Things to Do at a Dead Book Signing

Bring the magpies
Stack of Gold

A couple of weeks ago, I set out for my first book signing full of hope. I got to the book store early, lugged in three boxes of books, set up my table, stocked my cash box with correct change, then sat down—pens at the ready—and waited. Despite my and the store’s promotional efforts, only about twenty-five people drifted through over the next three hours. Apparently there was a Michigan vs. Ohio football game on—something I had overlooked. Even so I made one sale, and if even one more person is reading your book, you’ve expanded your readership. I also learned a few things: Keep an eye on the football schedule; People generally turn right when they walk into a store unless they already know where they are going. If you are set up on the left side of the store, and the customers enter right then circle left around the floor plan, they will have made their purchases before reaching your spot. If given a choice, set up on the right side of a store; It is hard to look interesting or remotely intelligent as part of a static display, have something to do. With this in mind I have the following suggestions:

  1. Write something. People will assume you are scribbling away at your next book and it might draw them in. If you can be writing your next book then it’s time well spent.
  2. Build castles out of peanut butter cups. This will attract hungry people, tinkerers and kids. They flock to the gold wrappers like magpies, and if they eat one of your building blocks…well, then they kind of owe you; they’ll have to pick up your book for at least a glance. Have a thumb-through copy at hand that you don’t mind getting chocolate on.

Anyhow, I must extend my thanks to 2nd and Charles bookstore for hosting me, even if it was a quiet time for both of us.

A Dream of Steam releases on Monday.