I just don’t want to be that lady…

I’m worried about signings. I one time watched a lady at her book signing, who must not have advertized, sit there alone right next to the cash register with no one buying her book. This image is a little haunting to me. She was a children’s author (with a book for ages 9-12) and her book cover was… well, to put it bluntly, bad. This was at our local indie book store. My husband, children, and I hang out there almost every Friday for about an hour or two looking for a new book for each of the kids and Richard (my husband) looks for himself and his school library, sometimes we bring our daughter’s friends and buy them a book as well. I love watching and helping children want to read! Anyway, this was one of the times I had about 3 other kids with me so we were there a little longer and each kid looked over at the author and her books as we walked in. But not one of them wanted it. They were not rude, thank goodness, but they were not interested. I could see anxiousness in the poor authors eyes, she was screaming, “Please, lady with 5 kids, please, please just buy one book.” My husband wasn’t even interested. I should have bought one, but I’m not one to ever force a book on my kids as long as they’re reading something.
When we finally left Richard said, out of earshot, “With a cover like that, not one of the kids in my school would even look at it.”
The poor lady, she had a massive stack of books. I read the back, I don’t remember what it said, but it reminded me a lot of Frindle by Andrew Clements. My oldest didn’t even like that one and it was popular. I felt a little guilty about judging a book by its cover some, but I did read the title and the back. I mainly felt bad for her. The whole time we were there I was the only one who looked at her book. The author perked up when she saw us enter, and we let her down. She didn’t speak up, she just sat still, and it took me talking to her before she talked to me. I think if she would have sparked a conversation with the kids she would have at least made a sale with my oldest daughter’s best friend. Her best friend grabs book and looks at the back first! She’s awesome that way (with this whole cover thing I forgot that there are people like her). But the author said nothing, she did nothing, it was sad. This is where my fear of signings stems from, the image of this lady. I know I can sale a book, heck I have sold more copies of Monster by Walter Dean Myers than I could even count while I was working at Barnes & Noble. And it is a book I never read (I did read some reviews), but I told moms that couldn’t get their high school sons to read about it. I was truthful, I told them I’ve read the reviews, that I hadn’t read the book, but that almost all teen boys enjoy it. If I can sale a book I don’t know, I’m not too worried about one I know everything about. I just do not want to be that lady… alone with my books… no one there… and somehow wind whistles in the background while a tumble weed passes by. I know I’m just overly nervous. I know when the times comes, I will not just sit there too scared to speak, I will advertize as best I can. I saw her flaws and I will not repeat them. I’m not even at that step in my book, but my fear keeps going back to that poor lady. I guess I’m used to the sales floor and cash-wrap or the library stacks and check-out; I’ve never been the lady behind that desk.

This was something I wrote in an e-mail (I changed some of it) and then thought about it more and more and realized I should post it in a blog…

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3 Responses to I just don’t want to be that lady…

  1. Sarah – with your retail background and your online savvy, I think you won’t be that woman at the table! (I hope that when I get to that stage I won’t be her either.) The bad cover saddens me, though. That author put so much time into her writing and then someone else didn’t take care to make the book all it could be. As a middle school teacher, I see daily that covers can make or break a book – only personal recommendations can outweigh the stigma of a poorly designed cover. A bad cover is MY personal worrying-about-what-MIGHT-happen-if-I’m-ever-published nightmare! haha

    • sarahwinters says:

      Marjorie – Thank you. Bad covers and public speaking / book signings are all a loss of sleep for me. I’m not in this stage yet, but it’s bizarre because I’ve seen a number of book signings that have gone well, but this one is the only one that sticks out. I can even still picture her and her cover, the poor lady. I agree it’s sad that someone didn’t take the time and care for her book to place a nice picture on it. And if she was an indie author (which I truly don’t know if she was or not) someone should have at least politely warned her that the cover was not one that grabs the reader.
      Good luck,
      Sarah

  2. No one wants to be that lady but then if you are what do you do? Is it possible to be that lady? Obviously, she needed to leave her comfort zone to do what was necessary-reach out to possible readers. Introverts must become Extroverts–scary, body shaking, tongue twisting, and all those other nerve racking adjectives. It’s hard but nothing is impossible. One way not to be her, is to take charge and go out to your readers. Just think of them as friends, who you want to introuce a great book to. I’ve learned, no one really bites. If you want an aide, have something there to catch their eye or something that will draw attention so people will come and talk with you about it–thus the 7ft long water dragon I made for a festival. You want your book to be a success so let nothing, not even your own psyche prevent that!

    Trust me, I get nervous still but after a while, the love of talking about books takes over. I know you love books so try to think of it as talking to a group of friends (that you don’t know their name…yet). So, force yourself forward and you’ll be surprised at just what your instinct/nature can do. : ) I bet you’ll do great!

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