signings and stuff

Just got home from a really nice signing at Afterwords Books in Edwardsville. It was such a pleasant time, I think it's rehabilitated me on bookstore signings.

Big-box booksignings are a real crapshoot. Much of the time, I'd find out they hadn't told anyone I was coming, there was no sign or display to drum up interest, and they sat me at a card table by the entrance so people would most easily avoid me.

Seriously, an author at a table in a bookstore is no better than the perfume salesgirl in Macy's at Christmas. They avert their eyes so quickly you'd think they'd get whiplash, unless they need directions to the bathrooms. You can try to engage them in conversation, you can bribe them (I used a bowl of chocolates) but it's still a crapshoot. A lot of the time you just end up sitting there like an idiot for two hours, trying to make eye contact and feeling like an asshole.

There are exceptions, of course. The last signing on the NOCTURNE tour was at a Borders right before Halloween. They had a nice display and sat me near the information desk, well away from the doors, so people happened upon me as they were shopping, not when they were just entering the store and focused on whatever they'd come to get. Every twenty minutes or so, they'd re-announce that I was there and signing, using the spooooky aspect of the book to draw people to me.

We sold every copy they'd bought and the display copy in the front window.

Mostly, though, bookstores offer a little extra terror: you don't want them to get stuck with loads of books they can't sell, because you know how hard it is for bookstores to stay alive and if you sell poorly for them they'll never have you back. It's extra pressure. Plus there's that whole shyness thing, and never knowing if people will be there. It was so stressful when the last book came out that I was almost relieved to shift focus more to other venues.

But tonight was great. They set it up like a reading, with me at a table next to a rack of my stuff and plenty of people - some familiar faces and some new folks. I blathered for a couple of minutes, background on my major books.

Then I read "Sisyphus," because that's always a happy crowd-pleaser. Snerk.

I answered questions for a bit after that, then started to read from THE COLD ONES. That made me nervous, because convention audiences are used to foul language and graphic violence. Out in the Real World, people tend to frown on such things. Fortunately, no one ran screaming from the store with their hands clapped over their ears.

I stopped THE COLD ONES right as they got to the Island. Heh heh heh. I'd rather stop that one a little later, but I was leery of going too long, and I sensed the crowd growing restless - they'd listened to me for 75 minutes by this point.

Good sales, a great crowd, a nice night. This follows a very pleasant evening spent with the Ocular Voices book club at Barnes & Noble last night, where they kept up questions for two hours at least, and good sales there too. If the last arts fair I did went like these two outings, I'd have been a lot happier.

I told Big Chris if I keep having such good luck, I'll get delusions of adequacy. Then I remembered I'm going to Kansas City next weekend, and I still haven't solved my child-care problem, and I think I'm going to be short of SETTING SUNS.

Well, that takes care of the adequacy. :)


  1. I got you covered for Saturday and Sunday on Child-care. CALL ME!

  2. "Every day we slaughter our finest impulses. That is why we get a heart-ache when we read those lines written by the hand of a master and recognize them as our own, as the tender shoots which we stifled because we lacked the faith to believe in our own powers, our own criterion of truth and beauty. Every man, when he gets quiet, when he becomes desperately honest with himself, is capable of uttering profound truths. We all derive from the same source. There is no mystery about the origin of things. We are all part of creation, all kings, all poets, all musicians; we have only to open up, to discover what is already there." ~Henry Miller

  3. That was the first signing (by anyone) that I have ever gone to, but I thought it was fantastic. I had already read "Sisyphus," but hearing it read aloud gave it another dimension.

    My poor mother walked out of there and said, "I don't think I'll be able to read any of Elizabeth's books. I'll have to just be friends with her." You scared her with just the reading.

  4. Spud: Apologies to Mom. :) Though it's good to know I haven't lost my touch!


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