Sunday, July 04, 2010

My Welsh Waterstones Tour - Stop 1: Aberystwyth

The route to Aberystwyth, via Shrewsbury, by train took me through the lushest part of central Wales; field followed green field

until, at last, we reached the coastal plains of the Dovey

and ten minutes later the old station of Aberystwyth.

The buildings are washed with colours that manage to be both cheerful and dignified

while chapels are of the tabernacle style with pillars, elevated and with a confident importance.

The main street's bustle

gives way to a quiet side street and a sudden hush. At the end an apparently grandiose buidling

turns out to be only one room deep

facing the sea.

But I'd come to sign books, and from the cross-roads I'd detected it: the white W on black


and closer still

and then the bill-board with Simon's poster.

From across the street it looks like this

the window to the left displaying local books

and mine!

The Waterstones booksellers in Aberystwyth were very good and had everything ready: a cloth covered table and a little pile of my books near the front of the shop.

The manageress showed me a useful magazine article she'd come across book signing and gave me a cup of coffee. I then deposited my bag in the office at the back (always of interest to me - the innards not on public show) and then came out to find Vicky Humphreys from Seren, back to her home town for the weekend - such a pleasure to see a familiar friendly face - and who took this picture.

It took me a little time to summon up courage to speak to people. In the end I decided the best line was 'Please could I tell you a little about my book...' and people were generally kind (except one man who just bluntly replied 'No.'). Several politely watched my films (although the 3 minutes seemed to take so much longer in a shop) and a few people asked me to sign my book and bought a copy (which delighted me to a ridiculous extent). I also managed to sell one of Paul Murray's Skippy Dies to a woman who was looking for an amusing read, which in turn wryly amused me.

I have learnt a little from this: (i) although I did notify the local newspaper I did not get a reply - I need to try a little harder, and maybe follow-up with a phone call; (ii) a card I could stand up with a little about the book and a quote might work well (this was Vicky's idea); and maybe (iii) a set of book marks or flyers might be a good investment; (iv) I need to be braver and approach more people (and not wait for eye-contact).


Blogger Jim Murdoch said...

I wondered how you were going to use the videos. I kinda thought you'd be addressing a group - that's the way all author events I've been to have worked (you give a wee talk, read an excerpt or two, answer questions and then do a signing) - but you seem to have been given a desk here and left to muddle through on your own. Although it's too late now it might have been better to have a flip chart or something so you could keep talking. As you say, three minutes of not talking is an eternity.

Sun Jul 04, 10:57:00 am  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Yes, Jim, that's pretty much what I did at Hay and at my launch, and a flip-chart would have been a good idea there, but this was just a signing (always a tricky one even for many relatively well-known authors, I think). My idea was to attract in-store customers to my signing table with my films. It worked to some extent because it gave us something to focus on, but it was still quite hard. I think it works best for the extrovert author - but this is a rare breed.

Sun Jul 04, 11:06:00 am  
Blogger Sue Guiney said...

This was exactly like my experiences when I toured with Tangled Roots. It's so hard, but I believe so worth it. And I look forward to doing it again next year with "A Clash of Innocents." Your idea about the book mark is a great one. I'm halfway through your book, and loving it. I'll write more about it when I finish.

Sun Jul 04, 01:06:00 pm  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Well, it's reassuring to hear that you think it worth it Sue, because to be honest there were times yesterday when I had my doubts. I had to keep reminding myself to concentrate on the good - all the positive responses rather than the negative (which were fewer), and to try and enjoy what I was doing, because it really doesn't come naturally to me.

Sun Jul 04, 01:12:00 pm  
Blogger Kay Cooke said...

I would find that very hard to do Clare - you were / are so brave - but then I know that about you from reading your blog! Best of luck with your other book signings. I have your book now in my hot little hand and just today started reading it - loving it!

Sun Jul 04, 01:45:00 pm  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Oh, you are always so kind, Kay. Thank you!

Sun Jul 04, 01:51:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love your use of photos in this post!I also sympathise with your diffidence in approaching customers in a bookshop. I had prepared my own leaflets about my novel, The Dangerous Sports Euthanasia Society and lots of people took them, but didn't come back to me with a book to sign. I guess they took the details and bought it on-line.
Still, at least it was being read!

Sun Jul 04, 04:26:00 pm  
Blogger mareymercy said...

Pictures, flip charts, anything unusual that's visual - or even some music? - could attract attention without having to go too far outside your comfort zone. When one of my students was promoting her poetry at a huge conference, we recorded her reading and just played it (LOUDLY) so people would stop and check in with us. It really did work.

Sun Jul 04, 04:46:00 pm  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Thank you, Anon! What a great title - and yes, I suppose that will always be the case that people take things without buying - and if they buy it on-line that's good too. I was thinking about providing something edible...but maybe that wouldn't go down too well in a bookshop.

Great ideas, Twitches, my film on my laptop does have music already, although it is a bit quiet. Maybe I need speakers....

Sun Jul 04, 07:55:00 pm  
Anonymous Mary said...

The mere thought of approaching people to sell my book would give me hives, Clare, and I've never had hives. Marketing, putting myself Out There, seems so foreign to me and doesn't match my observer personality. Way to go on having the courage to put yourself out there. Would it help to have a more extroverted friend or family member around to break the ice?

Mon Jul 05, 02:31:00 am  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Good idea, Mary, but they'd have to take a day out of their lives to come with me - and I think that a bit much to ask. It is the ice-breaking that's the problem, and finding the will to do it again and again. I think having something to offer would be a good idea - I'm working on that at the moment.

Mon Jul 05, 06:31:00 am  

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