I recently attended my very first book-signing event. It took place at Waterstones bookseller in Crewe, Cheshire in the North of England. I did not know what to expect so I was faintly nervous but approached it with an open mind. I would surely sell some books, even if no one came specifically to see me. I had been publicizing it widely in local newspapers and on the Internet so I was hopeful.
As it was, I sold 6 books. This may not sound like a lot, but for an unknown author with a new book, it was pretty damn good! I am very pleased with the result, and with the whole experience in general. It has filled me with renewed vigor and hope for my second book-signing event in two weeks. The people that I met were very supportive and the bookshop staff was really helpful and accommodating.
Although I didn’t really expect my friends and family to drop everything and come and see me on their precious weekend day off, I must admit it was a little disappointing to see no familiar faces. Well, my father-in-law did turn up and he took some professional photographs (he is a photographer by trade, very useful!) to use on my websites. I did have a wonderful surprise when a great-Uncle and Aunt came to see me. I was really touched that even though they haven’t see me since I was a child, they took the time to come and show some support, and more importantly, bought some books.
When I first arrived there was a customer waiting for me, a lovely woman who supports local authors and wanted to read my book especially because of its Cornish setting. It was very amusing that every time I stood up to stretch my legs, customers would approach me to ask for assistance in the shop. Even though I wasn’t in uniform and had no name badge, apparently I looked like a member of staff! I suppose once you work in retail and customer service, you never really lose that professional, helpful stance and persona.
It was a useful learning experience. I had recently read a lot of negative stories in the media, saying that bookshops are in decline and people are no longer interested. Even in this small retail center, there were enough customers coming and going to fill me with confidence that the industry is still strong, and is still worth pursuing as a viable career. There were a lot of parents with young children, and many teenagers buying books. Not everyone has defected to the digital revolution just yet.