Signing books is like waiting for a bus!

Waterstone's Chichester today.

The staff had put me in a good position opposite one of the entrances and under the stair well. It sounds as if I was pushed away out of sight but I wasn't. It was a good prominent position and with a bit of creativity on where my husbund and I hung some additional posters I could catch the customers' eyes as they climbed the stairs to the coffee shop. And boy does that coffee shop do well, I wouldn't mind having that concession. I put some leaflets in the coffee shop just in case I could tempt customers over their tea cake and coffee.

I have come to learn that book signing in the chains is a bit like waiting for a bus nothing happens for ages then three come along together. From where I was positioned I had a good view of the till and saw that it was exatly the same pattern there, moments of nil activity then queues six deep. The busiest department was the children's and I witnessed at least three kiddies succeed in pestering their parents to buy them a multitude of books. I'm writing for the wrong age group and in the wrong genre!

I noticed a few people loitering around the crime section, which in Chichester is right at the back of the store in a very narrow and old building, so I hastily despatched my husband there armed with some leaflets to try to stop them buying Ian Rankin et al and give an up and coming crime writer a chance. It seemed to work, we sold some books.

Book signing can be excruitatingly painful. At times I began to wonder if I should have stuck to the day job. But my background in Marketing and PR had equipped me well. If I can sell at an exhibition then I can drum up business in a bookshop. I manage to sell three copies to people who were brave (or foolish) enough to give me even the faintest glimmer of eye contact. The rest came expressly to see me, buy a couple of copies of my books, and as they said, 'meet a real live authoress.' Next time I thought I might wear a large badge announcing 'I'm a live authoress' or drape a placard around my shoulders saying, 'Stop me and buy one.' And, yes, I was surprised that people still use the term authoress, or perhaps that is just Chichester.

Anyway it's off to Staines next Saturday in Books etc. and before that Borders in Kingston Upon Thames. It will certainly be interesting.


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