What Not To Do Wednesday on Book-Signings

ImageFirst of all, grasshopper, I’d like to say that largely, the book-signing was a success! I sold plenty of books and had quite a chunk of change to donate to my church. And I had a ton of fun, visiting with new friends like Rowena Cala and old friends like Debra Mayhew (and her cute cohorts!).

But of course, being the very human me that I am, I made mistakes. And I shall go forth and learn from them. Perhaps you will learn a thing or two as well.

One cannot, of course, control the weather. But one must use common sense when it comes to weather conditions when a book-signing event is held in the great outdoors. 

For instance, if it’s very, very windy, one’s sign (a glorious sign, by the way) might fall over. Constantly. And one might find oneself tending to a sign. Again and again and again. Unless one had the forethought to bring something as simple as Packing Tape. Or perhaps stable objects to bolster the sign (Books and a rather large purse are not as stable as you might think. After all, I had to sell the books.).

I had plenty of suggestions from the peanut gallery as to what I should have done about the sign. And I can tell you what I thought about doing with the sign. But ultimately, I just bore up (and the sign fell down) until the wind swooshed out of the festival. (Approximately one hour before it was officially over.)

Also, if it’s very, very warm (along with the wind), one might not want to bring chocolate kisses. (Not that folks will not eat smushy chocolate kisses. They will, very happily. In fact, I think kids rather prefer gooey chocolate. I’m not so sure their mothers feel the same way.)

The most interesting What Not To Do, though, involved my preconceived notions about Chicken Soup for the Soul books. I assumed that most people understood how these books worked–that the books were a collection of stories, and my story would be one among a hundred others.

Many people were familiar with the brand, but there were just as many who were being introduced to these books for the first time. And at first, I didn’t quite understand that people didn’t quite understand. So I’m afraid, grasshopper, that I wasn’t really doing my job.


Rowena buys a book.

At some point, I realized that it was not enough to just sit there, smiling prettily and saying that I had a story in each of the books I was selling and hoping the sign would work for me. I had to…oh, what’s the word? 

Oh, yeah. SELL the book. When I stopped long enough to talk about Chicken Soup books, explaining how I happened to be in them–that I was a writer–and talked about my stories, I connected with folks. It’s true that I sold a handful of books to friends who came specifically to buy a book from me. But I sold the other handful to people who were passing by, folks I didn’t know (or know well) who were “hooked” by my individual stories rather than the book itself.

So, bottom line, don’t have a book-signing unless you’re prepared to do the selling that goes along with it. Your voice might be a bit worn out, your smile might feel a bit bedraggled, but when all is said and done, grasshopper, it’s well worth it!


14 thoughts on “What Not To Do Wednesday on Book-Signings

  1. Thanks for all the info, Ms. Cathy C! I am amazed there were people there who’d never heard of, or didn’t know much about Chicken Soup books! Sheesh! Poor you, too, about the wind and the heat. I’d say you definitely earned your money….whether you kept any of it or not! AND, I bet you got the idea about choc kisses from Linda O….or it was YOU who gave HER the idea! P.S. I haven’t stopped by in WAY too long….and your worm on a fish line scared me!! Out of the corner of my eye, I thought there was a big bug on my screen! LOL

    • Hahahahaa! I can definitely see how the worm would sneak up on you, Becky! Sorry! And yes, I was surprised, too, Becky, about the CS books, but then again, I hang out with a lot of writerly folk, both online and offline. Non-writerly folk recognize Chicken Soup for the Soul, all right. They just didn’t quite get the whole concept. Well, except for the few that I explained it to!

  2. Thank you for sharing, Cathy. I never would’ve thought about the weather being too warm for chocolate! And I would’ve been surprised, too, about people not being familiar with the Chicken Soup books.

    But you really did so well! Congratulations! 🙂

    • I was slap wore out, Linda! It’s a bit more difficult, I think, to sell books at a venue where people aren’t used to seeing the books. The Coordinator asked if I’d do it again next year, so we’ll see how many oddballs I attract. 🙂

  3. My, what cute pictures you have today! 🙂
    I’m so glad the book signing went well! Katie and I have been enjoying our Chicken Soup purchase – we keep stealing it from each other. And I’m totally unbiased when I say “The Proof Reader” is one of the best stories in there. Well done! I loved it!

  4. The best events are those where we learn something–okay, so you learned from your own mistakes but you still learned something. Actually I’m going to make a note about that chocolate kisses lesson. It seems so simple, but it’s the simple things that sometimes are difficult to figure out for us creative types. 🙂

    • Amen to that, Margo! Every time I learn a lesson, I’m reminded of something one of my kids (who’d made quite a few of his own mistakes) said: “Mom, I know I have to learn, but why does it always have to be the hard way???” 🙂

  5. You did great at your book signing! It’s hard to “sell” sometimes. I’m so glad I got “Messages from Heaven.” Loved your story. I resonated with me very personally. I will tell you sometime why…

  6. How did I miss this post? Same way I missed the festival, apparently. *sigh* Selling is work, no doubt about it. But as booksellers go, I bet you made it fun for everyone, even those who passed on a purchase. Thanks for all the info!

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