Monday, October 08, 2007

The Glorious Life of the Writer

A report from the front lines of the writing life.

So, I was recently part of a booksigning at one the nation's most famous malls, a signing arranged by a major bookstore and including many authors and stacks and stacks of books. Well, stacks of everyone's books but mine that is. As sometimes happens there was a miscommunication in the chain of email. So, for about half of the signing time I was sitting in a corner with no books and no name card.

I did a fair amount of signing anyway because I had folks who'd bought books elsewhere show up and I had a pen. The store did eventually get the copies of WebMage and Cybermancy they had on the shelves and bring them over--we were a long way from the store so this is not as easy as it sounds--and I sold and signed 2/3 of those in the half hour remaining. I ultimately ended up signing 12 books-which is actually pretty good for a signing. It would have been nice to do a bunch of stock signing as most of the other authors did, but stuff happens.

The bookstore was really nice and really apologetic about the whole thing--great folks. It was clearly an honest mistake and I will happily return for next year's version of the event. I was actually more amused by events than anything since at least one signing per book is pretty much guaranteed to be a disaster--last year it was golf ball sized hail and a tornado warning. Oh, and we got a Scooba at a 33 percent discount so the shopping part of the trip to the mall was a glorious success and we now have robo-mopped floors in several rooms.

P.S. I'm genuinely grateful to have exchanged the old pre-publication set of writerly problems for this one, but it still wears me down sometimes.

Thoughts on writerly glamour? Snafus? Trading up to a better set of problems? Mopping robots?


tate hallaway said...

I posted my reaction to the event on my site:

Because part of my reaction to all of this tends to be to wonder if book signings are really worth it for the authors and/or the bookstores.

Anonymous said...

Well, you never know - since it sounds like you handled it with grace, it may have made this particular group of people who have the opportunity to handsell your book remember your name and book cover/title a lot better than if all went swimmingly in that sea of authors. (Handselling being a big deal, over space and time.)

BTW, Kelly, your books have really nice packaging - I've found them surprisingly easy to hand over to people and say "read this," even if they're not big SF or fantasy fans. Like, the women in my office are mostly into mysteries and Top 10 Lit stuff and our fiction reading tastes don't overlap much, but they grabbed it up.


Baughn said...

Nothing remotely like a signing ever happens up here in northern Norway, of course. I don't think they affect things much at all, except when someone decides to write about the signing.

Which is how I found your books - a blogger (by name of Jon, I believe) pointed them out, and they were good. I enjoyed webmage. I enjoyed cybermancy more - it's time someone got P. out of that mess.

For the sort of writing you do.. blogs, news sites, and other word-of-mouth-enhancing measures seem best. I'd also like to note that I've lost count of the number of Baen books I've bought after reading the first third for free.

Kelly McCullough said...

Hi Baughn,

I'm glad you enjoyed the WebMage books. It's always cool to hear that. I think you're probably right about book signings (as is Tate in her take on them) and that they're not a huge driver of book sales. I don't really know what drives sales beyond trying to write the best book I possibly can, so that's where I focus most of my efforts. I'd love to see more publishers doing what Baen is doing with electronic teasers and free books.

Kelly McCullough said...


Thanks. I attempted grace at least, though it's always hard to tell if you're really achieving it from the inside. It really wasn't anyone's fault and all that getting all diva about it would have done was raise my blood pressure and upset the bookstore folks. On the packaging, yes, I really lucked out there. It looks nothing like I'd have expected and doesn't incorporate any of the suggestions that they asked me for, and that's all good.