London Day 7: My First Public Signing


The big day had finally arrived! My first scheduled signings. I was both excited and a little nervous. What if no one came? Ugh. Pressure.

We started the day by heading back to the flagship Waterstones in Piccadilly Circus, and they had finally received their late shipment of twenty copies. My publicity agent at Harper had already called ahead, and when we arrived, they were all arranged at a desk, waiting for me to sign:

One interesting thing I would like to note here. I must have gone to 15 bookstores while I was in London to sign shelf stock. Out of that 15, none of them asked me to actually prove who I was before letting me pull a pen from my pocket and start writing in their stock. Not one.  What if I was just some nutter running around pretending I was an author? No one cared. I guess it’s a low security area.

After Waterstones, I was starting to get a little nervous about the big signings, so Ensign Cole and I headed over to the Salisbury Pub around the corner from Goldsboro Books on Cecil Court for a glass of courage. There are few fears a double scotch on the rocks can’t dull.

We got to Goldsboro, and were greeted warmly by David, the proprietor. He recognized me right away, though we had never met, and ushered us inside, where we encountered a rather daunting pile of books:

Goldsboro is a shop that specializes in signed first edition books. Frequently, they will work with publishers to create specially rare versions of books. In the case of The Painted Man, they took the 6 character avatar icons I had drawnfor the manuscript and made them into stamps. The avatars were cut from the UK first edition hardback & trade paperback for space, but will appear in the US version, and may appear in other UK versions. These 6 images were stamped onto 25 books each, and sold online for the last few months as signed and numbered editions.

Believe it or not, they sold out! In order to fulfill continuing demand, Goldsboro had to order another 100 copies, and they are almost sold out of those as well!

What did that mean for me? Well, it was awesome to hear that I had sold 250 books, but what it really meant was that I had to sign, number, and date 250 books. It was a daunting task, but Dave and his partner Daniel were practiced hands, and set up an efficient assembly line to aid me as I worked.

I was done in an hour, and had plenty of time to get to The Forbidden Planet for the public signing. I even took a moment to look erudite and reflective outside the store.

We then met Jon, the Forbidden Planet manager, who was a really nice guyt. The first thing he did, though, was stick me in an office and have me sign their internet sale stock, as well. Almost 25 copies had been pre-ordered and were waiting for me to sign:

And that wasn’t even counting the ones out in the store for the actual signing:

I had a pretty sweet space to sign from. The table had a lot of history to it, covered in the signatures of past guests. I was honored to add my own scribbling to the testament.

I admit I was pretty nervous about the signing. I am generally an introverted person, more accustomed to sitting alone in my office typing than to receiving lines and small talk. I’m used to being the wallflower at the party, not the spectacle in the room. I was afraid I would say or do something stupid, or that no one would show up, or something. I don’t know what. It just seemed like a bizarre parallel universe where people would go out of their way to meet me and have me sign something for them.

Turns out I was worried about nothing. There was a decent crowd lined up for the signing, and I was so genuinely stoked to have my book on the shelves and people buying it that I think my grin took in my ears. I couldn’t have been happier to sign anything anyone put in front of me and was genuinely glad for the opportunity to meet everyone and thank them for supporting the book.

The very best were the people who had already read an advance read copy, and who still wanted to shell out thirteen quid on a hardback for me to sign. Dave-Brendon had his friend Liz go to the signing for him and send his copy all the way to South Africa.  Two more people said they had read the advance versions of the book and wanted to meet me and thank me for writing something they enjoyed so much.

Then these two very pretty blonde girls come up. I’m not stoned in this picture; I swear:

“Hi, thanks for coming!” I say. “Should I make this out to anyone?”

“Could you make it out to Chantal?” one of them asks.

“Sure,” I say, but I pause. “Your name is very familiar…” I begin.

“Oh, I got an advance copy of the book on Amazon Vine she said, and I wrote one of the first reviews. I gave it five stars!”

“Did you really?” I asked, thrilled.”Fantastic! Thanks so much for doing that!”

“I also did this silly thing on YouTube about the book,” she said. I almost ran my pen off the side of the book as I paused in my signing.

You did the YouTube thing?!” I demanded.

“Yes…” she looked nervous.

“My publishers went apeshot over that!” I said. “Shit, so did I! You rock!” I held up the book I had just finished signing. “Did you pay for this yet?” I asked.

“Not yet, I just took it off the desk,” she said.

“Well you’re not going to,” I said. “Your money’s no good here. That video probably sold more books than this signing, and you are awesome for making it.” I signalled Ensign Cole and asked him to see to it that her book was paid for. Come to think of it, I still owe him thirteen quid for that.

Of course, I signed one for me blessed mum, who couldn’t make it to the signing, but insisted on having Myke BUY her a copy for me to sign, rather than letting me give her a free one. Thanks for keeping my Bookscan numbers up, mom!

All in all, things turned out pretty amazing. Including the pre-orders, the signing helped generate about 60 sales (some people bought multiple copies), and I signed quite a few more copies for the FP shelves and for their affilliate stores. It was a great first experience, and I appreciate all the Forbidden Planet did to make it happen.

After the signing, we went to a bar down the road (whose name escapes me; apologies to the fine institution, but that’s what they get for getting me so drunk: No shout-out.).  The bar had a mixed drink on their menu which consisted of pineapple juice used to disguise about 30 kinds of rum and liquor. We might not have given it a second thought, but for the name: Demon Cleaner.

We bought two pitchers, and it was downhill from there.

My editor, Emma, and the Harper Collins publicist, Alice, came out to the bar. Alice soon plead boyfriend and left early. Emma tried to do the same, but we all did that thing where you keep convincing someone to have just one more until they are well and truly planted. I’m so glad it worked. More than anything else on this trip, I had wanted to get drunk and bond with Emma. She has been a rock of support and enthusiasm from the very beginning of my professional career, and I knew from our phone conversations that she was an awesome person, to boot. The kind of person you want to share a beer (or ten) with. We spoke in fluent nerd the whole time. Half the table was looking at us as if we were speaking another language, and the other half felt like they had found a lost tribe.

We stumbled out aroud 11:30 and headed back to Camden Town, where we closed the night with a few Guinness at the Crown and Goose with two hot Czech ladies, Pavlina and Martina. Did I mention The Painted Man will be coming out in Czech?

I stumbled back to the hotel around 3. It was a good night.

Posted on September 11, 2008 at 10:30 pm by PeatB
Filed under Events, Sales, World Traveler, Writing

12 responses to “London Day 7: My First Public Signing”

  1. You don’t owe me anything. That’s quite possibly the best 13 pounds I ever spent in my life.

    Posted by Myke, on September 12th, 2008 at 12:55 am
  2. Frankly I’m amazed you still had the strength to hold a glass up to your face after signing all those mountains of books!

    It WAS a good night, for sure.

    Posted by David, on September 12th, 2008 at 2:50 am
  3. Oh wow! I’m in one of the pics looking stoned! ha ha

    It was awesome to meet you and your protectors – they did a good job.

    I’ve got all of Sunday dedicated to the Painted Man.

    Liz x

    Posted by Liz, on September 12th, 2008 at 5:44 am
  4. Haha, could I look more unhappy in that first photo?
    But I’m so honoured I got a mention on your blog and TWO photos 🙂
    It was so awesome meeting you and the team. Mind you, haven’t you got repetitive strain injury from signing all the books yet? :S

    Posted by Chantal, on September 12th, 2008 at 6:23 am
  5. Signing all those books wasn’t nearly as hard as I expected. I guess in total it’s only the equivalent of hand-writing a few pages of prose. It wasn’t even that tedious; I was so stoked to be doing it that it carried me through with ease.

    I don’t think you look unhappy, Chantal. You look like you’re thinking “Is this guy fucking stoned at his own signing?” In the second picture you seem to have decided I’m not and warmed up.

    Hope you like the book, Liz!

    Posted by PeatB, on September 12th, 2008 at 8:38 am
  6. All these pictures, not a single quarter, I can’t tell anything.

    Posted by JABberwocky Joshua, on September 12th, 2008 at 6:15 pm
  7. Deamon Cleaner. I love it. I hope you make a batch some day stateside.

    Posted by jayf, on September 13th, 2008 at 11:49 am
  8. I think you should make a batch and light it on fire! You know, to represent Flame Demons. And then toast mini marshmallows over it, like at the Zombie Hut! Those could represent…um… Marsh Demons! Yeah!

    Heh heh. Fire’s cool.

    Posted by dani, on September 13th, 2008 at 11:12 pm
  9. I checked webtender, but Demon Cleaner isn’t on the list, and when I google it, all I get is song lyrics. Someone is going to have to find that bar in London and get the recipe. I think it was off Charing Cross Road, around the corner from Foyles/Borders UK, by a licensed sex shop.

    Posted by Peat, on September 14th, 2008 at 7:29 am
  10. Peat – I’m addicted. I started on TPM today and almost ended up in Epping! I forgot to get off my train for work = not good = very good for the book. It’s awesome!

    Posted by Liz, on September 17th, 2008 at 12:42 pm
  11. Missing a train stop is always a good sign. I missed a few while I was writing it, too!

    Posted by PeatB, on September 17th, 2008 at 6:51 pm
  12. The Painted Man is the signing with an Arabian theme. And since there is the ones that we can do about it. So view the signing often.

    Posted by Marco Hurley, on September 24th, 2008 at 3:32 pm