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Bob Nailor




Truth in Signing

We've all seen them, those movies where the author is scheduled to appear, do a small reading, talk a little about the book and then, graciously sit at a small table laden with stacked copies of the book to sign. Oh, I forgot to mention, starting at the table and and snaking an impatient path through the store are hundreds of fans pushing and shoving to have their fleeting chance of a few precious moments in your presence.

Yeah, Hollywood dreams at their best.

Let me tell you, it don't happen that way UNLESS you're in that 1% (yes, ONE per cent) of authors who have sold millions of copies and even then, that line may be limited in most cases.

The other day I had an opportunity to share in a writing event where a total of 21 authors presented their wares. I'll be honest, most were what I would call "One-book wonders" but that doesn't matter. One book, ten books. You are still an author.

Over one hundred (100) people milled through the array of writers and their books they offered. Not bad for a first-time event. Writers hustled their books, talking to the public as they perused the tables.

I'll be honest. I had my latest book proudly displayed and also offered a few of my older scribblings for a total of eight (8) novels. People stopped and I stood and talked with potential customers.

I sold one (1) book and it was on how to write science fiction. I had a chapter within that fine book. Surprisingly, I'm one of the few authors who actually sold something. I know of one author who traded two copies of her book for two copies of another author's books does that count as sales? In truth, I believe the only author who "sold" more copies than all the rest was the one giving away his book for a donation to the Cleveland Cancer Center.

Book signings, as Hollywood portrays them, are unreal for the "Dove" majority. What does "Dove" mean? 99 44/100 per cent, if you've ever listened to their ads. My last solo book signing had approximately seven (7) people show and I sold three (3) books. The one prior to that? I had a total of twenty-two people attend and I sold eight (8) books. The one before that was dismal: two attendees, zilch books sold. In fact, I vividly remember my very first book signing. If you count my family who showed to rally me on, I had a total of eleven people at my event. Removing my family from the equation, there were only four who showed. Still, I was able to sell five copies and give a complimentary copy to the library. My sister-in-law was adamant she was going to be the first supporter of my writing career and wouldn't allow me to give her a book.

BUT, I have learned with each signing, there are tricks to the trade.

The above won't guarantee a great book signing, but it will definitely help. I wish you long lines but don't be disheartened by sitting alone. By the way, practicing your autograph is a waste of time if you don't know how to write your name by this time, practicing isn't going to help.




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~ COMMENTS ~

Scott Bury
2015-07-20
Thanks for the tips, and for the honest description of what really happens at most book signings. If we hope for Hollywood-style events, we're going to be badly disappointed.
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Bob Nailor
2015-07-20
Unfortunately, one author at the last event really felt people would be clamoring for his book. He was extremely disappointed when he packed all his book that night - no sales.
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Lisa M. Collins
2015-07-20
I have been hearing from authors about how slow signings have started to become. I think part of that is the digital revolution. But one author said to me they were just about to pack up and leave the show...the one they were at had even less people show up, and at that moment a fan showed up. Bought copies of the 3rd in all her trilogies and even brought her other books to be signed. Sometimes it is all worth it for that one fan.
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Bob Nailor
2015-07-20
It is all about that one fan. They are the best.
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Kenna McKinnon
2015-07-20
I'm scheduled for a book fair in August and haven't had a lot of success with book signings, this is very good information. Perhaps some of it is common sense but I forget my common sense when in a group situation! Another thing, please remember to bring change for that odd occasion when actually selling a book! Thanks for this, I enjoyed reading it.
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Bob Nailor
2015-07-20
I forgot to mention that aspect - must add it to the list. Thanks for reminding me. I priced my books at even breaks like $5, $10, $12 and $15. Actually, I only had one book at $12. Still, I made sure I had $50 in one dollar bills and $75 in five dollar bills. It may seem overkill, but I was short change at one book signing and another book signing found two other authors begging change from me. I'd rather have too much than not enough.
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Elyse Salpeter
2015-07-20
UGH, just one book, but unfortunately, that seems to be the way it is. But I saw the photos - they were GREAT. You did a lovely table. It's about the experience... just keep saying that to yourself.
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Bob Nailor
2015-07-20
Elyse, it was experience but I found it was more about getting my name out in the public eye. Most of the attendees were intrigued by my writing genres: science fiction, fantasy, adventure, thriller, horror and well, this one threw them, Amish Christian. It seemed many couldn't wrap their minds around the concept. Thank goodness I had the book reviews to back me up!
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