When I was a little girl—a Brownie—I had to sell Girl Scout cookies. Back then, we’d go from door to door in our neighborhoods. I couldn’t do it. I was shy and timid—yes, I was!–and the idea of asking someone to buy something from me really frightened me. For that reason, my mother gave a contribution to the troop. I truly believe I would have hidden in a closet if she told me to go out and knock on doors.
Years later a group I belonged to in high school sold donuts for a fund raiser, once or twice a semester. Again, I couldn’t do that. This time, my mother frozen the box of a dozen we had to purchase.
This part of my personality makes book promotion very difficult for me. I have to turn into another person to push myself, to ask people to buy my books. I do but I’m never comfortable. The best example of that distress pops up during book signings.
During some signing, lots of friends show up—and I appreciate those friends greatly. When they don’t, however, I’m left alone at the table in the front of the store , attempting to sell myself and my books. o lure people to my table, I sprinkle chocolate candy across it. People will sidle up to my place, refuse to make eye contact, grab a piece of candy, and dash away. Others run past me so fast that I can’t make a pitch or make eye contact. My table is often mistaken for an information booth and I’m asked where the rest rooms are or where the delivery man should put the boxes he’s delivering.
Then I force myself into my salesperson role, smiling broadly and chirping about the wonderful book I’m signing. One afternoon, I sold eight books to people I’d never met and consider that a great success. More often, I sell none or one and most of the shoppers treat me as if I had a terrible and easily communicable disease or I’m a raving, chirping idiot from whom their children must be protected.
I end this blog with a plea. If you are in a book store and you see an author sitting at a table—all alone—in the front of the store, please don’t run. If you don’t want to buy a book, at least smile at the poor soul. We would all really appreciate it. And we’ll give you candy.