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.


  1. Lies I'm looking for if I ever get to do a signing:

    I love your shoes.
    You don't look old enough to write this stuff.
    Wow, this is THE most interesting book. I'm going to tell ALL my friends about it.
    I'm going to go and tweet about your book right now.

    My fav Q~Do you validate?

  2. @Anonymous
    1. Shoes are usually invisible behind fabric covered tables.
    2. You don't.
    3. I'll say that to you when you are published.
    4. Ditto.

    Authors don't validate. Talk to your shrink.

  3. This is funny but I would not have to lie! I would love to buy anybooks you had out! I would probabbly bring my old ones in for you to sign! When are you coming to Oregon!? LOL!

  4. Wait, where's 11? You know, I love Richard Armiage, too! Wait, I think I see him just over there...gotta run. ;)

  5. Ugh. Stupid "t" that didn't type out on iPad!

  6. Julianne - I'd love to come up to come up to Salem, MA to meet you but I live in Southern Rhode Island and it's such a big state that the distance is so far by the time I stopped for lunch and then to pick up a cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee it would the next day before I got there. After all I would have to drive about 15 miles just to get to Providence and Salem is even further away.

    I'm a Rhode Islander and if we drive more than 40 miles we've left the state! (Last paragraph is the only thing that true except it is 15 miles from where I live to Providence).

  7. @Johanna. I have never been to Oregon and I'd really like to. Maybe for a conference some day.

    @Elyssa. 1. I recognized the word without the "t"
    2. That's a dangerous lie to tell me because you might get trampled when I try to get there first.

    @Jeanne. You clearly need no lessons in prevarication. But if you'd like to come up to Salem I'd be thrilled to see you, and that's no lie.

  8. LOVE this. I'll be at Turn the Page that Friday, signing with Nora Roberts and a host of other authors before the WRW retreat. It's a great event, but, well, I suppose you can guess I'm not the main attraction. I'm just happy if I can persuade anyone waiting in line for Nora or the other authors to look at my bookmark.

  9. Well, you'll probably never see this since I am late to the party but I am glad that you realize that those guilty-looking passersby aren't ignoring you. They just hate admitting that they haven't read your book! And, if they're anything like me--they have already spent their coupon/budget/quota for this visit and don't want to hurt your feelings. Looking forward to reading about the Amorous Education of Celia!