This and That – Observations from the Couch
by Patricia Grady Cox
Since I last wrote, I’ve had two book signings for my newly released novel, Hellgate. One was in May in Rhode Island where I lived for the first 40 years of my life. A lovely independent bookstore in Providence, Books on the Square, hosted the event. The manager was happy with the turnout (relatives, friends, former coworkers, high school classmates), the sales were good, and I’m invited back when my next novel is published. I invited most of the attendees to a “launch party” of sorts at my sister’s house at which I drank several glasses of wine.
The second was in May in Prescott, Arizona, at the Peregrine Book Company. I especially looked forward to that one because Hellgate is set in 1879 Prescott. A lovely article appeared in the Daily Courier that morning which drove at least 10 people into the store. That, along with the five or six people that I knew, made a big enough turnout and enough sales that the book store owner was pleased.
Between the two dates, I was sick. I think I caught some kind of bug on the plane between Rhode Island and Phoenix. Whatever the cause, I spent the intervening two weeks mostly lying around the house with Mustang Sally and also with a puppy I was petsitting for a friend. I had time to ponder, and here is the wisdom I gained:
- I wish I had given birth to a soap opera baby instead of doing it the way I did. Birthing those babies leaves you radiant and beautiful and well-rested, smiling and happy. Maybe a few strands of hair work loose and hang endearingly down your cheeks so the adoring father can sweetly tuck them back behind your ears. The next day, you are back to your pre-pregnancy weight. And the baby never cries or even moves. Also, I understand that they grow up very quickly, leaping from infancy to cute toddlers; then they’re off to boarding school. They do not return until they are young adults. That would have worked well for me, too.
- Ice cream cannot solve your problems but it CAN make you feel better.
- Mustang Sally is jealous of visiting puppies, but in a very polite way. She is patient but disinterested and only exhibits jealousy by bursting into tears whenever I pay attention to the interloper. She will eat the puppy’s food if I turn my back for even two seconds, probably trying to starve it to death.
- You can go for two weeks without writing a single word or cleaning a single room and the world does not come to an end.
- Having to guard the puppy food and accompany the little guest outside at least 10 times a day, I’ve been cured of any desire to acquire a second dog. Sally did try to play tug-o-war with they puppy, but as soon as she growled (which she does when she plays), the puppy dropped her end of the toy and ran for it.
But this is a marketing blog, so let me say this about book signings: I realize they are good opportunities to get out there, get your name known, benefit from the publicity through book store newsletters and, if you’re lucky enough to have a friend who works for a newspaper, land you lovely articles about your event (and your books). Both bookstores wanted to work on consignment, so I ended up earning 60 to 70 percent of the list price. That might seem generous, and it would have been, except I that had to purchase these books from the publisher! So my cut quickly went down to about $5 a book.
Subtract from my $5 any travel expenses and promotional materials, such as a poster, business cards, bookmarks, cookies, etc. And in Rhode Island, I also sprang for refreshments for my launch party. I’m not even going to do the math; I know it’s a financial loss. My royalties are now about $2.50 a book, but I don’t have to go anywhere or do anything to collect that.
Writers, do you think there are benefits reaped from a book signing? What have your experiences been?
If you are a reader, not a writer, what do you think? Do you enjoy attending book signings? Do they result in your buying a book you might not have otherwise purchased?