Mark Terry

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Mark's Book Tour, Day #1

October 5, 2006
Today was the day I began my so-called "book tour," if you want to call it that. Essentially I've got a list of the bookstores in the state of Michigan and I'm going to try to visit most of them and sign stock if they've got it and ask them to order books if they don't. Joe Konrath's Tour 500 Record is safe from me. I might hit 50 this year, but 500 is incredibly unlikely. Hey, maybe next book.

Borders Express at Great Lakes Crossing was my first stop. They, unfortunately, did not have any of my books. Nor was I in their particular system. However, the two women who were running the story were fabulous and enthusiastic and gave me the corporate phone number to call to get into the system. I gave one of them--a big thriller fan-a copy of THE DEVIL'S PITCHFORK and signed it for her and we chatted for a minute, then I was off, only minutes away to:

Borders. Also at Great Lakes Crossing, where my publisher was supposed to be paying co-op to have the books on the main table. Only there weren't any there. Or in the local authors section. Or in the new paperback section. There was one copy in the mystery section. I took it to the information desk, introduced myself, asked her if I could sign it and if there were more in stock. After checking the computer, she said there were more in stock, she wondered where. After some hunting she found four more copies way up high on shelves, you know the ones you have to reach by ladders, waaaaayyyyy up there. She brought them down, asked me for ID (polite about her paranoia, anyway) and allowed me to sign three of them. The other information desk lady bought a copy right there, and I signed it for her. The two unsigned copies (I don't get it, but who's to argue) went back into the mystery section, and two of the signed copies went back up on the front table, or on the front Local Authors section. I said hello to two other employees and gave them brochures. One of the guys said, "Oh yeah, I saw that book. I think we sold it." [There's a business model thing going on here that makes me want to slit my wrists, but I'll discuss it at a later date]. I said thanks and left. Had lunch, then went to:

Barnes & Noble in Rochester Hills. They didn't have any in stock. I waited in line at the information desk (which was unmanned) with a few other people until the woman showed up. I let her handle the other folks, then introduced myself, told her I was a local author, and showed her a copy of the book. She looked it up to make sure it was in the B&N system (it was) and told me she'd order a couple copies for the store. I thanked her and asked her if she was interested in a copy of the book to read or give to someone interested in thrillers. She said no. Since she acted a lot like she wished I was anywhere but standing by her, I politely said thank you and left the store.

Borders in Rochester Hills. Here I got my first real kind of eureka! moment. Right there on the front table were 4 copies. I picked them up, took 7 or 8 strides over to the information desk and introduced myself to the two gents working there and asked if it would be okay to sign them. One of them said yes and asked if I had a good pen for it. I held up my ballpoint, but he said he'd go get their fine-point felt and handed me some Autographed Copies stickers. I also told him I hadn't had a chance to see if there were any other books in the store. He said he'd check. It turns out they'd sold one already. I signed the books, put the stickers on, thanked them kindly, put the books back on the front table and drove home. They acted as if authors showed up every day to sign stock, and maybe they do.

So far so good. Compared to the many book signings, luncheon talks and library talks I've given over the years, this feels remarkably stress-free and productive. The whole thing, including lunch probably took 2-1/2 hours and I met nine booksellers, visited four stores, sold one book, gave away one book, and signed seven.

Mark Terry


Anonymous Eric Mayer said...

Good for you. But I've got the shakes just thinking about it.

12:11 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

Compared to book talks, library talks, lunch talks and book signings, this was a total piece of cake. I just said, if the books were in hand, "Hi, this is me." Held out my hand and said, "I'm Mark Terry. I'm a local author and I was wondering if I could sign these and any you might have in stock."

Generally everybody ranged from cordial to effusively friendly. I wasn't asking for a book signing, I wasn't pressuring anybody, I wasn't trying to inconvenience or take up much time. They seemed genuinely glad (Except the B&N woman) to see me. I think it helped that it was mid-day on a Thursday. Try it at 1:00 on a rainy Saturday or Sunday, they might not be so enthused. Which is good. I'd rather not take up my weekends doing this either.

12:44 PM  
Blogger JA Konrath said...

Welcome to the Dark Side, Mark...

3:24 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

Oh God, "'s not true... it's impossible!"

"Yes, Mark... I am your father!"


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