I have the unique perspective of being a published writer while also working in a small, independent bookstore so I get to see the ins and outs of a signing/appearance from both sides of the door. And let me tell you, it isn't often pretty.
Take for instance a call I got yesterday from a prospective signer. This was a local woman who has self-published a children's book. She has never been in our store. Never. But she had seen an article in the local newspaper about the *annual* Kid Lit Festival we are having this weekend. She wanted to know how she could get in on the signings we were holding.
Give me credit. I did not tell her what I really wanted to say. I merely suggested that it was too late for her to participate this year, but she could send us information for participation for next year.
For some odd reason, she got rather upset with me. I mean, come on. We've been planning this three-day event for a year. The NATIONALLY known authors we have coming have been on the slate for almost a year. The promotional material went out at least two months ago. The sponsors and events have been planned down to the smallest detail. And she calls two days before it all starts and wants in on the fun? I'm sorry. What part of "get a clue" doesn't she get?
It's like the booksigning I took part in several weeks ago. This is an event at another store that is also planned a year in advance. Things like this are not put together overnight.
We've also had authors cancel on us at the last minute. Okay, we all understand emergencies crop up. But one author cancelled the day of her signing because she was able to get booked into a larger store. Guess where she's never going to sign? Yep. You got it.
So, for those of you who are authors out there, a few words of advice:
1. Get to know your local bookseller, preferrably before your book is published.
2. If you set up an event, try to get there. If not, give a decent reason, not just because you found a better spot.
3. Keep in touch with the event planner. They welcome your input.
4. During the event, do NOT tell people they can find your book cheaper at another store! (Yes, this happened)
5. Tell people about your event. Don't make the event planner do ALL the work.
6. Please, don't be a diva and expect a huge crowd. There are times when even the rich and famous authors only have a few people show up. It happens.
7. Plan to do more than just signing. Do a talk. A workshop. Smile. Meet and Greet. And if all someone wants to know is the directions to the bathroom, grin and point the way.
8. Bring promo materials, but make sure you have something for the bookstore to put their name on things too. After all, they're sponsoring you. It helps to be nice to them.
9. You don't need to be there hours ahead of time - it makes the bookseller nervous and feel that they have to entertain you, but don't be late either. And No Shows are a definite no-no (except under extreme emergency conditions).
10. Bring extra copies of your book, just in case the bookseller runs out.
Lastly, have fun. And keep writing! And for all you readers, keep reading and buying books. :)