Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Autograph anyone?

Pat Davids here.
I'm getting ready for one of my least favorite activities. A book signing. The picture above is me in the red and the lovely Kim Vogel Sawyer in green at a book signing in Atlanta several years ago. That wasn't a bad signing. Steeple Hill gave away the books so people lined up to get them even if they didn't know the author from Adam or Eve. I may be smiling in the picture, but trust me, I am terrified.

Don't get me wrong. I love meeting readers and talking about my books, but I don't like sitting like a lump of coal in front of a bookstore trying to entice perfect strangers to come over and check out my book. That's hard enough, but autographing each copy is tough. I mean, what do I say to those perfect strangers?

I've got a few standard lines.
Best wishes,
Happy reading.
Enjoy the story.
It was great meeting you.

After that, I'm kind of at a loss. I never know what to write and I'm scared to death that I'll spell the person's name wrong. I keep a pad handy and I have everyone spell their name. I don't care if it's Mary or Lisa, they have to spell it for me because it could be Merry or Lesa.

Misspelling someone's name is scary enough, but why is it that people from your past always walk just as their name flies out of your head? I'm so nervous when I'm signing that I can't remember my own name. The worst time was when I signed in my hometown and the mother of a grade school friend walked up. It was Dalene's mother. We chatted for as long as I could stall but finally I had to ask, "Who shall I make this to?"

The dreaded answer. "Just me."

Now, I was really stuck. I had to drop my head and say, "I can't make this out to Dalene's mother or Mrs. Phillips." She laughed and said she hadn't been Mrs. Phillips for years. I should make it out to Ruth.
Of course! Ruth! Why couldn't I think of that? It's such an easy name.

Wait, what is my name again? That's the other trouble with book signings. I use a pen name. Davids is not my legal name. Have you tried signing a fake name dozens of time? Sometimes I mess up. There are a lot of books out their with a signature of Patricia M. Davids. My middle initial is not M. My real last name is MacDonald. I usually catch myself was soon as I start the M but a few books are signed Patricia MacDonald Davids. My secret is out.

Okay, now I want to know what are some of your funny or awful book signing stories? Authors, what salutation do you use? Readers, what kind of personal note would you like an author to say in your book? I'm always looking for new material.
Have a blessed day.


Ramona Richards said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ramona Richards said...

I once had a joint signing with several other authors, including Sherrilyn Kenyon (who is awesome). Her fans came in costume. And in droves. I expected to be the lonely little petunia, but I wound up selling a lot of books to her fans who bought them for their _____ (mother, sister, aunt, grandmother, great-grandmother....). Their first question? "Is there sex in these?" When I'd say no, they'd reply, "Great! Let me have two!"

Turns out, most of Sherri's fans are from FAMILIES of readers.

Kim Vogel Sawyer said...

My worst signing was in a store near Kansas City (I shall not name names to protect the innocent!). I drove several hours only to find out they had forgotten I was coming. No table ready, no advertising, not even extra books on hand. Dismal. So very, very dismal...

Pat Davids said...

What a great testament to the power of our work.

Pat Davids said...

Hi Kim,
It's so nice to see you here.
What a horror story. I had one signing where only six people bought books. It was a long two hours.

Anonymous said...

Hi Patricia. I don't care for signing either. I'm kind of sy and have a hard time asking people to buy my book. I like the idea of the notebook, because like you, I'm afraid to misspell their name. I try to do signings with other authors so there is someone to talk to in the down times. Plus there's always the chance everyone will have more sales because of it.