Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Necessary Evil

A friend commented the other day that I sounded like I hadn't enjoyed myself at a recent book signing I participated in. Hmm.

I wonder if writers ever enjoy book signings. These days publishers and book distributors want to know our marketing plan that involves actually showing our faces in brick and mortar stores before they’ll even read our proposals. But come on. Does any writer look forward to signings? If you have at least one book on the store shelves and have done no less than 5 in-store signings and still relish the opportunity to do it again, please write to me and put me in my place.

I always appreciate the chance to get out from behind my desk to meet readers, even in bookstore settings. Though I much prefer libraries or book fairs or standing on a street corner or nearly anyplace other than a store where they put me behind a table and muzzle me. I don't do muzzling well.

If you believe I’m the odd man out on this issue, consider the last few movies made based on Stephen King books that involved writers who lost their marbles. (Have you noticed he’s doing a lot of those lately?) Most of these movies depict at least one scene in which the writer is in a bookstore doing a signing. The staff does not recognize him and the readers barely acknowledge his presence.

Apparently Mr. King remembers those days early in his career. Maybe they still happen. I have read of well-known writers who still have no one show up for their signings.

But I apologize if I come off sounding less than enthusiastic about the chance to meet readers. It’s definitely one of the most fun things about what I do. I love to talk about writing and to encourage new writers and discuss ideas for new work with readers. I always learn something at these events. I like meeting people and I generally have a good time. Something good always comes from participating in a book signing.

I have one coming up this weekend in West Chester, Ohio. If you’ll be near Lakota West High School on Union Centre Road, maybe you’ll stop in and say hi. I’d love to talk to you and further discuss the merits of bookstore signings. Maybe you can change my mind.

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