A Book Signing Disappointment

On Saturday, 11/21, I did a book signing at my local branch library. To say it was a disappointment would be an understatement. More like a minor disaster. But let me begin at the beginning.

The local library has for several years held a local authors fair, always in the fall. I’ve never been able to participate due to schedule conflicts but, this year, it looked like I’d be available. So, in July I paid my $20 registration fee and provided the requisite two copies of the book that they’d make available in the library, and sat back to wait for the November event.

Several weeks prior to the event, the library staff member who was responsible for organizing the event sent out by distribution e-mail advertising the event and listing the participating authors. My name was missing as, I later learned, was at least that of one other author. I e-mailed the staffer, who apologized but sent out no revised list. After a couple of weeks, I sent another e-mail but still saw no revised list. Finally, I sent a third e-mail, after which I learned that she had, in fact, made the correction but only on the library’s website. No distribution e-mail ever went out.

As the time for the event approached, no local publicity appeared, and on the day of the event there was no prominent signage at the library. Desk staff did not direct library visitors to the “Community Room” where the event was being held. In the room, itself, staff at first said that table assignments for the authors would be forthcoming. Then they said to sit wherever we wanted.

The signing was to begin at 10 AM. At that time, the only people there were the authors. Undaunted, the event organizer got up and gave a welcome speech addressed to the authors and to the attendees.

Over the three hours of the signing, there was minimal foot traffic – how could it have been otherwise with no publicity, no effective signage, and no attempts by staff to direct traffic to the room? I sold one book. Someone else sold three. Of the fifty participating authors, many sold none.

The event ended at 1 PM. No one from the library was present to thank the authors. We all just packed up and left.

And that, dear friends, is how not to run a book signing. I compare it to how a signing that I did at Vroman’s the big bookstore in Pasadena, ran a signing I attended. Well advertised. Four authors, not fifty. Each of us given time in front of an audience to speak and/or read from our book, followed by the four of us as a panel to answer questions. And then? Yes, the signing. Now, that’s how to do it.

As a self-published, little known author, it’s a tough enough row to hoe to get noticed. In this case my local library’s intentions were admirable, but the execution was execrable. Well, maybe next year…

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