Friday, May 14, 2010

The Ups and Downs of Book Signings

One of the things I'm asked most often by readers is if I'm planning to do a reading or signing in their area any time soon. There's no schedule for me to check. I know the answer. The answer is pretty much always no because I haven't done a book store reading in quite some time. It's not that I'm fundamentally opposed to it, I just haven't been asked and haven't sought it either. I would never say no to the opportunity, but I'm not the kind of person who would go out their way to line up a bunch of appearances.

I know these can be a great way to meet with your audience and to promote a book. But I have mixed feelings about personally doing them. Why you ask? Well, I'll tell you.

  • I've done book store visits where I've read to two people. (Living a scene from Spinal Tap is a sure blow to the ego).
  • I write books for teenagers. Most book stores don't know how to get teens to such events.
  • I've done readings where the audience was made up of people who just happened to finishing their coffee and had little or no interest, leaving me to feel like an idiot.
  • Though I'm a fluent reader and fairly good at it (I don't. do. the slow. reading. like this. that so many. authors. do. because they. think. it sounds poetic.) But that said, I'm not a performer. I'm writer. Writer's by their nature are hermits and observers among crowds.
  • I find that when I do well attended readings with real fans, it can be uncomfortable being in a celebrity position. There is this level of expectation to be a certain way and fans tend to get question shy.
This isn't to say I haven't done readings that weren't wonderful experiences. Once, I got a great line from a girl's t-shirt that I used in Thief. I've met some great authors who I've appeared with. And all the children's book readings (mostly in classrooms) I've done have been a lot of fun. But all in all, I prefer to "meet" my audience via email where they are more comfortable and frankly, so am I.

Any other writers out there feel this way? Or am I just channeling my inner J.D.?

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