Sunday, April 10, 2011

A local event for local people

Did a signing for Graven Image yesterday at Waterstones in Worcester, my local bookshop. Having done a couple of these before, I can say that hand selling does not come naturally to me. Unless you are already v.popular and have means of publicising the event beforehand, you're basically a cold caller. You have to approach people (or snag them with eye contact as they go past) and convince them that your book is something they want, even though they came in for something completely different, like the latest cook book. I can't really do that. I don't respond to people when they try that on me, so why should I expect others to?

Because they want the book but don't rsealise it, perhaps?

Well, do they? However compelling Graven Image may or may not be, it is a short, hardboiled book about a brothel bouncer. There is some fruity language in there, and while I think the cover is just great, some would find it forbidding. I'm sure there are people out there who would love all that stuff, but am I going to find enough amongst the general population of Worcester (not the most culturally happening town) to warrant me trying to cold sell to them?



That doesn't mean there won't be a whole bunch of local people who would want to read my book, just that not many of them are going to frequent a high street bookshop on a Saturday lunch time, which is when my slot was. They also might be turned off by some big lunk of a stranger invading their space, trying to flog a book they never heard of.

OK, so you're having a good old whinge here, Charlie. Here's a thought: no one is putting a gun to your head. If you don't like the signings, don't do 'em. Make like Zammo and just say no

Not that I do many, but I wouldn't want to stop them entirely. When a bookshop offers me their support, I'm going to grab it. But I think things could be done in a different way that is geared towards finding those readers who might be into noir/hardboiled/whacked-out-cross-genre/whatever. Obviously we already have this nationally with genre festivals and conventions, but I'd like to get something going on a smaller scale, and that still involves the bookshop. There are a few of these kind of things going on here and there in other places, and I'm going to be taking part in a very cool one myself soon (TBA), so hopefully I'll be able to get more of an idea of what I'm driving at, rather than waffling aimlesly on a Sunday afternoon, with the sun shining outside, two dogs pining for a walk and a couple of kids who want to chuck a ball around.

That said, I sold ten yesterday. To those ten, my thanks and applause. Whether you like the book or not, at least you gave it a shot, rather than brushing me off like a High Street charity hustler (which is what I would have done).

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