By Chris Gay
I’m guessing that many-if not all-of you have spent long, strenuous hours at one time or another pondering exactly what goes into a book signing. Or at least I’ll take you at my word you do. At any rate, the first thing to know is that there’s a difference between someone like Stephen King setting up a book signing and, say, Chris Gay setting up a book signing. There’s also generally a difference in both attendance and compensation. But I digress. Let’s start at the beginning, shall we? We shall.
It’s often said that everyone has a great novel inside him or her just waiting to come out. Actually, that’s not altogether true. What most people have is a delusion that they are a great writer and have, instead, a third rate pile of senseless rubbish waiting to come out. The problem is that the general public can’t tell the difference until they buy the book, and there’s only so much disposable income to go around.
All people born after 1950 have generally been coddled from, approximately, their very moment of conception. Trophies just for participating, grading on curves, always being told “you’re special.” The obvious question left unanswered is that if everyone is ‘special,’ then who are all of these dull, talentless idiots you see around everywhere?
One unfortunate after-affect of this is that most people grow up thinking that they’re great when, in reality, they’re much more likely to be boring dolts, ignorant of history, science, politics and, especially, grammar. Wait-what did you just say to me? Whatever. I’m just the messenger.
Anyway, sooner or later some of these people will get to thinking they can write, and then do so. However adding words to paper doesn’t make you any more of a writer than successfully dyeing an Easter egg makes you Picasso. Then this claptrap is put out there where it ends up clogging up the literature pipeline like some kind of papery cholesterol. A lot of good writing gets lost within the sea of the inferior. That’s a lose-lose.
My advice, as once espoused by Clint Eastwood, is to know your limitations, and get the hell out of our way. Why not be a CEO of something instead? There’s good money there.
Okay, let’s say you’ve spent your two-to-thirty years writing and editing your novel and now it’s published, either traditionally or independently. Either way, congratulations; you’ve now been promoted to Head of Marketing for your own project. The hours suck and the pay is non-existent. However, your opportunity to run up significant debt is enormous. So there’s that.
All you need to do now is contact every place, everywhere, and ask them if they’d like to host you for a book signing at their venue. If, like 99.8% of writers,* they’ve never heard of you, that task is about as easy as slicing through a hot knife with cold butter.
With traditional book store chains, unless you know someone, or know someone who knows someone, or are sleeping with someone who knows someone, prepare to go through what has been known since the advent of this paragraph as the ‘Corporate run-around.’ Keep trying though, as there is a chance you can land a chain store signing without a name; same as there’s a chance to win yesterday’s Powerball with tomorrow’s ticket. (I didn’t say it was a good chance)
So, now what? You call everywhere. Hair salons, retail stores, financial institutions, health clubs, craft fairs, movie theaters, etc, etc. If you’re local, you stand a better chance. Also, mention that the promotion you’ll certainly do for it will bring the venue free advertising. A win-win.
Also, schedule radio and TV interviews. As an aside, if you happen to be great-looking, you’ll be much more likely to land these regardless of whatever drivel you typed onto Word, printed out, and glued between cardboard.
I’ve also heard that, if you happen to be an incredibly quick wit, that too may help you with getting interviews, as well as your ability to draw interest to your books through consistently humorous Facebook statuses.
Remember, you’ll need your own posters, placards, business cards, stands and cleverly designed bookmarks to leave out with your information on them. The latter, of course, is because everyone will take something made available for free regardless of its relevancy to their lives. Just ask anyone who passes out samples at a food membership club; those people who constantly hear things like,”I hate those pretzels. Oh, all right, I’ll try one.”
Be Prepared for Anything
Know that even if you have a great book for sale at a reasonable price, there’s always the chance you’ll make a huge effort for a signing, and then not sell a single tome. Don’t be discouraged. You’ve gotten the chance to get yourself and your name out there, and every little bit helps.
Also, console yourself with the fact that most people these days seem to be illiterate, anyway. Don’t believe me? Juste cheq the tipicahl sphelling on you’re soshul mediuh websights.
Keys Points to Remember
As a favor to you I’ll recap the three most important points of this piece so you’ll always have easy access. Here are the best ways to sell your books, get interviews, and/or become rich:
1) Be Incredibly Hot
2) Be Incredibly funny
3) Be Already Rich
Be aware that if you’re trying to become a writer simply because you have the ability, and believe that writing is all you’ll have to do, think again. By the time you’re ready to start on your second book, you’ll notice that the easiest part of the prior one was just writing the damned thing. Go ahead, laugh. We’ll see what time tells. But in the meantime, as the French say: good luck. Only they say it “bon chance.”
*This percentage is a total guess, but it sounds about right. Maybe even on the low side.
What if a late 20th Century Jack the Ripper tearing apart a small Connecticut town was the result of a pancake shop bet between God and the devil? Imagine if Satan’s impact on the world in the new millennium hinged entirely on one police officer’s skill in hunting down a ruthless killer…hiding in plain sight. Detective Danny Seabrook is an unwitting pawn in a divine chess match with immeasurable consequences for all mankind. Set primarily in 1995, this action-packed suspense thriller features clever dialogue, humor and romance-with an ending you will never forget.
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As the end draws near for long-retired Sherlock Holmes in Sussex Downs, he calls one last time for the company of his best friend and colleague, Dr. John Watson. What was meant to be four last days of camaraderie and reminiscing instead leads to the most shocking, explosive revelation both of the great detective’s career, and his life.
Sherlock Holmes and the Final Reveal is a Holmes tale like none other ever conceived. Fans of Baker Street’s legendary detective will be left with the insatiable need to contemplate its extraordinary conclusion forevermore.
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Chris Gay is an author, freelance writer, voice-over artist, broadcaster and actor. He writes and broadcasts a daily, minute radio humor spot in Hartford, Connecticut. He’s also written the paranormal, theological thriller novel Ghost of a Chance and three humor books: And That’s the Way It Was…Give or Take: A Daily Dose of My Radio Writings, Shouldn’t Ice Cold Beer Be Frozen? My 365 Random Thoughts to Improve Your Life Not One Iota, and The Bachelor Cookbook: Edible Meals with a Side of Sarcasm. He’s been published nationally in Writer’s Digest and is currently writing his fourth and fifth humor books, Another Round of Ice Cold Beer: My 365 More Random Thoughts to Improve Your Life Not One Iota and Something Witty this Way Comes; the latter being a collection of pieces written for his humor blog. Look soon for his book Sherlock Holmes and the Final Reveal, an original, extraordinary short story on the great detective. Also, he’s writing the Ghost of a Chance sequel Perdition’s Wrath, and has written and voiced radio commercials, authored both comedic and non-comedic freelance articles, scripts, press releases, website, media and technical content, done occasional radio color commentary for local sports, and acted in a couple of movies and plays. His website is chrisjgay.com, and his humor blog can be found at chrisgay.wordpress.com.
Hope Springs (Barfly)