Monday, January 19, 2015

Be Polite, Stupid!

I have been a published author for four years. In those four years, I have had a lot of book signings. I’ve had signings at cafes and bagel shops and pizza places. I’ve had signings at craft fairs and antique machinery shows. I once signed books during Bingo at my old church, and even braved 40-degree weather sitting outside signing books at a donut shop, but then I caught a cold.
On April 27, 2014 I had my second-ever signing at a bookstore. The store employees set a table up by the front doors, and I covered it in a tablecloth, bookmarks, business cards, and neatly arranged my books among them.
Then I sat down and waited to ensnare innocent customers and tell them about my books.
Partway through, one of the employees walked by and I said, “I’ve sold two so far! That’s two more books than at my worst book signing!” Then he said, “That’s two more books than most of the authors here have sold at their book signings.”
At the conclusion of the signing, I pried into this matter further. According to the employees, whom I found friendly and helpful, most of the authors who have had signings at their store sat in the back, didn’t talk to any of the customers, and became angry when they didn’t sell any books.
My mind was blown.
Sure, I’ve had my fair share of disappointments. But you know what? IT ISN’T ANYONE’S FAULT. I am one author out of a million. So are you. And you and you and you. You are not a princess so it would only be logical not to act like one.
As an author, you’re probably trying to build a name for yourself. Part of this involves forming lasting relationships with other people, whether they be readers, other writers, bloggers, or–you guessed it–employees at a bookstore. If you throw a fit when things don’t go your way, you’re only hurting your reputation. Nobody wants to read something that was written by a brat.
Muser Rob says, “To connect to people in such personal ways and then behave like a tool towards the very people who facilitated the connection to whom the connection was made, just seems…counter-writer. But then again, entitlement is more contagious than the flu.”
You can say that again, Rob. It seems that some authors want to be treated like the next Stephen King when they’ve done absolutely nothing to deserve the treatment. You have to WORK to build an audience. You can’t expect a bookstore to do it for you. And treat other people the way you would like to be treated. Show some respect. If you don’t sell any books at your book signing, thank the store anyway for letting you be there and for having given you the opportunity to sell them. 
And when you refuse to talk to any of the customers at the place where you’re signing books, it’s your own fault when nobody takes an interest in your novel. You know what I do? I greet people as they walk by. Then I ask them what they like to read. Then I tell them what my novels are about.
It’s that easy.
Granted, many people still won’t be interested in your books. And that’s okay. Not everyone reads thrillers. Not everyone reads paranormal romance. Not everyone reads mysteries. Find the people who do. And be nice to them. Because when you’re rude, you give authors a bad name and pretty much kill your chances of ever being successful.
So, authors, I implore you to be polite with everyone you encounter, whether it’s online, on the phone, or in person. BE POLITE. Because if you don’t, I will find you. And then I will kick your butt.


  1. I did a post about this! And inevitably I hear the same thing at most book stores that I visit: the authors mostly just pout. Blows my mind! The burden of conversation and interaction is definitely on the author, like it or not.

    Loved this. You are the book signing queen, so this should go down as scripture.

  2. I'd also like to suggest STANDING behind the table. Only sit when signing a book. Standing invites people to glance your way. Then say "Hi". It's a good time to offer a free bookmark and the conversation should flow from there. People are generally afraid to approach "famous people" and if you are an author they assume that you are famous. Be yourself. Be friendly.

    1. Good tips! I do admit that I sit for the most part, but when someone comes up to talk, I stand, and I remain standing when I sign their books. Sometimes I remain standing because it hurts when I sit too long!