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September 20, 2006


Byron McAllister

Quite irrelevantly, but on a related subject, I've found that since my books sell only modestly well and since I and my co-writer are voracious readers, we usually lose money at book signings, because we buy too many of other people's books. Well, gee, we would probably have bought them anyway, and, after all, it's nobody's fault. Probably a good thing, in fact.


Bryon, that's always what I did when I toured, too. If it means anything, booksellers do remember the people who buy something, even if it's a tiny purchase.

Deborah Elliott-Upton

Kris-- You've hit this in the bullseye. When I was a reviewer for our local newspaper, I was amazed at how little authors knew about marketing and even less about business protocol and manners. Thanks for putting this article online. I am sure you've saved someone from making those mistakes in the future. Yea, you!

Barbara Reed

Boy, you couldn't be more on target. When I started writing I wanted to learn as much as I could about the selling and publishing processes so I could see what it would take to convince a publisher to even want my books. It's the same in any business, but sometimes when people are doing something a bit more "creative," they forget that there is a business side connected to it. And that within that business, they just aren't as unique as they think they are. It's the same in the music business. You've never seen so many self-centered jerks as musicians who are asked to supply promo for a gig. Same with writers. And then asking them to see it from the bookseller's point of view--well, if they got out into the world a little more maybe they would, but .... that could be expecting too much. As for manners and consideration, I wouldn't take any crap from them either. Your comment about how many centers can one universe have if perfect! I guess some people get things and some don't. They'll go their whole lives asking why they can't get a break without realizing they created that situation themselves.


Oh, Kris,
I winced to think people didn't know this stuff.


It sounds as if being a bookseller has been a real eye-opener for you.

Thank you for your perspective on this. We can all learn so much from each other.

Beth Groundwater

Great post! When I was a businesswoman, I learned that solving problems for others, versus creating them, was the way to get their help in solving your own. And, make it easy for someone to help you. I can't believe the audacity of some of the authors you mentioned. Thanks for the great advice for those of us who are preparing to embark on our own first promotion tours.

Chester Campbell

It's hard to believe people will act so stupidly, but I've seen it happen. I guess one advantage of not having a big ego is you go in with no great expectations, so when you find somebody willing to help you succeed, you knock yourself out to be cooperative.

I'm glad we have booksellers like you around, Kris.

Robert Weibezahl

Kris -- Just amazing, but not surprising given how "me, Me, ME!" the world has gotten. Maybe it's because I spent years as a publicist or maybe it's just because my momma raised me right, but I can't imagine what motivates such behavior. Ignorance, I suppose. Or let's at least give them the benefit of the doubt and chalk it up to ignorance.

Maybe that's the key. When publishers actually did their job and booked their authors into events, said authors could just show up, smile, and sign books. Now that (most) publishers place the onus on the author to organize his or her own promotion (a foolish policy in so many ways, but that's another post!), the poor "creative" souls are out there without a clue. I believe every publisher, large and small, would be wise to provide authors with a "Do Be and Don't Be list" (remember "Romper Room"?). It's the least they could do, and would go a long way in keeping everyone happy. Your list would be a good jumping off point.

Thanks for the entertaining, if mystifying, thoughts.


I thought I'd get flamed for these remarks, but it's been encouraging that the responses I've gotten, both here and in direct emails, have been so supportive. Most people and most authors really are thoughtful. I think some of the people who commented here really hit it right -- some authors simply don't regard this as a business. Certainly writing is an art and a craft, but selling books is a business that demands professional, business-like behavior. Thanks for your comments, everyone!

Patricia Harrington


Great blog and information to remember. I always try to buy someone else's book at the bookstore where I do signings. It's a courtesy to the bookstore, because I know done well that the owner isn't going to become a millionaire from the bookstore. Most go into the business as independents because of their love of books and reading.

I feel so pleased when I'm asked to do a signing. The least we authors can do is to remember that we're guests, and act that way.

'Course, I'm older, raised in a different generation. And I occasionally use words like "piffle" as an exclamation. That always brings giggles and eye-rolling looks from my granddaughters.




Hi, Kris:

Another issue I didn't see mentioned ... if an author is going to ask a bookseller to link to his web site, it would be nice if when the store's customers reach the site, all the purchase links don't just go exclusively to Joe's Bar and Books Mega Discount Store... What bookseller is going to consider sending her customers to another site that only offers a single competitor as a purchase option a good business decision?


Excellent point, M'e! I suspect it's usually a thoughtless choice; they simply don't see it from a bookseller's perspective. Or they hope to receive a few pennies of associates' rebates from Joe's Bar and Books, and don't appreciate how much more valuable their associations are with the stores that actually hand-sell their books.

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