Saturday, March 25, 2006

The Elusive Romance Reader

Ah, the book-signings. I’m beginning to see why authors might not be interested in doing them. I mean, unless you’re famous and readers flock to your signings hoping for an autograph and just a few moments in your presence, well then maybe, but for those of us newbies…it’s just kinda awkward. I could tell you some stories…

We drove to Florida (from Houston), and mid-trip, I forced my family to stop for a signing at the Barnes & Noble in Pensacola. Veeery interesting. Gotta love those B&N employees…one bought four copies of my book for various family members. Then there was the lady who almost succumbed to the pity-buy. For the record…I discourage that kind of thing. And then…there was the guy who stopped by the table and asked if I believed in ‘Life Everlasting’. I wasn’t sure what to make of him, particularly after the discussion continued for a good five minutes beyond that, but I tried to keep my face from revealing the many emotions careening around in my brain: ‘Is this a joke?’, ‘Are these trick questions?’, ‘Is all this leading up to specific questions about the sexual content of my book?’ ‘Is there any chance that this discussion will lead to a sale?’ Finally the manager stepped in, and he drifted off, and with a whole new perspective, I realized you just never know.

Where, I ask you, are all the romance readers??? Don’t they shop in stores like the rest of us? Unless people are a lot more coy than I’ve given them credit for, they’re not actually looking for romance novels in the bookstores. The moment a person comes in, I try to peg them as a possibility or not (it passes the time). Sometimes I’m right, but usually I keep an eye on a few of my ‘targets’, wondering if they are cautiously interested in my book but circling the signing table, not certain whether to risk coming closer. They’re always looking for literary fiction…or thrillers…or mysteries. I hardly ever see anyone actually carting a paperback romance to the check-out counter. Not just mine—anyone’s! Is this just because the readers of romantic fiction come out covertly during the work week or under cover of darkness? Is it just coincidence? Little do they know that I’m not just signing books, I’m conducting a fascinating anthropological study of ‘the romance reader’.

I wonder if signings would be more successful during the week rather than on a Saturday afternoon… Difficult to know. Anyway, I digress. Following our arrival on Sanibel at 3:30 Sunday morning, I journeyed back across the causeway at 10:15 the following morning on my way to the Borders in Naples. Whew! That was just painful. Very few people even approached the table. Evidently they sold a few books before I arrived, and I sold a couple right off, but then virtually nothing happened for a good 2 hours. The moment I left the table, I saw two separate people step up and read the back cover of my book. Go figure.

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