Robin and I recently did a book signing together in a town where we knew absolutely NO ONE. We were parked at a table smack right in front of the main entry way, so incoming customers had three choices: 1) vault over the top of us; 2) veer sharply left or right as if we had the bubonic plague; 3) stop and look at our books. For the introverted customers, it was a bit of a nightmare. You could read it on their panicked faces as they came in and struggled with the dilemma of US.
If Robin or I had been at the table alone, it would have been mortifying all around. We've talked here previously about how helpful the buddy system is. This was a prime example. Nearly the first question I ask when I'm asked to do a book signing, if she is not already on the docket--"Can my cool author friend RL LaFevers come sign with me?" They always are thrilled to accomodate.
And, if you're not already convinced, here are Seven and a Half More Reasons to Do Book Signings with a Buddy:
1. You have someone to talk to when you don't have a customer. It is truly an uncomfortable feeling to be sitting at a table in a bookstore all by yourself. * Everyone is trying very hard not to make eye contact with you. I start having very vivid flashbacks of my 8th grade graduation dance.
2) If someone picks up your book and says, "Is it any good?" (people say the darndest things), your tablemate can wax poetic about it while you get very busy straightening your stack of postcards that have suddenly gone amuck.
3) You have someone to cover you when you go off to powder your nose or hunt for a Diet Coke. Potential customers won't think the book signing is over.
4) Is there anything better in the world sitting next to an author in a real live bookstore surrounded by books? The two of you can chat about all the ones you want to read!
5) You bring in more revenue for the store with two authors, and you'll leave the store manager/owner with a warm glowy cha-ching feeling about you, when maybe it was your tablemate that sold all the books.
6) You can compare giveaway schwag with each other. Find out where to order the coolest pencils, best postcards, try the newest flavor of Hershey chocolates, in case one of you always brings chocolates.
7.) After doing several signings together, Robin and I have concluded that we appear much more approachable as two authors. We don't look as needy or scary to parents or children. (IOHO)
7.5.) Can I just tell you again how helpful it is to have someone cover for you when you need to use the facilities?
If you are getting ready to do your first signing and you don't yet have a buddy, or are doing your 88th signing and still don't have a buddy, Robin and I are available for hire. If you live more than 60 miles from Santa Barbara, please send airfare. And we neither of us would argue with a little stipend, and oh, maybe a tiny clothing allowance-- and if you really must, fresh chocolate chip cookies are always so lovely. Robin will take lemon bars. (Kidding!)
*Stay tuned for an upcoming post entitled How to Survive a Book Signing When You're Alone. There are some excellent tricks for making it easier.