Monday, June 8, 2009

It Takes All Kinds

Yesterday, Deb Baker and I attended the Printers Row Lit Fest in Chicago, signing books at the Mystery Writers of America (MWA) booth most of the afternoon -- the chilly, rainy afternoon, although you’d never have guessed it by the turnout. This book festival is ginormous. Blocks and blocks of booths filled with books – new, old, rare, out of print – you name it. Plus blocks and blocks of people who love books. Who can’t get enough of books. God bless you, everyone. And also God bless Deb’s hubby for making a coffee run for us. Brrrrrr.

As I sat there freezing my toes off (silly me, I wore sandals like it was June or something!) I observed people passing the displays we’d set out, noting how they responded to our pitches. If you’re not a writer, you might not understand that it’s not really in our nature to hawk our wares, so to speak. We’re the geeks who write, who sit all by our lonesome for months on end, creating fabulous new worlds and letting the people in our brains do our talking while we take notes, kind of like a social secretary.

What I’m saying is that it isn’t easy to be a geek and a salesman, too, which made it all the more interesting to watch the various methods authors used to get people to come take a look at their books. For instance, one author kind of hunkered down into herself and didn’t make a peep. I guess she was hoping people would spot her covers, be intrigued, and come over to buy them.

Another author aggressively pursued people, Billy Mays style. “Hey! I’ll bet you want to buy a mystery! Hey! Did you hear me? Get over here!” (Not a successful ploy, IMO.)

Then there was the polite, “Hi, you look like someone who loves mysteries.” Followed by a sweet smile. Or the, “Have you heard about the Flower Shop mysteries? Well, then, come on over and I’ll tell you.”

Oh, wait. That was my line.

What a fascinating study in human nature it was, because no matter what method the author used, some people responded to it and others ducked and ran for cover. Some people were shy about perusing books on a table if the author who wrote them was sitting there watching them, while others enjoyed the opportunity to talk to the person behind the story.

In case you were wondering, I didn’t really have a point to my story. I’m just sharing my observations. If you’re a reader, which type are you – the shy or the bold? Writers? What’s your favorite way to get people to pick up a book?

Happy reading,
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