December 31, 2012
BOOK SIGNINGS - A REFLECTION OF OUR WORLD
Linda M. Penn
“No thanks,” “not today,” “sorry, I’m in a rush,” “maybe on my way out,” and the most popular rejection in my experiences with book signings for my children’s books is “I don’t have any kids.” I try not to judge if people are telling the truth to me. I do contemplate back several years ago how I acted when I encountered an author at a book signing. I was often in book stores and libraries with my own kids when they were younger. I do hope I was not rude to an author back then. Unfortunately, I do remember trying to avoid a “Book Signing Today” table by quickly grabbing onto the kids and jumping over an aisle so I could avoid the situation altogether. Yes, shame on me! I never considered how much effort a person put into authoring a book. Does any of this sound familiar to you?
It wasn’t until I retired and started writing my own children’s books that I began to pay attention to authors and book signings. Now I understood the effort involved in getting ideas on paper and then publishing the work. An author’s heart and soul fill that piece of work.
As I go to book signings now for my own books, I find that 95% of the people I encounter are courteous to me. (For that other 5%, I guess I am being paid back for jumping over to another aisle and avoiding an author.) As I ask people to take a look at my work, I find about 85% of the age 20 to 30 somethings are in a rush. They have their phones up to their ears talking or have their fingers busy texting. Usually, they do smile at me and just shake their heads “no”, maybe even mouthing “no thanks.” No actual words are exchanged, but I still consider them in the courteous category since they do smile at me. (Hey, you authors out there, tell me how to get them to actually talk to me!)
I feel so honored when someone stops and I get to strike up a conversation. I recently spent 30 minutes talking about Nascar with an older gentleman who must have been intrigued by me - an older, Grandma-looking lady who actually knew something about Nascar. The gentleman said he didn’t have any grandkids to buy the book for. As we talked more, he asked to look at the Hunter book and said, “Hey, I will find some kid to give this to.” He then proceeded to purchase two books. “Yes, I will find some kids for these books,” he said excitedly. That was a special moment for me - someone else besides myself showing excitement over a book - and he didn’t even have any grandkids.
At the same book signing, a middle-aged gentleman came up and shook my hand, saying “Congratulations, it’s nice to see someone is still making books.” This is the complete opposite of a comment I had previously received from a young mother with two kids in tow. She said, “I don’t do books. I download everything.” (Just wondering - do any of you young ones have this philosophy? Do the kids cuddle with their I-pads?)
In closing, it seems that there is a definite divide among age groups in our world and book signings reflect that divide. My suggestion to all, no matter your age, is to take a few moments to look at an author’s work when you encounter a book signing. I am not advising you to buy every time, but at least try to give the author a positive comment. After all, that piece of work contains the author’s blood, sweat, and tears.
I wish you all a Happy New Year! Maybe we should all make a resolution to rush less, and relax more! That includes reading more - from a printed book or I-pad!
Copyright 2012 Linda M. Penn, All Rights Reserved