One clear lesson from my two major book signings: People in places where there is lots of booze and mine is the only book are more apt to buy my book than sober folk who can choose between my book and tens of thousands of other books by people like Twain, Steinbeck and Grisham.
I intend to plan accordingly.
Don’t get me wrong. The Saturday book signing at the Greensburg Barnes & Noble was a smashing success. Sold 18 books in two hours.
That’s a lot.
In fact, you could argue the 43 I sold over four hours to friends and local inebriates at The Pond on October 4 makes Saturday’s effort a statistical tie.
I’ve done my share of book signings over the years and when it goes poorly you begin to have sympathy for good-hearted, but homely hookers.
You’re there all by yourself for hours. Most people ignore you. A few will ask about what you have to offer and how much you charge. Some will try and shame you into giving them a freebie.
So it was a real joy to have so many enthusiastic people show up to buy “Use All The Crayons!”
Some had seen this Eric Heyl story the previous week. A few heard me on Dow Carnahan’s radio show that morning. Most were strangers.
One burly guy stood there dumbfounded in front of my table for a minute or two before asking a question: “You from around here?”
“I’m a trucker from over in Somerset,” he said of the nearby town. “I’m driving eight to 10 hours every day so I listen to a lot of audio books. This morning I was on Audible.com and your book was featured on the self-help page. I looked at it and thought, man, I’ll have to remember this one. It looks perfect for a long drive.”
He said there were already two positive reviews.
“And now I come here and I see the same book and the guy who wrote it. It’s hard to believe.”
I was tempted to tell him it was bound to be a sign from God and he should buy a dozen books. Instead, I just agreed in wonder. It was very weird.
I told him he should really buy the hard copy of the book, rather than the audio, and I’m not saying that because even homely hookers have to eat.
My little drawings and how I sign the book is making it very special for people. It brings tangible joy.
I know this because I’m in the thick of Christmas signings. Just this week, three satisfied readers placed Christmas orders for 14, 12 and 10 crayon books (discounted to $14 a piece) destined for dozens of friends.
This type of thing has become common. I’ve filled orders for 24, and twice for 20 for people who are so mad for my book they are intent on giving it to friends and loved ones, certain it’s the perfect gift.
Hardly a day goes by when someone doesn’t order three or four. Certainly, I should be directing them to Barnes & Noble or amazon.com so those healthy sales would register with national beancounters.
But the signings make them special. Why would I deprive someone of the opportunity to give a gift that shows a lot of heart from every angle?
And let’s make this clear: nobody buys 10 or 20 copies of my book because they’re friends with me or my wife. That’s too much money to spend out of chummy obligation.
No, people love the book and they want to share it with others.
The heady reaction is causing me to shed my default self-deprecation earned through years of failure and rejection.
There’s too many positive indicators assuring me this book is striking a chord and is going to succeed.
I thought of that when the woman you see pictured above came up to my table and asked to buy two books.
She and her husband had read Eric’s story, checked out the website and packed their two daughters up and drove 30 miles just to meet me.
I’d have been blown away even if the woman hadn’t endured a day of family taunting by wearing her crayon sweater. Lovely!
I’m beginning to appreciate just how many people are yearning for something exuberant, something colorful, something that understands just how difficult this life can be and how essential it is for us to do everything we can to fill it with fun while we all still can.
If you know someone like that, I swear, I have just the thing.
And shame on you if you think I’m talking about fixing you up with some lonely hooker.
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