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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Book Signings: Joel N. Cobbs

by Joel N. Cobbs

· DO NOT be afraid of talking to people. Go to a bookstore, talk to the manager (preferably the General Manager) and set up an appointment.

· DO NOT give up! If a bookstore doesn't want to carry your book, just move on to the next one. If you decide to try the same chain, only do it once more or you'll be "flagged" and will have a hard time getting a signing there later on.

· DO NOT throw tantrums. Sure, this SOUNDS silly, but you'd be amazed. Having several friends in the business, I've heard many a tale about rude customers, but I've also heard some interesting ones about self-published authors.

· (EXAMPLE) A lady went into a Huntsville bookstore with a book she'd self-published. She didn't have the buyback guarantee and the store was unable to carry her book. She left in a huff, making a scene and attracting a lot of attention to herself and the people around her (INCLUDING THE GENERAL MANAGER.) Believe it or not, word travels fast between bookstores, almost as fast as Vegas casinos. If you throw a fit in one store, I promise another will hear about it within a few minutes, probably before you can get there. (How do you think I heard about it?)

· DO go the extra mile. For me, the best experience I had with author signings was with Rick & Bubba. They were scheduled to be at our store at 3 in the afternoon and leave at 6 (yes, only three hours.) So how long did they stay? Until EVERY CUSTOMER LEFT! (Which ran right up to the time we closed.) They even stayed a few minutes after the customers left so the employees could meet them and sign autographs. See? Because of that incident, when I think of author signings they IMMEDIATELY come to mind. Think of it this way, these are the people who are buying your books and telling others to buy them. You want every experience they have with you to be the best and one they'll never forget (in the good way, of course.)

· DO get your name out there. Email the local paper and ask them (say "please") to put a small something about your book signing. Email the contact person at the local news station and tell them about it. Tell your friends and family and ASK them to tell their friends and family.

· And once again, be nice. Realize that times are tough, bad things happen, etc. etc., and just swallow it like a mature adult and move on.


  1. Wow! I can't believe an author would be so rude or so silly. Just goes to show you that communication skills are vital! Not just feeling comfortable enough to talk to folks, but doing it effectively!

  2. I think the retail industry has its share of those who are rude. I am happy to report most of my customers are kind and often become friends as they visit year after year at convention sites.