Sunday, October 07, 2007

The Book Signing Blues

Promoting our book has been quite a wild ride. The most fun I've had spreading the word about Peeing in Peace has been when I'm connecting with fellow moms in cyberspace who get the title the moment they read it or when I receive a random email from a stranger who has read our book and can relate to what it's like to balance work and family and still keep their sense of humor intact.
What I haven't enjoyed on the long and winding promotional trail are book signings. You see, if I were JK Rowling, or even JJ from "Good Times," if I had a book signing planned, the line would be out the door (okay, maybe not for JJ but certainly for JK). But when you are a relatively unknown writer, no matter how hard you try to convince people to show up to buy your book, unless they're your relative, a good friend or your husband, they just don't come. And there you are, left sitting at a table with 12 empty chairs in front of you. Maybe I should sign up for jury duty - at least if I did a book signing at a courthouse, I'd know I'd be playing to a packed crowd.
A book signing on a picture perfect day paints quite a lonely picture to say the least, but that's reality in the cold harsh world of book signings in the suburbs.
The other day, when I got to interview Nicholas Sparks and he casually mentioned how he was going to be at a signing for 5-6 hours, I thought to myself about the signing we had scheduled that weekend in Ramsey, New Jersey that would probably last about five or six minutes. Would anyone show up? Would it be a disaster again like the week before when the only people who showed were the regular senior citizens who populated the coffee shop? Even worse, I never imagined that a book signing would open ourselves up to hecklers, like that eccentric older woman who expressed her total disdain for our book title and proceeded to follow us around the store so she could spew a few more nasty comments our way, when all we had hoped was that PIP would become the must-have read for new and expectant moms.
What I've come to realize is that moms don't have time for book signings. And even if they are in a bookstore with their kids, they'll even come up to you and tell you that they can relate to the title - maybe even share a story of their own about how their toddler clings to their leg while they're trying to tinkle, and then when you try to persuade them to buy the book, they'll smile and say, "Oh I'm too busy now, maybe I'll buy it some other time." Translation - Sayanora sister - I'd rather fork over some cold hard cash to buy "Eat, Pray, Love" or "Green Eggs & Ham."
While I thankfully don't have any signings scheduled for a while, what I've come to realize is that if you are an author, you better have the thickest skin on the planet. Between the hecklers, the "I'm too busy to buy your book" crowd and those damn empty seats, I only hope that one day there will be a line out the door - eagerly waiting for our autographs. But for now, there are no rainbows or pots of gold on our road to book signing success - right now, we're pretty much on a one way street that's riddled with lots of pot holes.


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