Since my first book was published 21 years ago I have participated in many book signings, and my experiences have been good and bad. First, the good. I think most published authors will agree that their first booksignings are the the best. Everyone wants your first published book. I sold over a hundred copies at my first booksigning. It was held at our neighborhood independent bookseller’s, and every member of my local Romance Writers’ of America chapter came and bought my book (even though at the time it was a very tiny chapter) and many, many people from my local community came out to support me.
|A Booksigning from My First Book, 1998|
I had another signing for that first book where I sold almost the same amount. A lot of the teachers I used to teach with came to that one. I also went to California where my sister lived, and she arranged a signing at Barnes and Noble where all her friends came, and it too was very successful.
When the next book came out, I got the same amount of publicity for book signings, but those who bought that first book no longer came out in large numbers. Hey, they’d already bought a “romance” book and gotten it signed by the author whom they happened to know. They didn’t need another.
Book signing attendance at subsequent booksignings dropped.
I’ve even done book signings – not in my local community – where I had zero sales.
The West Houston RWA has author autographing at its meetings, and I am really not comfortable signing there. I’ll tell you why. I’d estimate only about ten percent of the chapter members support these signings. And that makes me feel uncomfortable. I always try to support my fellow authors, and when they don’t support me, it hurts my feelings. I know I shouldn’t feel that way. Reading is very subjective. I get that not everyone likes historical romance. There are plenty of genres I don’t like to read. I should have thicker skin.
|One of my last booksignings, at RWA national, San Antonio, publisher booksigning.|
After all these years, I’ve gotten to the point I realize the small amount of sales from direct contact won’t impact my royalties, so I choose not to do signings. Except for those sponsored by publishers at the national RWA conference. These are great. The reason? The publishers GIVE away these books. I don’t feel like I’m sitting there begging someone to buy my book. There’s a huge line of readers lining up before the doors open. They’re just dying to get your book. Within ten minutes, the stacks of books on your table has been wiped out, and all the fans leave with smiles on their faces.
Another reason I don’t have to do book signings any more is that since the proliferation of eBooks, 98 percent of my sales now come from eBooks. When I started in this business, 100 percent of my sales were paperbacks.
Not having to do booksignings is just one more reason to love my eBooks.—Cheryl Bolen, whose newest release is Last Duke Standing, a Lords of Eton Regency romance.