This Saturday I had my very first bookstore book signing and it went way differently than I expected.
First of all, it was awesome. My family, friends, and strangers being there, seeing my name on my book, purchasing it and having me sign it – it was a dream come true.
Second, it was horrifying. I had a lot of people rsvp saying they’d be there, but I was still scared I’d be sitting there alone staring into space listening to crickets. Not everyone showed up, but enough to where I was greeted and always had someone to talk to. Yay!
Third, and the one that really got me, was the realization that if I didn’t smile and talk to every single stranger I saw, I would not sell any books. People did not come up to me to see why I was sitting there or strike up a conversation. I had to do it myself. Most of them thought I worked there, even though I had a huge sign saying I was the author right next to me (with my photo!).
My problem? I have really bad social anxiety. I could never be a saleswoman, striking up a conversation with strangers at the store with an ‘are you looking for a new cell phone carrier?’ or ‘would you like a bath remodel quote?’. Every time I looked at someone entering the store, my body would begin to shake and my hands sweat, but I said hi anyway. Most time they just say hi back and walk faster. But sometimes, they slow down and take a closer look, and I give them my pitch. Sometimes it worked and they walked away with my book in their hands. Other times they congratulated me and went on their merry way.
On Sunday, I had a book signing at another bookstore, and this time I knew what I was getting into. I perfected my pitch, got myself ready to stop people who are holiday shopping, and sell some books. And I did.
Even so, I’d be happy never to have to do it again. I hate being the annoying salesperson I myself always try to avoid eye contact with. But, I understand now that it’s part of the gig, and I will have to continue on if I want to be a successful author.