I recently had another book signing event, which for unknown authors, can be both an enjoyable and a humbling experience. The enjoyable part is getting to talk with several interesting people, which gets me out of my introvert zone from which I need to emerge from time to time. I met a lot of nice people during the event, some of whom were even gracious enough to buy a book or two.
The humbling part is the rejection. Unknown authors and artists must learn to develop thick skins. I understand that not everyone who walks by my table is necessarily there because of me. It’s not like I’m like fictional author, Richard Castle, who always has lines of people out the door. My table was next to a Starbucks, and I only wished the lines at my table were as long as the ones at Starbucks. People spend a tremendous amount of money on expensive drinks that they can only enjoy for a short time when they could buy a fabulous book from me that would give them several hours of entertainment. Just sayin’.
Nevertheless, book signings always give me ideas for blogs, and this time was no different as I observed the various reactions of people walking by. Some people, as they approached my table, became suddenly fascinated by something off to the other side, such as Starbucks, so they didn’t have to make eye contact with me. Others buried their faces in their phones, which is not all that uncommon today no matter where they are or what they’re otherwise doing. And I have to admit I’ve probably done the same thing to vendors who I thought were going to pressure me to buy something. High-pressure salespeople can always intimidate me into buying something I don’t want just so I can get away from them. But I’m not that type of vendor. I’m more along the lines of, “You don’t want to buy a book, do you?” I’m always somewhat surprised when someone actually says “yes.” I need to work on that.
Difficult as it was, I managed to refrain from self-defeating sales pitches. As people walked by, I tried to engage them with a friendly greeting.
“Good morning,” I called out. “Do you like to read?”
This question elicited interesting responses. I could understand the ones who responded, “No,” or “Not really.” Well, then again, I don’t understand anyone who doesn’t like to read. What’s wrong with them, anyway? I always have to have something to read, even if it’s only the cereal box at the breakfast table. One person said, “No, reading is too much work.” What? Reading is my form of relaxation. But, to each his own, I guess. I can deal with that.
Others responded with, “Yes, but I’ve already got too many books I need to read.” Or, “Yes, but I don’t have time to read right now.” Okay, I can understand that, too. The people who were more difficult to understand were the ones who said, “Yes, I love to read,” and then sped up past my table before I could point out that I had a plethora of excellent reading material or the ones who laughed as though I had said something funny. Well, I’m not totally stupid. They meant they liked to read but didn’t want to waste time with an unknown author. Or maybe they were in a hurry. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.
One woman took a look at the title of my book on the end of the table, Other People’s Children, and said, “Other People’s Children? No, thank you!” She rushed off before I could explain I wasn’t trying to peddle children.
I got held hostage by another man trying to convince me to upgrade my cell phone and change my cell phone plan. It turns out he worked in another kiosk. He didn’t buy a book, so I didn’t change my cell phone service.
Another man stopped briefly and told me, “I’ve never heard of you.” I know. Kind of hard to believe, right? Will he ever be embarrassed when I hit the best-seller list. Even worse, he’ll be sorry he didn’t buy a first-edition signed book that will be worth lots of money when I’m dead.