Thursday, May 09, 2024

Worst Book Signing Ever

A Beautiful Book Signing at a Library

I have gone to many book signings in the hope of selling some books. In the photo above, at a library, I was treated royally by the librarian. But nobody showed up. 😕

I have discovered that there are good days and bad days to hold a book signing. The day before Mother's Day is a bad one to sell and autograph romance books, at least that has been my experience. Many years ago, I was scheduled--along with three other authors--to do a book signing at a bookstore in northern New Jersey. When I arrived, the store did not have any of my books. I had some in the car, which I put on the table, but it didn't matter. I did not sell a single book.

Of the three other authors that were supposed to be there, two showed up. They sold a total of three books.

Not many people were in the store. It was a glorious day outside. If I had been at home, I would have done some gardening. I suspect that is what many people were doing. Others were probably enjoying family time with their children and grandchildren, which is a wonderful thing to do on Mother’s Day. Or go out to eat. 😁

As unprofitable as that book signing was in northern NJ, I believe the worst book signing for me was in a small bookstore in a local town where the road outside the store was being repaved the night of the book signing. It would have been better for the owner of the bookstore to reschedule the event, but she didn’t. There is a municipal parking lot in the back, but for those who like to park on the street, it would have been impossible. The noise of the repaving was constant and loud. The smell of hot asphalt permeated the air. Not many people came into the store. However, even that night, I sold some books. So, it wasn’t a total loss.

Still, I just haven't had many good experiences with book signing events, which makes me hesitant to sign up for them. 

Make me feel good. Tell me your worst booksigning experience.


Jane Bierce said...


When Hard Shell Word Factory published TIME OF POSSESSION, I made arrangements to go to Pittsburgh to be interviewed on KDKA and have a signing at Kauffman's departmant store. The book is set in Pittsburgh and depands on football and the Christmas Season.

So much went wrong! There was a national crisis and my interview was totally pre-empted for a Senator to discuss it. All my other news releases and promo had been ignored. The trip cost me about $400 and I didn't sell a single book.

Jane Bierce

Jenna Leigh said...

I got fussed at (in front of authors, readers, etc) by a fellow author because the title Braless in the Buick is quote--risqe`. That author wrote a book about selling insurance.
I felt about 3yrs old, I tell you. I'm only thankful my mama was out of earshot because, she carries a weapon. It was in the truck, but still. LOL!!
I'm sorry you didn't sell any books it does happen. Maybe you'll make up for it next time by selling double.

Penelope Marzec said...

Jane: Four hundred dollars! Ouch! And I'm complaining about a full tank of gas. Hugs to you.

Jenna: I love your title. It always bugs me when another author judges a book--without even reading it. But to do so in front of everybody. Shame on her! That's plain, old bad manners. My Ma always told me if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it!

Leann said...

Well if I did book signings I would certainly convey my worst, but since I do't, I'll offer my condolsences and hope for brighter skies on your next!

Delle Jacobs said...

So sorry, Penny! Booksignings can be just grueling sometimes.

The worst I remember was years ago at a Barnes & Noble with a number of other romance authors. We were allowed to bring our books that the store couldn't get, but then we were shoved to a table way back behind all the other authors. And the one woman who wanted to buy books discovered there was no way she could pay for them. We did our best to make it an educational experience for readers, and the book buyer who had invited us was terribly embarrassed by the treatment the store gave us. But that was way back in 2000.

Marly Mathews said...

So sorry to hear about your awful booksigning, Penelope!


Penelope Marzec said...

Leann and Marly, thanks for your sympathy. I've got a booksigning set up for next month--in a library. I do hope it goes well.

Penelope Marzec said...


It is difficult to understand why a store manager would not use the opportunity to full advantage. The manager on Saturday was not very helpful.

I get the feeling some managers don't like authors--unless the signing author is really, really famous.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you Penelope about store managers wanting famous authors. I have never been brave enough to have a book signing but I do attend a lot of them.

I know the new CRM at the Princeton BN if you need an in.

I did see news footage of Loni Anderson's book signing--no one came. The reporter showed Loni's setup in front of a store at a mall and people walked right past her. That must have hurt her ego.

Don't let it get you down. I hear from many of the authors that book signings are a necessary evil--some are better than others. :)

mary grimm said...

The worst I remember was when I was signing at (I think) a B&N in the time slot right before Barney was supposed to visit the store. The only people who came up to the table were parents wanting to know when the big guy was going to be there.

Penelope Marzec said...


Too bad you were upstaged by Barney. Maybe you should have sung some of his songs. :-)