Thursday, April 14, 2011

Ten Lies to Tell an Author

What do you think is the most important thing for an author at a book signing? Apart from a pen that works. (Though I sat through one bookstore event where my pen was never needed, not once). But other than that? Chocolate? Bookmarks? Bottled water? All good things to have. But the best thing is a fun neighbor. Because for most of the two hours that these signings typically last, you will have nothing to do, so you might as well have an enjoyable conversation.

A good seat mate has the added benefit of helping one not to look too desperate as readers pass by one’s table, avoiding eye contact. If you aren’t in the big leagues the readers aren’t exactly lining up for your signature. I don’t even care (much) if no one buys a book, but it’s nice if people stop to chat.

Then I think of it from the point of view of the book buyer. You can’t buy everyone’s book. You don’t want to buy everyone’s book. And you don’t want to get guilt-tripped into spending more than you intended and ending up with an even more out-of-control TBR pile. You’re actually kind of interested in that particular book and you like the cover. If you were alone in a book store you’d pick it up, read the blurb and maybe read a page or two. But the author is sitting in front of you looking pathetic. If you look at the book isn’t it rude not to buy it?

No, it isn’t. As an author I’d rather you looked at my book and put it down again, than scurried by in case you hurt my feelings. Heck, I’d be perfectly happy if you’d stop and talk about the weather. So please, next time you are at a book signing as a buyer, either at a conference or in a bookstore, stop, look, and chat. You don’t need to buy a book. If you cannot bring yourself to leave without saying something, I recommend one of the following lies.


(in descending order of author popularity)

1. I have all your books already and I loved every one of them.
2. I only read electronically. I’ll buy it on my Kindle when I get home
3. I’ve already bought too many books but I’ll get yours next time I’m in Barnes & Noble.
4. I always wait till the last book of the series comes out and then I buy them all.
5. Tell me about your next book. That sounds really interesting. I’ll wait for that.
6. It’s been nice meeting you. I shall follow your career with interest.
7. I’m taking a break from [name your genre] and only reading [name another genre]
8. I never read books with blond heroines.
9. My husband made me swear I wouldn’t bring home any more six-pack covers.
10. Where’s the bathroom?

If you live in the Boston area and wish to practice your lying, later this month I shall be the New England Romance Writers Conference at the Hawthorne Hotel in Salem, MA. A book fair, with over forty romance writers, will run from 4:00 pm to 5:30 pm on Saturday, April 30th. I’d love to have you stop by and tell me a lie. Failing that, tell me one in the comments section.