We had our first book signing at Waterstones Newport, Isle of Wight today. It also coincided with very heavy rain. Not a good combination. We thought it might drive people into the shop. It did, but unfortunately not many children with families. Anyway, when we arrived the amazingly friendly staff welcomed us and made us tea! We arranged our table and soon after the photographer from the Isle of Wight County Press arrived to take some snaps. Our children loved that bit.
We settled down to wait for the crowds to arrive. Of course, they didn’t. To say it was quiet was an understatement. A few children turned up and were happy to do some colouring, but when their parents found them, only one bothered to pick up the book and when I invited children to come over they just looked at me with worried faces and ran off to find their parents – “Mummy a scary man just asked me to do some colouring!” :-).
I think people who passed didn’t connect us sitting/standing at the signing table with the books arranged in front of us. It was only after talking to several people did they realise we were the authors and it had a local connection. Even then they didn’t buy. Due to the layout of the shop, there wasn’t room for us in the children’s section, so we found ourselves between Gardening Picks and Current Affairs, which meant any families and children on their way to the children’s section didn’t see us. Also several customers used the free chairs around the table to sit on and read other Waterstone’s books. One woman even leaned on an open copy of our picture book with her wet arms! I eventually pulled the book away and wanted to tell her that if Waterstones has to return the book it’s us that has to pay for it!
Up sides to the day were when staff asked me to sign all the stock. I felt suddenly like a “real” author and put an individual message in each book, and on request dedicated a book to a Waterstone’s member of staff. It was also a big ego trip to see the black “Signed by the Author” sticker going onto every copy.
So what did we learn? Selling books is a hard business. There’s millions of other books in competition. Books are not a “must have” buy for most people. We’re not likely to make our first million vey soon 😉
We’d like to say a massive thank you to Paul and all the staff at Waterstones, Newport IOW, for their hospitality, support and opportunity to promote our children’s picture book – Jack and Boo’s Bucket of Treasures! You are brilliant! And thanks also for giving us a prime spot in the window. We hope to sell all copies very soon. Role on our next signing in Hastings in July!