Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Horrors of Dark Marketing, part 4: Book Signings

Posted by LD Keach on Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sure, there are worse tortures than the dreaded book signing. Say, for instance, being force fed fire ants or gargling hot gravel. Swimming naked through fiberglass. Selling used cars. Lots of things are more painful than sitting behind a table, alone in a vacant bookstore, weeping into a pile of print-on-demand copies—but are any of these things going to help us sell our book?

Probably not.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should say that I've never actually done a book signing. I've never actually stuffed glass up my eyelids, either. Mostly, I've just seen other small press and indie writers sitting behind that table, alone in that vacant bookstore, trying not to weep, and it's broken my heart. Who would do such a thing to themselves? Why would a perfectly sane (or saneish) writer make themselves go out into the cold world and physically present themselves to the lack of audience so they can meet their misery face to face?

To sell books? Are we such desperate creatures that we shall fling ourselves over the altar of public perception so the unforgiving overlord of pop culture can carve our heart out with a jagged blade?

Well, sure.

But do we have to leave the house? Leaving the house can be hard on a writer.

I don't know how well book signings work towards building an audience. There are lots of how-to people who say signings are an integral part of the marketing process—but those are also often the how-to people who make it sound like publishing is like rolling in petunias. So easy! And sweet smelling! But take into account the fact that I'd have to change my pajamas, face the sun, and attempt some semblance of human interaction, then the book signing may not be worth it. Sure, lots of people just walk past my book on the bookshelves, but do I really need to sit there and watch them doing it?

For writers who already have a following, however small or large, the book signing is vital. Connecting with the people who buy your book is the least you can do. They've given you their time and their dreams in reading your stuff, not to mention, a reason to keep writing. Cherish that dearly! Write them a little note with your signature, or better yet, take them all out for ice cream. Only a small percentage of writers get that sacred symbiotic relationship with more than a handful of readers, so put them up on a pedestal and never let them down.

But until we find such a publishing miracle, it's best to just hang out on the internet. Where it's safe. be continued again!