Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Book Signing that Almost Wasn't

Some venues sound great on the surface but turn out to be something decidedly different. I spent the past two days at a book signing/selling event at Cool Springs mall in Franklin, TN, just south of Nashville. It's in one of the wealthiest counties in the U.S. People with money to buy anything they please. I had looked forward to it with glee.

Our U-shaped table had fifteen authors, at various times. Only three of us held the fort continuously. There were a few other authors, plus artists and crafts people. The organizers booked it as an event to promote literacy. They had a small area with chairs set up for an audience where, at different times, local TV and other personalities sat and read children's books. Not many kids showed up.

We were in a triangular nook just off the main first floor concourse, near an entrance (actually more an exit) to one of the primary department stores. Our table sat behind a free-standing elevator and stairway to the upper level of the mall. Unfortunately, the vast majority of shoppers passed along the corridor on the other side of the elevator and never saw us. There were no signs indicating our nice literary event was taking place around the corner.

One of our authors had a book about the Titanic which has done very well around the 100th anniversary of the sinking. He took some of his flyers and stood near the elevator, attempting to pass them out to shoppers. Few appeared interested, though he did sell a few books to people who wandered into our area.

Most of us enjoyed chatting about books and politics and such and watching shoppers pass without looking our way. I talked to a few who paused long enough to take one of my folders. One or two indicated they would check out my ebooks, and I finally found one couple that perused several covers, finally purchasing a copy of The Surest Poison, first book in my Sid Chance series.

Some of the other authors didn't sell a book. A couple sold to friends. The event continues this afternoon,  but I decided to pass up the opportunity. I felt modestly pleased at my single success. But I came away with the realization that you can't sell books in a mall unless you have mainstream exposure, where people know what you're there for and will take the time to pause and look. It was an interesting experience. More of a learning experience.

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