Booksigning Nightmares

December 3rd, 2004 · 8 Comments
by Jill Monroe

My mom called me this morning at 8:30. I could tell by the tone of her voice that she’s been up worrying since around 2.

“Jill, I really think you need to get a manicure before your booksigning.”

Just so you know where I am on this – I haven’t had a manicure since 1994. I do the obligatory daughter groan.

“There’s a place just down the street from you that will do a full set of nails for 18 bucks.”

At this point she’s lost me. At first, I was thinking hand massage, orange stick, maybe a light coral coat – I might could do this. Mom’s thinking acrylic. Nail tips. Not going to happen.

But my mom has brought up something I hadn’t even stressed about. See, when I scheduled a booksigning, my fears were something like – the bookstore forgot to order my book, no one shows up, customers ask me where the bathroom is. The thought that anyone would be scrutinizing my nails had never even entered the picture.

“And really, you need a new pair of black shoes.”

“Mom, I’ll be sitting behind a table. No one’s even going to see my shoes.”

“That’s exactly why you need to get your nails done.”

Yes, she got me. Reeled me in there like a fish. Little does my mom know no one will be paying attention to my hands because they’ll be so distracted by the dark circles under my eyes. I’m chaperoning a lock-in for 13 first and second graders the night before.

Okay, so what does one wear to a booksigning? Anything pink and feathery is right out. I will also not be holding a small dog. Really, I’ve run into quite a lot of weird stereotypes of what a romance writer looks like and how they act. I do virtually none of those things. I do have a tiara – but it was given to me (actually, I like my tiara and every woman over the age of three should have at least one).

So should I just fall over the cliff and go for something red and green? Maybe a sprig of evergreen?

“At least get your shoes buffed.”

You can check out my shoes and nails (and my books) at my very first booksigning, this Saturday, December 4th.

File Under: Jill's First Blog

8 responses so far ↓

  • C.P. Sanders // Dec 3, 2004 at 11:28 am

    Hi Jill,
    I just found your blog thingy. I never could figure them out during the elections when everyone was blogging. Now that I have a friend who is rapidly becoming a blog pro I’m looking forward to vastly expanding my knowledge on the topic.

    Enjoyed your mom’s concerns. I needed a good laugh this morning.

    Jill, Be yourself!
    If it makes you less self conscious to fix your nails, fix them.
    If it makes you feel like a fraud, don’t.
    As for clothes, wear something comfortable that doesn’t show sweat. (oops, I forgot. Grandma always said horses sweat, men perspire, and women glow)
    Wear something that doesn’t glow too brightly.
    You could wear something you would ordinarily wear to church or a business-casual kind of meeting.
    Or, you could go really casual if not eccentric.
    Casual could have a theme. (e.g. Christmas, Romance, OU, etc.)
    I think eccentric is cool.
    Dress like a lobster or computer monitor or something blue from your book. (You could sit at the table and vibrate as you sign.)
    Or come dressed like a large heart with your head and neck sticking out of where the two sides come together. You would be remembered. (I won’t suggest as what)

    I think the most important thing is that you are comfortable enough that you can relax and have a good time. If you are enjoying yourself then your readers will too. Having fun is contagious and creates a positive image. I saw a Garth Brooks bio the other day and he was talking about the day he realized how important it is for his audience to see the entertainer as relaxed and having fun, too.
    This isn’t quite the same thing, but it is similar. If you are relaxed and
    at ease it will make you appear more approachable.

    Now ignore everything I just wrote,
    don’t worry about anything
    and just go have a good time.

  • daniel olivas // Dec 3, 2004 at 5:51 pm

    jill, as i sit at my book signing table tomorrow, my thoughts will be with you. i made the mistake of agreeing to a date and time when the usc/ucla football game will be on…and i live in l.a.! yikes! what did i do? anyway, i have plenty of reading material at the ready. and luckily nice little notices went out in the l.a. times and great lit blogs like the elegant variation and l.a. brain terrain. i learned from my last book signing at this store that i should have a bowl of candy and copies of book reviews ready. that way, if the potential customer isn’t ready to commit, he/she can have a treat and read a review and perhaps come back later and buy. good luck!

  • booksquare // Dec 3, 2004 at 8:32 pm

    You wanna know what I think? Wear the tiara. It is truly the only accessory a woman over three needs. Well, except for a killer purse and extremely high pointy shoes. And a fun watch. Also, maybe a boa. Depends on the season.

    Just remember to have a good time. And to know where the restrooms are, not so much for yourself, but because people assume authors are also part-time tour guides. Just sit back and enjoy the ride. Also, take pictures for those of us in Los Angeles.

    Oh, and make sure to use the sparkly gel pen. At least you’ll be amused. Yeah, I’m just full of useless advice!

  • Susan Gable // Dec 4, 2004 at 6:30 am

    First booksignings are fun. Subsequent ones…well, not as much. My best advice is after the first one, always do booksignings with another author – that way you have someone to talk to when the patrons of the store/mall are doing their best to ignore you. (G)

    And yes, use the sparkly gel pen. (G)

    But seriously, since this is the first, enjoy it. We’ll talk more about the fantasy-that-doesn’t-measure-up-to-reality later.

    Daniel, I’ve found that a bookmark with a mini-blurb on it, and some other info is a fantastic booksigning tool. You can pawn it off on everyone who even glances at you, and sometimes it even entices them to pick up your book. (Sometimes it makes them run the other way, too, but hey, what can you do, you know?) And if they walk away, at least they have your bookcover and name in their hands as they do.

  • daniel olivas // Dec 4, 2004 at 9:35 am

    susan, good idea! i saw that done recently and i keep forgetting to do it. what i do have are repos of l.a. times and el paso times reviews of the two books i’ll be signing; my website is conspicuously at the bottom of each. i assume any kinkos can laminate some premade bookmarks, right?

  • booksquare // Dec 4, 2004 at 10:44 am

    Jill and Daniel — good luck with your signings today (I’ll be locked into Pasadena…this game makes driving pure torture). Susan, excellent advice…something tells me when the time comes, I’ll be eager to skip the signing process. Will probably send Jill as, despite her extreme shyness (!!!), she’s better at small talk than I’ll ever be.

  • Linda Rooks // Dec 4, 2004 at 12:15 pm

    All I can say is anytime Jill is running on little or no sleep…. well, I’m happy. Payback is hell, don’t you know.

    I’m sure you will find time to ‘decompress’ this afternoon. Hope the signing went well. I remember the scene from She Devil where Meryl Streep is having the booksigning from hell while her agent and lover are reading her horrible reviews. So… whatever happened… it could have been worse!

    Besides, how could anyone not want your beautifully flowing F? oops. Hope you didn’t make that mistake!

  • daniel olivas // Dec 4, 2004 at 7:29 pm

    thanks for the info. it went great! the mall was busy (b. dalton’s sits near the food court) so i sold about 15 books and had great conversations with folks. i also handed out info with my website. people were so nice. one mom bought a couple books for her teenage daughters because they refuse to read the classics…she figured more contemporary fiction might do the trick.