Monday, October 21, 2019

Making signed books special

It would be a total jerk move, but I often think about entering book stores and posing as another author to sign their books in ways that promote mine.

I’ve signed a lot of books in a lot of bookstores and never once has anyone asked me to prove I’m Chris Rodell. I could pose as any number of more successful authors and the book seller would cheerfully hand me a stack of books and leave me in peace for 30 minutes, free to drift around the store and snag any number of books by illustrious authors.

Then I can surreptitiously sign what I want and return the book to its shelf. That way prospective readers will open the book to find:
“I’ve sold 500 million books. I really don’t care if you make this 500,000,001. I’d rather encourage you to buy ‘The Last Baby Boomer,’ by local author Chris Rodell. He writes with wit and sparkle. You won’t be disappointed. His books are so magical they ought to be taught at Hogwarts!

J.K. Rowling

Or …

You really ought to consider buying ‘Use All the Crayons!’ by Chris Rodell. It’s so funny and soulful it makes me feel like giving up writing to go back to being a small town Southern lawyer struggling against — pick one — organized crime/corporate greed/racial injustice/fleshy temptation. But because people like you keep buying my books, I think I’ll just crank out another one about a small town Southern lawyer struggling against — pick one — organized crime/corporate greed/racial injustice/fleshy temptation.”

John Grisham

The vast majority of book buyers may find their books more compelling than mine, but no fair reader would say their signings are better than mine.

I’m one of those rare writers who puts as much thought into what he signs on the book title page as he does for things like actual book plot.

I have a John Grisham-signed book. Know what it says?

It says John Grisham

That’s it. I’m not even sure it’s him that signed it. For all I know he could have some intern who sits there all day signing “John Grisham” to an unknown percentage of the whopping 275 million he’s sold.

Buy from me a new “Growing Up in the REAL Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood: Life Lessons from the Heart of Latrobe, Pa,” and here’s what you get:

“There’s a happy place in every human heart where we’re all neighbors and everyone gets along. May you forever call it home.”

Takes me 45 seconds to sign one book like that.

I’ve sold/signed more than 350 copies since the book arrived Oct. 9. BTW, the average self-published book sells 250 over its lifetime so thanks to those of you who’ve helped make me above average in just 11 days.

 But 45 seconds. That’s 15,750 total seconds or about 4 1/2 hours writing the same 24 words over and over.

I’m reminded of Jack Torrance in “The Shining” maniacally stuck on “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” (10 words).

So why do it?

Because I think it matters. I think it makes the purchase more special and I think the message resonates with readers. 

See, I take what I do seriously. I don’t sit down to write a book with the idea of making a lot of money foremost in my mind.

Mission accomplished!

I want to enjoy the endeavor and I want the reader to feel enhanced by the purchase.

It’s why I sign the Palmer books, “This is NOT a golf book. This is a LIFE book.”

It’s why I sign “The Last Baby Boomers,” “May you truly live each and every moment right up until you truly don’t!”

And it’s why I should win some kind of award for signing the crayon books, “Never forget for even a single instant how many happy colors your life is forever adding to the lives of those you love. And remember, together we can all brighten the whole world!” (33 words).

Maybe someday I’ll be so consumed with success, my idea of an authorial book 
signing will be me scribbling my name in my books (2 words).

Until then I’ll continue signing my books in ways I believe will reach peoples’ hearts. 

And I’ll sign other authors’ books in ways I hope will eventually reach me in my wallet.

“To be or not to be? That is the question. But a better question would be, “Why aren’t you buying Chris Rodell’s book?”

Bill Shakespeare

Updated book signing schedule …

Oct. 26, Jeannette Public Library, 1 pm

Oct. 27, Ligonier Library, 2 pm

November 2, Greensburg-Hempfield Area Library, 2 pm

Nov. 4, Mt. Pleasant Public Library, 6 pm

Nov. 9, Vandergrift Public Library, noon

Nov. 12, Ohio Co. Public Library, Lunch w/ Authors, Wheeling, WV., noon

Nov. 14, Westmoreland Chamber of Commerce, noon, TBD
      Adams Memorial Library, Latrobe, 6 pm

Nov. 18, Murrysville Community Library, 6:30 pm

Nov. 19, New Florence Public Library, 7 pm

Nov. 22, Barnes & Noble, Greensburg (movie debut party)

Nov. 23, Barnes & Noble, Altoona, 1 pm

Nov. 24, Barnes & Noble, Monroeville 2 p.m.

Nov. 29, Tin Lizzy/Flappers Black Friday bar celebration, 7 pm

December 1, Barnes & Noble, Greensburg, 2 pm

Dec. 12, Upper St. Clair Library, 7 pm

Jan. 29, Bethel Park Library, 7 pm

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