Friday, November 8, 2013

Christmas book sales & what I sign

I put the finishing touches on my first big Christmas order for my book yesterday. It was 25 copies destined for friends of a sweet central Pennsylvania woman I’d never met.

She was given a copy of the book last year and enjoyed it so much she wanted to give it as gifts to all her best buddies.

Bless her heart.

That’s very gratifying.

I was fortunate enough to have about a dozen orders of more than 20 books during “Use All The Crayons!” inaugural roll-out. This is, I think, the first mass purchase from someone I’ve never met.

It wasn’t me selling the book. It was the book selling itself. 

I take great care signing each and every book. Every single purchase is very special to me so I want to ensure it’s extra special to the recipient.

This, of course, makes good business sense. People will probably talk it up more if it comes with a little evident love on the title page.

But that’s the secondary motivation. If you’ve written a book that claims to make people happy, I figure you had darn well better be genuine about ensuring that outcome.

So as many of you, my friends, know, I put a little “Author Self Portrait” crayon doodle like you see above in the upper corner of the title page, and color in the clip art with different crayons. And they’re, of course, signed in crayon.

But to me the message I sign on each book is what makes it special. Here it is:

“Never forget for even a single instant how many happy colors your life is forever adding to the lives of those you love. Remember, together we can all brighten the whole world!”

I’ve tried and I don’t think it can be shortened or improved upon. It conveys what to me is the very essence of the book. I didn’t think of it until after I’d begun signing books or it would have certainly been in the book, rather than on it.

So it takes me about 8 minutes to sign each book. That means John Grisham’s signing 24 in the time it takes me to sign one.

Of course, his books are outselling mine by about 10 times even that ratio so let’s not begrudge him his economizing.

Another point: I always get the list of names so each book can be personalized.

That’s where it gets tricky. Because I alter the message when it’s a gift, even as I know squat about the relationship between the giver and the recipient. The signing starts like this:

“Eve asked me to sign this book just for you, Adam, for all the happy colors your life is forever adding to hers . . .”

It occurred to me when I was signing some of these to names like Bob, Frank and Burt that a typical male might read more into the note than intended.

The realization began tempting me to an almost irresistible mischief.

I thought, hmmm, now what if I wrote on Burt’s  “. . . and Eve thinks you’re probably a really great kisser!”

It’s unlikely Eve would detect the deviation and on Christmas Day the relationship between these two individuals would take a dramatic turn.

Maybe she does feel that way or maybe Burt’s been pining for a signal to make a move and -- who knows? -- maybe Burt really is a great kisser.

There’s a chance my chicanery could make these two happier than any book ever could. There’s a chance they could wind up married, have children and one of the kids could grow up to discover a cure for something itchy.

Imagine the publicity.

This isn’t the first time I’ve been tempted to questionable activity regarding book signings.

See, I’ve for the past year been walking into book stores that sell my book and asking if I could sign them. Various store clerks are either enthused or indifferent.

But none of them is ever careful.

Never once has anyone said, “You say you’re Chris Rodell? Prove it!”

No, they just say, go ahead, have at it. And I go and sign my books.

It occurred to me I could say I was anyone and sign anything any way I want.

I could scribble in all the self-help books about overcoming loss, “My only regret is my book’s not as good as the one Chris Rodell wrote on the shelf right next to mine!”

I don’t think anyone would know.

The sex books are always near mine (another reason I’m always scrupulously checking up on my book’s status). I could grab one of the really racy ones and write on the title page, “My very favorite position is sitting in a comfortable chair reading Chris Rodell’s book!”

I could sign it in lipstick, “Love, Jenna Jameson!”

I guess I was mistaken.

I think I have found a more compelling and concise way to sign a book.

I wonder what Burt would think.

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