How to Make the Best of a Bad Book Signing

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The image above was my vantage point for much of Saturday afternoon, as Hollis Seamon and I sat in comfortable wicker chairs at the front of the Open Door Bookstore, chatting and listening to Christmas music on the store’s radio.

It was a disgusting Northeast kind of day, with sleet in the morning and then a cold steel rain until that night. Perfect for a miserable book signing.

Fortunately, I brought my eldest daughter, Grace, with me to this event. Here we are pre-signing grabbing some pizza.

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She adored Open Door, because she’s a reader and their Children’s and Middle Grade sections are phenomenal. Also, because they have this fantastic play area, which she had all to herself.

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But as far as the signing, it was as I thought it would be when I woke up and saw the horrible weather: sparsely attended. In spite of excellent promotion, I’ve had a couple of lightly attended signings so far with Press Play, and I’ve had plenty of others with my previous books. This isn’t something I’m supposed to say. I’m supposed to tell all of you about how amazing all of my events are, as if I possess some magnetic power that draws in readers far and wide. That’s just not the case.

I understand people have lives, are incredibly busy this time of year, and simply have better things to do. I understand, as much as it stings. This is the business.

Saturday, however, was not a total loss. Grace had an absolute blast. She walked away with a toy recorder and a Smencil (waffle cone).

Smencils

More importantly, she walked away seeing the fact that whether people bought books or not, I sat and chatted with them about writing, about books, about life. I’m not good at a hard sell, so I never press people, who I can tell are uninclined. I listen. We hang out. And really, there are a lot of worse ways to spend your time on a cold, December afternoon, than with your daughter, and in the company of good people.

So thank you, Open Door, and Hollis, and all who did come out. Possibly next year we will have better success. But even if we don’t, I know a good pizza place 🙂

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The Weekend of Awesome

This past weekend I met my number one fan, signed copies of Dare Me and Tap Out, spoke on a panel about the creative writing process, and received a congratulatory note from my former high school English teacher. Overall, it was awesome, but, of course there’s more to it than these cursory details.

Saturday was Troy Author Day, an event created to celebrate the local talent in our area. Over twenty authors were in attendance, including some heavy hitters like the Man Booker International Prize winner Lydia Davis. The atmosphere was ideal. We were situated in the upstairs of the Troy Public Library, surrounded by readers who came to buy books, meet us, and listen to discussions about the process and the industry.

However, for me, the highlight of the day was meeting Natalie.

She is my number one fan, and came with copies of all my novels. Natalie and her friend Melinda help run Pendragon, SienaCollege’s literary magazine, and I will be at Siena at some point in the near future to speak to the group because Natalie reached out to me on Twitter and Melinda following up via email. Take note readers: if you want to have contact with your favorite author, hop on social media. Chances are we’re more than willing to be there for you.

If you are interested in more about the event, here’s a local article that covers the day, and even quotes me a few times.

On Sunday I had a signing at Barnes and Noble in Saratoga Springs. What was unique about the signings this weekend, and in particular at B&N, was having customers interested in copies of both Dare Me and Tap Out. It’s not that Tap Out has died in any way, but my energy has been focused on Dare Me. So when people came up and asked about both books and then bought both, it was kind of astounding.

It was fantastic to meet local readers, who either came out specifically to meet me, or those who stumbled across my table and got very excited about my work.

That’s what I’m in this for, not the sales figures, nor the awards––even though I need the former to continue, and the latter are really nice. I’m there for the stories. To tell people about mine, to talk with them and learn theirs, to help connect readers with work that will resonate with them. And to be with other authors doing the same, to meet people so excited about my work that they vibrate, yeah, that’s the definition of awesome to me.

So if you missed me this weekend, have no fear, my launch party is Friday at McGrievey’s restaurant from 4-7. There will be free appetizers, excellent beverages, and even more excellent company. Come on out. You won’t be disappointed.

Tweets from the road: First Signing for DARE ME

On Saturday Market Block Books held my first signing for Dare MeIt was a gorgeous day with lots of foot traffic from the Troy Farmers Market. I met teachers and parents who snapped up copies of both Dare Me and Tap Out for their students and children–and even one man who admitted Dare Me was going to his daughter, once he’d had a chance to enjoy. There was even a guest appearance by the world famous author, Dennis Mahoney, who was in for a copy and to talk to the incomparable Stanley from Market Block about Troy Author Day. Below are tweets from Saturday, including a screen shot from a baffling Amazon image. Even better is my super awkward pitch to Stanley about Dare Me. I try to stay poised, but it’s been a while since I’ve been out promoting.

If you didn’t have a chance to come out, check my schedule at the bottom. Thanks.

How could I not suggest this?

You have to love the ornate feel of everything in Troy.

Like I said, Dennis was there. Here’s proof:

And Amazon. They don’t want to release the pre-orders yet. However, during this window of time, Dare Me was on sale, and only one copy was left. No clue.

Good times trying to figure out what to say:

Market Block Books: Eric Devine signs his new book

Hey, just a quick reminder that I will be at Market Block Books on Saturday from 11-1. They currently have the only copies of Dare Me in the area, so if you want to know the story before everyone else, come on out. Thanks.

MBB: Eric Devine signs his new book “Dare Me” | The Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza.

MBB: Eric Devine signs his new book “Dare Me”

Start: 09/21/2013 11:00 am
End: 09/21/2013 1:00 pm

Market Block Books welcomes author Eric Devine for a book signing of his new book Dare Me, a story about instant visibility, identity, and what it takes to stay true to one’s self in the face of relentless pressure. When Ben Candido and his friends decide to post a YouTube video of themselves surfing on top of a car, they finally feel like the “somebodies” they are meant to be instead of the social nobodies they are. Overnight, the video becomes the talk of the school, and the boys are sure that their self-appointed senior year of dares will live in infamy. Every dare brings an increased risk of bodily harm, but Ben cannot deny the thrill and sense of swagger that come with it. The stakes become even more complex when a mysterious donor bankrolls their dares in exchange for a cut in the online revenue the videos generate. But at what point do the risk and the reward come at too high of a price?

 

Eric Devine is a writer, high school English teacher, and educational consultant. He is the author of Tap Out, a YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Readers, and This Side of Normal. He lives in Waterfordwith his family.

Dare Me (Paperback)

$9.95

ISBN-13: 9780762450152
Availability: Coming Soon – Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Running Press Kids, 10/2013


Tap Out (Paperback)

$9.95

ISBN-13: 9780762445691
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Running Press Kids, 9/2012


Location:
290 River Street
Troy

, New York12180

Last Signing of 2012

B&N Colonie

One week from today I will be at Barnes and Noble in Saratoga Springs, NY, my last signing of 2012. The signing serves a dual purpose as my school is holding a Bookfair that day. Therefore, if you would like a signed copy of Tap Out as a Chanukkah, Christmas or Holiday gift, this is your last chance.

And if you already have a copy, no worries, come on out, say hey, and pick up another item form B&N, as proceeds form the day’s sales help the freshman class.

I hope to see you. And be careful shopping out there.

Notes from the Road

In the eight weeks since Tap Out was released, I have held six events, from bookstores and libraries to an MMA gym and a local bar. Throughout these events I’ve taken notes on what worked, what didn’t. For those of you interested, here’s what I’ve learned:

Libraries:

I went to one local library on September 25th. For those of you who are unaware, as I was, Yom Kippur began at sundown. Thus, traffic at the library was not high. Fortunately, I was able to talk leisurely with the patrons who did show, as well as the booksellers who were with me. Next year I will be much more mindful of the calendar.

Bookstores:

I held three events at bookstores. One with an independent and two with a big-chain store at two of their locations. The indie store was as charming as ever, and I spent a fair amount of time chatting with those who turned out, but traffic was, again, low. I cannot attribute this to the calendar, and can only wonder about my promotion. I relied on Facebook, twitter, flyers and postcards. People knew, but not enough, so possibly a different medium would have been a better fit.

The chain stores were a night and day experience. One was holding a book fair, and the sight of so many people flowing through the aisles would make any author or publisher smile. I received a lot of attention, both from people who knew I was going to be there, and from those who had no idea who I was. I stayed for an additional hour because the traffic was so brisk and signed the remaining copies of Tap Out. Definitely a success.

I went to the other chain store location on a Sunday, and that right there, might have been my flaw. It was quiet. Very quiet. However, I did have sales and I did meet people, who are now hopefully new fans. I even challenged a teen to read the first page of Tap Out and if he liked it, well, we could talk. If he didn’t he could throw it at my face. Fortunately, he was glued to the page, as every teen boy I’ve set this challenge to has been. It’s a wonderful sight, and for that a worthwhile event. And they let me sign all their stock, too.

MMA Gym:

If you put the author in a cage, the fans will come. Seriously. This was a fun event because of the location and its atmosphere. Fighters were sparring off to the side while I was signing. I had hardcore music playing. Everyone who wanted a copy signed had to take off his or her shoes to enter the cage with me. Just beyond cool. I would strongly suggest to any writer to find a location that in some way is an integral piece of your novel and go there. Good times all around.

Local Bar:

There’s just something perfect about an Irish bar on a cold and rain-filled Friday afternoon that screams, “Books!” No there isn’t. What a local bar offers on a Friday at 4 pm is a place to go, forget about the week, eat, drink and be merry. And oh, yeah, check out that guy’s book. Far and away McGrievey’s was the best experience. There were many factors at play that I believe suggest why my bookseller left with only two copies: food, drinks, friends and community support. The owner was kind enough to donate appetizers from 5-7 pm; I arrived at 4:00, because that’s when happy hour begins; and people came out to be part of something fun, unique and cool. I will hold a signing for every book I sell at McGrievey’s because all the necessary elements for a good time were under one roof. And book signings, in my opinion, should be more party than anything else.

Final Thoughts:

While some events were more successful in terms of sales, it is impossible to know the effect one sale may have. Word of mouth is enormous, so I do not discredit the value of any of the more quiet venues.

Promotion via Facebook and twitter is sensible and free and worked well for me. I distributed hundreds of flyers and promotional postcards. I don’t know what return I received from them, at least not in person, so I can’t judge in either direction.

At signings, stand as much as possible. Some locations aren’t amenable to such, but if possible, be upright, even at a pub table. There’s just something natural about meeting a person face-to-face, as opposed to making them do the work of stooping and questioning.

As feasible, find a novel setting to hold a signing. Give people something else to do besides buying a book and chatting. Yes, they may love you and your work, but if you can provide more than just your presence and words, go for it.

I thank everyone who hosted me. Without your willingness I would not have had nearly as much success as I’m enjoying. Next fall, when my next novel is out, we’ll do this again. Sure I’ll tweak some things, but I’ll retain the core purpose: connecting readers to the author. I cannot stress how important that is. The people I met and had a moment to speak with will remember me. And hopefully because of my work, I will stay with them, and they will want to meet me, again.

Top Ten reasons to come out to Barnes and Noble this weekend:

10. The Twin Bridges are finally open.

9. You can get an early start on Christmas shopping.

8. I’ll be there.

7. Free Wi-Fi.

6. Not only books, but toys and games.

5. I’ll be there.

4. Starbuck’s coffee.

3. On Saturday, a percentage of proceeds go to Guilderland High School.

2. Seriously, I’ll be there.

1. You can get your copy of Tap Out signed.

I’ll be at the Colonie store on Saturday 11/3, from 2-4.

I’ll be at the Niskayuna on Sunday, 11/4, from 2-4.

If you haven’t had the chance to make it to my other events, no worries, come on out and say hey. These are the last two events I have scheduled before the holidays, so if you want a signed copy for a certain someone, this is it.

Hope to see you.