Wednesday, 4 February 2009
Fear of Book Signings
During my lunch hour I worked up the nerve to visit my local Chapters bookstore to inquire about selling my book on consignment. I took my one remaining copy of Bad Ice, a typed press release and a letter of introduction with me. I packaged the whole thing in a pocket folder with a dark blue marble pattern that looks like the scarred surface of a pond on a cold Canadian day.
The consignment manager wasn't in, but another manager was kind enough to take my kit and give me information. She flipped through the book, inspected the back and asked if it was fiction. I assured her it was, and pointed out the press release containing a blurb and the two reviews I had received so far. *Note to self: beg for more reviews*
She apparently liked what she saw and suggested I coordinate the consignment and my upcoming newspaper profile with a book signing.
My heart lurched at the mention of a book signing. She must have seen the fear in my eyes and assured me, "Oh, it's easy. Our schedule isn't too full and you can book it a couple of weeks in advance. We put a table right at the front and put up some posters."
I've seen the posters. I've also read horrifying accounts of authors left sitting by themselves with hordes of shoppers avoiding eye contact. I've also heard about signings when the author only brought twenty books and a hundred people showed up. What to do?
I asked, "What comes first, the chicken or the egg? Do I get the newspaper article out first and then schedule the signing?"
She suggested I make the signing shortly after the newspaper article. Many authors have had profiles in the local paper but never informed the bookstore. When customers came in asking for the book, the poor staff had no idea what they were talking about.
My other dilemma is book supply. Since Chapters has a strict ordering protocol, I still haven't seen Bad Ice on their database. Therefore it is up to me to supply the books. I'm still waiting for my shipment of 15 books that I ordered back in December. My publisher is chasing down the order right now.
It wouldn't be a problem if it didn't cost me megabucks in shipping to order my author copies. Then the bookstore takes 45% of the cover price. This is the part that confuses me. At first glance, I'm actually paying to allow my readers to enjoy Bad Ice.
Hmm.... maybe I can write it off in my taxes as a loss. At least local readers will be able to read a book with a familiar setting. Plus, if I get lots of inquiries, Chapters might put Bad Ice on their database.
I have yet to hear from the consignment manager. Is fifteen copies too much or not enough? Should I order more? Will they order directly from the publisher if sales go well?
This is all new to me. I'm basically going into this on my own and I'm scared as all heck, but I'm goin' in.