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Saturday, February 27, 2010

On book signings and such

The thing about book signings is that you never know how many books will be sold, if any. You can only hope. And if you're with other writers and nobody buys your book, but buys the others, how depressing is that! But you have to give it a go.

Last night, I went to the opening night of Continuum 6 on the request of my publisher, Paul Collins. The new Ford Street novel, Solace And Grief (soon to be reviewed here!) was being launched and Paul had hoped that some of his other writers might also be able to sign some books. And Paul has been very good to me over the years, so I went, though normally Friday nights are family-only for me.

The con organisers kindly agreed to let us do this. For once I wasn't going to the con; I just don't have the energy right now, though I am going to Aussiecon 4 later this year. Not after Dad's passing.

After the Chronos Awards had been handed out, Paul got up to speak briefly before heading out into the foyer to set up the book stall. Sean McMullen, who had to go elsewhere afterwards, spoke briefly about his Ford Street novel, Before The Storm, a thoroughly entertaining novel centred around time travel and a fanciful attempt to blow up the first Australian Parliament in 1901. I went up after him to talk about my own Crime Time: Australians behaving badly. It wasn't like my launch last year, when I had a fair amount of time to talk (they sold just about all the books on the stall that time), and in all fairness, it was the evening of someone else's launch, so I did my best with a minute or two, and did manage to get some chuckles when talking about the idiocy of crooks, especially those in my book.

Then Foz Meadows, the author of the book being launched, got up to speak. Lucy Sussex was supposed to launch her book, but was a little late - due, it turns out, to public transport delays. The author spoke about her attempts to sell, her writing at work because the boss was less likely to catch her than if she was on the Internet and read the opening chapter. Finally, Lucy got there and did a good launch.

After that, we went out into the foyer. George Ivanoff, Foz Meadows and I sat down to sign. Sean hung around for a little while, but had family commitments. He did sign some books, but not sitting down.

I told him about my good news, because I have known Sean since before he became a bestselling writer - actually, since before he sold anything at all! - and he was very pleased for me. It was because Sean persuaded me to join the SCA that I learned to write fight scenes convincingly.

i made sure Lucy knew too, because as commissioning editor at Hodder, she had tried to help me get the novel through, and I felt I owed it to her to know that it finally HAD got through.

The thing about non-fiction, even though kids prefer reading it, is that it's harder to sell - especially children's non-fiction. Crime Time has had some fabulous reviews and sold well enough to school libraries, but try finding it in the bookshops! Even when it has been there, I mean. It gets put into the adult true crime section. And naturally, adults who pick it up and realise it's a children's book put it down. And if you put it in the kids' section, it disappears, because bookshops simply don't know how to display children's non-fiction.

The sad fact is that nobody takes you seriously unless you've written a novel. Maybe after my new novel is out, more people will ask for Crime Time.

Meanwhile, Paul did manage to sell two copies while I was there and asked me to sign a third before I left, just in case. One jolly gentleman was happy enough to chat with me about the book, but didn't buy it. Another gent did buy it and I was happy to chat with him! And Bruce Barnes, an old fannish comrade, also bought a copy.

Maybe the third went after I left, eh?


Satima Flavell said...

I hope lots and lots more sell in the coming weeks, Sue. See you at AC4!

Lee Ee Leen said...


Book signings are a gamble too, but I find them exciting