A booksigning at Coas is always fun. The owner lets me plunk down behind a table right by the door, brings me a cup of coffee, then leaves me on my own for two hours or so on a Saturday morning. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve sold books there—five, maybe six—and I never sell fewer than five copies or more than six. This past weekend I arrived early, sat down, and started smiling at people. It was going to be a good day. After all, hadn’t my good friend Dave sold 35 copies of his novel the week before at this same table? His book even costs more than mine.
People stopped and smiled, then moved on. Or didn’t stop at all. A couple of previous customers said hello. My friend Joan staggered by to say she was getting over pneumonia. Another showed interest but claimed to have no money. One nice fellow spoke to me for ten minutes because we have the same last name. An elderly gentleman asked if this was a book he could read to his granddaughter. I said no, and he left. A gangly mountain-man type wearing boots, dusty denim, a broad-brimmed hat, and a long beard half-glanced at me and shook his head as he left the store. They allow all kinds in here, his look seemed to say.
This is no way to get rich...
After a while, he seemed to have a point. What was I doing here, wasting my time, selling nothing for the first hour? Several people looked at my book, said “I’ll think about it,” and disappeared into the store. That usually means they have no intention of buying my book, but they are too polite to come out and say so. My only consolation was going to be the sight of all the pretty women walking by.
Then the unexpected happened: One of those folks who said they would think about it came back to the table with a copy for me to sign. She actually had thought about it. Such a relief; I hated the thought of striking out. And along came three New Mexico State students to chat me up, and two of them bought copies. But the most satisfying sale was to a woman who said she would wait to buy it used. She never paid list price for a book, she said. She much preferred to buy books for a dollar, which you can easily do at Coas. I said oh, that’s fine, but she kept talking until she convinced herself to spring for a copy then and there. (Today she wrote me an email to say she just finished the book and how delighted she was with it.)
So I sold five for the day, but also met a couple of prospects for editing manuscripts, and one for building a website. Not bad. I can’t always judge a booksigning just by the number of books signed.
Later in the day, I proofed a novella in exchange for a purchase of eight copies of my book. This is no way to get rich, but life is good.