Friday, April 25, 2008

Adventures in Book Signing

Update: right now, the odds of winning a $25 gift certificate on Amazon are pretty good - I think they're running at about 75%!! Doesn't anyone else out there wanna win? (I do realize that most people do their book shopping over the weekend...) Remember, just enter a comment below at any point before Monday as to where you spied The Department on sale, and voila, you're entered!

Anyway, so I spent the week canvassing NYC and signing stock in just about every bookstore in the city. (I think I missed two of them - apologies to folks who live in Tribeca and/or near the Borders on 32nd and 2nd. Both stores are in way too random places for me to get there.) And for the most part, it was a lovely experience. Booksellers are nearly always happy to have an author pop in, though I suspect in NYC, they're fairly used to it. They're gracious and warm and excited for your book, and try to thoughtfully place the sticker where it won't obscure the title and all of that.

But at one particular store, I had a less than wonderful experience, at least initially. I looked and looked for the book on the front shelves - called co-op space - for which my publisher, Avon, has paid handsomely and for which I am greatly appreciative. But it wasn't there. I approached a bookseller who already seemed annoyed that I asked her for information, despite the fact that she was at the "information" desk. She looked on the computer and told me that yes, they had a lot in stock, but after vaguely looking around for them in the same place that I had, she sort of shrugged her shoulders and was like, "I don't know what to tell you." When I very, very nicely suggested that I *thought* they were supposed to be displayed on the front tables, per my publisher paying for it, she sneered at me (seriously) and said, "That doesn't necessarily happen at our store."


I started to very graciously protest (and was turning beet red in the process), but fortunately, a manager came over and asked if he could help. When aforementioned bookseller explained the situation, the manager directed her to "Cindy."* Aforementioned bookseller then walked up to a woman and asked her who "Cindy" was, and it turned out that this very woman - the one aforementioned bookseller approached - was "Cindy."

*Names changed to protect the innocent.

I sort-of did an internal chuckle and figured this bookseller was new and just trying to disguise her inexperience by being a know-it-all, though, it turns out, she knew, in fact, very little.

Anyway, I proceeded to the top floor, where I found 15 copies, and where another lovely, lovely bookseller rushed over to me, just as I was grabbing them to sign, to tell me that he had been directed to move them downstairs to the front table as soon as I signed them.

So - moral of the story? Speak up! Ask! Even if it's embarrassing, and you wonder if you're in the wrong! I'm sure that this isn't the only store which had inadvertently tucked the book away in the back, but I'm glad that at the very least, I remedied this one situation.

And, I should say, these lessons are certainly not just limited to my book signing experiences! You all know that here at Ask Allison, I encourage asking questions - even if you think they're silly - so if you have one about the way things work in our crazy industry, don't be shy! Post them in the comments section or email me directly. I'm always happy to try my best to help.

And in the meantime - enter into my contest!! Don't forget to spy the book this weekend at your local bookstore - or request it from your seller if they don't have it - and then come back here and post about it! (Or even better, send me a pic, and I'll post it on the blog!)

Happy weekend!


Anonymous said...

I'd play Spot the Book and enter, but I live where you live, and it seems like you've seen all the copies of Department in Manhattan by now!

Allison Winn Scotch said...

Ha! Anna, it doesn't matter! It's just the point that you saw it somewhere. :)

Jen A. Miller said...

I agree -- ask! I was up in Central Jersey and stopped at a Borders. Lo and behold they had my book. I felt funny suggesting I sign it -- after all, that area of the Jersey coast is not covered in my book -- but they were THRILLED to have me there and suggested doing an event.

So ask away. And as someone who's book does NOT get co-op money, signing copies is one way to make space made on a display table. Some local stores are putting signed copies out on their Mother's Day suggestion table because they say that signed books make a great gift. So ask ask ask!

Cathy Bueti said...

Wish I would have known this when my book came out! Wow, Allison I am learning lots here! Here is a funny (NOT) story about rude peeps at the local BN. I scheduled a book signing at my local Barnes and NOble (which only had one copy of my book on the shelf....and not because they had sold alot!) So they had to order copies for the signing. I was beyond nervous to say the least! When I got there for the signing and asked where they had set up stuff for me...I was told by the staff that they didn't get the shipment of my books! And then asked "Oh, so and so didn't call you and let u know?" UMMMM NOOOO or I wouldnt be here!!
Anyway to make this long story short.....only one person showed up for my signing besides a few people in my family and I was beyond embarrassed!! To top it all off the staff left me in the back of the story alone and I had to explain why there were no books! Pretty humiliating. Man you need a thick skin to be an author!! Especially a newbie like me!

Anonymous said...

I'm one of those people who does all my book shopping online, so I haven't seen it out in the stores, but I'm seeing your online friends promoting you all over the blogosphere, which is kind of neat. Two that I remember specifically were Jess Riley and Eileen Cook. That was fun to see.

And I'm sorry about the experience that started out so poorly. I imagine the new girl isn't likely to last very long unless she gets her attitude turned around and soon. I used to work in an independent bookstore, and we loved when authors came in. They were like rock stars. So you probably made a number of people's days just by stopping by and signing a few books. Plus, it made us more likely to try to sell those particular copies, especially if the author was nice. And the readers loved hearing about how the author had stopped in just the other day and was so friendly and blah-de-blah.

krisl said...

I live in a small suburb outside of Boston and I saw the book at Borders on the new fiction rack the other day. Then, this morning I saw it on the table at B&N. I also saw it on Jen Lancaster's blog - does that count? lol :)
Loved the book btw....

Nadine said...

Loved the book! Very disappointed to discover the paperback edition was on a bottom shelf at Barnes & Noble in Madison, Wisconsin. If I hadn't specifically been looking for it, I doubt that I would have seen or noticed it