Sunday, October 21, 2007

Book signing in Staines

I have read in numerous books on writing and self publishing about the infamous highs and lows that all authors have to experience, but I don't think I have ever experienced it to the degree that I did yesterday.

Yesterday was of course my long awaited book signing at Waterstones in Staines. Coran and I went to the shop a few days in advance to make sure we knew where it was, and see if there was anything that we would need to bring with us, and found that it would be a good idea to print some colour flyers, since the store only has a black and white printer (other authors take note) and nothing had been put in the window - just flyers at the tills.

I am not quite sure though what happened, but the crowd that I had been promised did not materialise. A friend of mine teaches meditation in the town, and also runs a dancing school. She could not attend herself, since she has dance classes on Saturdays, but told a lot of her students who all said they could not wait to get a copy - one in fact didn't want to wait and ordered one from the store a couple of weeks ago. You can imagine my disappointment then when not one of them turned up. I don't know what the problem was, whether it was a mix up over dates or times maybe, but have emailed her to find out and see if she can shed any light on what may have happened. So far I have not heard back and I don't expect to until Wednesday when she has her next group (assuming they meet during half term week).

I was hoping that as the day grew nearer, they would put at least something in the window, but when Coran and I got to the store around 10.25am there was still nothing. I though had printed some myself using one of those £10 DTP things that you can get from Staples, and as it happens they looked very good and eye catching. These were duly posted then in the window and at various places around the store (including one which was bluetacked to the front of my table!).

I found that they had given me a small round table right by the store entrance, underneath a lovely wall heater. They had arranged the books neatly on top, and so I covered the table with my Egyptian white and gold scarf and rearranged the books on top with postcards, business cards and pens. I also brought some cards with me from the recent MBS weekend of quotes from the book, as I thought that that might add a little something.

Although Rebecca had organised the event, a lady called Fran was in charge of the two of us, and made us both a lovely cup of tea while we set up, which was most welcome!

The books themlesves only arrived on Thursday, so there had not been time for much of a display in the days and weeks leading up the event which was also rather disappointing. They only ordered them in fact 2 1/12 weeks before and it was touch and go as to whether they would even arrive at all, since I had had a really good week and Gardners sold out of stock. Normally this would have been good, but with a book signing coming up, in this instance it wasn't....

I though had also brough a large batch of postcards with me, which I get printed free of charge from VistaPrint, and so once I had finished my tea, I left Coran sitting at the table keeping an eye on things while I walked round the store and acosted people ! Some came over to look, remarked that it looked interesting and then promptly walked off again - I am getting used to people that do that. Some who were browsing the MBS section took postcards and thanked me and then didn't come and say hello either.... One very nice couple though bought a copy for their son who has recently graduated from university with a philosophy degree. This is just the sort of person I am trying to reach.

I was in there then for a total of around an hour and a half and in that time, despite my best efforts sold just the one book - very disappointing indeed. The photographer from the local paper though, the Staines edition of the Surrey Herald turned up though and took some photographs, which brought some more very strange 'looks interesting but not enough to buy' types over to the table to look. The picture will be in next weeks edition and he gave me the number to ring for them to send me a free copy, so it can be added to my portfolio.

Before I left the store asked me to sign all the remaining copies, which hopefully now means that they can't be sent back .... They shall then remain in stock until sold. Quite a lot of people did take postcards, so you never know, plus those girls who didn't show can still this way get their signed copies without my having to come back again (it is a 56 mile round trip). The local paper coverage will hopefully generate further interest as well.

Afterwards Coran and I went to Pizza Hut for lunch, and talked a little bit about what had happened and the importance of approaching these things without expectations. How though are you supposed to do that when you have been assured that people will be there? I compared it to one of Coran's clients telling him that they would call at a certain time and then not doing so, or even the experience of waiting in for a parcel. When someone tells you to expect something, you do wonder why when they don't follow through on that, and personally (I know this is probably my ego talking) I think I deserve an explantion. I am tired of being let down by people. I don't behave this way and so don't expect others to, maybe though I have higher standards than other people, I think sometimes I must do.

After we had finished lunch, Coran wanted to go and have a look round the shops, but I just wanted to get home. I went back to the car then and waited for him there, and it was just about all I could do not to burst into tears. I do find it very hard though to do this and let go, especially in a busy car park with kids bouncing around in the car next to you (the dad had actually left them unattended in the drivers seat can you believe).

I have learnt several things though from the day - firsrly that you can't rely on people you don't actually know to turn up, secondly that you can't assume either that the store will pull out all the stops to help you, and contacting the local newspaper is not sufficient publicity. Next time I will contact more local media (in particular radio) at least one month to six weeks in advance and send the store publicity materials for their displays (and ring to make sure they are received and being used). It is though all a learning experience, and one more hurdle that I have overcome. Now I have done a book signing I will be better prepared for the next one and know what to expect.

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