This previous Wednesday I enjoyed my first – and, I hope, not last – book signing as an author. I’ve attended a signing on the other end before. Bruce Campbell signed my copy of “If Chins Could Kill.” Good guy, Bruce. But this time I was holding the pen.
Things From Another World, the Portland store, hosted the signing. I don’t know if the free munchies and beer served as a greater draw than I did, but the event appeared well attended. My thanks to those who organized the event, especially Elizabeth Allie.
In the aftermath I’ve had time to consider the evening. I’ve realized a few things.
One: I’m not a schmoozer. Polite chit-chat is not a skill I’ve mastered. I have friends I like to have along during social events because they possess this ability and can pick up the slack. But as the headliner I couldn’t resort to social surrogates. I think I winged it tolerably well, as long as I kept the conversation short. Which brings me to:
Two. It is a delicate matter parcelling out your attention when more than one person wishes to speak with you. The point of the signing is to allow an opportunity for readers to meet the author. You want to provide sufficient time to the patron who has gone to all the trouble to attend the signing, you want him to feel he’s met the author. At the same time you want to parcel out your conversational availability. Some folks are oblivious to such niceties, unconcerned they may be monopolizing someone’s time at the expense of others who’d like to have a word. What’s the cut off? How do you transition from one dialogue to another without giving offense? Is it best to invite the waiting third party into the conversation? But what if he’d rather discuss another topic?
Three. Perhaps next time I should avail myself of the free beer before anyone shows up. The same fine points of etiquette will remain as will my phatic communication shortcomings. But I’m less likely to care.
Four. Bringing along my daughter was an excellent idea. People like babies, especially adorable ones like Victoria Valentina. But her future employment in this capacity will probably be venue dependent. Oh well.
Five. I like signing books. I like the personal connection, seeing the person who’s going to read the novel. It beats the anonymity of looking at Amazon statistics, wondering who these faceless numbers are and if they’re going to like the story
Anyway, that’s what I’ve been chewing on. I believe I have another signing in July, signing with a few other authors. We’ll see if I’ve learned anything.