. And I love the way you put it" "of sharing and story telling" a proactive method as opposed to a reactive method. What a great post to save authors a great deal of stress and disappointment.

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  19. Re: bookstore signings. I went to one almost ten years ago in St. George for author Marilyn Arnold, and it was pretty bleak. My daughter and I and only a few of Marilyn's friends showed. Compare this to a presentation I went to, also in St. George where Colleen Whitley, Author/Editor of some wonderful historical books published through Utah University Press, was speaking. She drew a pretty good crowd, captive students though they be, and some others too. Everyone seemed to enjoy her very lively presentation, and she got paid for the gig.

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  20. Karen, until you mentioned the agony of sitting at a signing a bunch of posts back, I never thought about that part of it. I agree with you - I'd rather give a presentation than just be there for a signing. If you're comparing it to an 8th-grade dance... shudder.

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  21. This is SO funny, having just been in this situation! You are so right about all of this! I did my book signing at a local B&N because I've grown up here and I knew a lot of people would come. It turned out great - much, much better than the bookstore expected.

    I don't know if I'll do another one, though. I think for the most part they don't pay off in terms of time. My publisher is trying to get me to speak at conferences and such. How do you go about getting presentations to speak at? Where do you do them?

    I'm glad you found me, and now I have to go peruse the rest of your blog so I can get to know you a little better! :)

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