Wednesday

Book Signing at Chick-Fil-A--an even bigger fiasco!

I love Chick-Fil-A.  I love their ethics; I love their Diet Lemonade.

So I was really excited about the opportunity to do a book signing at the Chick-Fil-A nearest our house--about 45 minutes away.  I had set things up at least a month in advance with the Marketing Director, had brought promotional materials three weeks ahead of time, and the night of the signing I showed up ready to sell lots of books.

I was ready.  They were not.

I walked in with my banner and approached the counter.  "Hi!  Can I speak with whoever's in charge tonight?"

A very nice guy who looked like he was still in college came over with that "Can I help you?" face on.  I looked around, looked at him, then said something like, "I'm scheduled to do a book signing here tonight . . .(his eyebrows went up) . . .and . . . (his eyes went wide) . . . I bet you had no idea I was coming."

Poor guy.  I waited uncomfortably while he called the marketing person, talked with the staff that was there, etc.  I was quite ready to leave--it looked like it was their slowest night anyway, and I'm guessing the promotional materials never made it out of somebody's office.  Quite surprising.  I am definitely not criticizing Chick-Fil-A.  I still think they're awesome; this was just a glitch somewhere.

Anyway, just as I went up and offered again to reschedule (anything to get out of this uncomfortable situation!), they started setting up a table for me.  I really didn't want to stay if it hadn't been promoted, but then the manager guy said some people had called in about it, so I didn't want to leave if people were expecting me to be there.

What to do?

Eat free food.  That was a great start.  They were very nice and gave me my supper for free, and some Diet Lemonade, which if you've ever been to a book signing, you know it's a great thing to have a drink of something in your hand to make you not look quite so bored sitting there waiting for someone to show up.

I sold 2 books.  Uugh.  It's embarrassing admitting that to you!  Blame it on the glitch, the major storm that came through, maybe my book stinks, who knows?  I did get to talk to some really great people (like a commander on the police force who has actually gone in and dealt with trafficking groups, who just "happened" to be there eating supper that night--pretty cool!), and like I said I love the Lemonade, so the evening wasn't wasted.

About halfway through, the manager guy left for awhile.  He came back in totally soaked.  One of the ladies said, "It wasn't raining when you went out there, was it?"

"No."  He smiled.

The lady looked over at me.  "Well, your name's on the marquee now!"



Poor guy again!  I didn't mean for him to get all soaked on my account. Though I have to say it was pretty neat having my name on a sign for all the world to see (or at least all the people driving through the pouring rain not wanting to stop and buy my book.  ha ha).

What did I learn from this fiasco? Double-check things before you show up! And if you are going to have a fiasco of a book signing, you might as well do it in a place where people are nice and feed you. =)

The thing I find funniest about the whole situation is that the photo above is a great marketing tool for me. I post it sometimes and people think it's really cool that my name is up on the sign at Chick-Fil-A, like I'm a great writer or something. Looks can be deceiving! =)

What about you? Have you had any book signings yet? Have I scared you away from every having book signings? ha ha Share your story below!

Related Posts: My First Book Signing-a Fiasco!

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32 comments:

  1. Hilarious! Thanks for sharing. And yes, that marquee is definitely cool! (And two books is two books! Right?!)

    :-D

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  2. You're right, if you're going to get stuck somewhere, Chick-fil-A is a great place to have it happen! You now have me curious, though -- I'm going to have to try their diet lemonade the next time I'm there. I've always been an unsweet kind of tea gal. :)

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    1. Haha Just so you know, it's super tart! My mom always dilutes it, but I love it. I can't have caffeine anymore, or sugar, so that eliminates a lot of drinks for me, which makes the lemonade all the yummier. =)

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  3. Too funny! I would never think of a fast food restaurant as a book selling opportunity but now that you've put it into my mind I might just set up in the parking lot of Wendy's with a my car trunk open:) The only place I've done signings so far was at a few wineries because my mysteries at set at a winery. The first one was pretty uncomfortable. They didn't even give me a place to sit, just a tiny table to put my sign and a couple books on. So I was standing in their little overcrowded shop trying not to be in the way of their customers buying cheese and wine to take outside for picnics, while still looking friendly and approachable. Mostly, I just got asked questions about the wine because they thought I was an employee. Awkward.

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    1. Oh yikes! That's what I don't like about signings--just hanging around feeling uncomfortable. I've found that speaking about my book's topic in places is way better. When people hear you speak, they feel they know you, and that makes you much more approachable. Seems it would work for you since people were already asking you questions! =)

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  4. Great story. Two books is pretty good. The most I've ever sold is 4 and that was with a buy one, get one free deal.

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    1. I hear you! I used to have mega big ideals about book signings but have found that unless you're in a major store that already has good traffic, it usually doesn't work as far as selling. For making contacts it's nice, but like I said above, speaking has proven far more successful. I'd recommend giving it a try if your books have an interesting topic!

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  5. You didn't move a lot of books, but you collected a great story to tell for years to come. And free food. Classic! And I hope God blesses you with a sellout at the next signing. And more free food.

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    1. Thanks! I'm all for free food. ha ha
      Yes, as a writer, a good story is gold!

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  6. I LOVE that! Great story :)

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  7. My heart hurts for you. If the venue doesn't promote you, sales will certainly be low or non-existent. I've had a few of these so then I look for the one person who needs the Lord and spend time talking to them.

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    1. What a great idea. And no need to hurt for me, though your consideration is much appreciated! This was quite awhile ago, and I've learned from the experiences. They've helped me hone my marketing attempts to what is most effective.
      Have a blessed day!

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  8. I've done a few at libraries, but never at a restaurant. I'll have to work my way in! It's awesome that you're on the sign. Don't fret about the 2 books. Think of it as one more book in someone's hands. Sometimes you'll have 2; sometimes you'll have 20.

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    1. Libraries are great, especially if they let you do a book presentation.

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  9. I've been at this book-writing thing for thirty years now (40 titles under my belt), and I have more stories like this than I can count. UGH! I really do "feel your pain." Several years ago, when one of my books was being carried in Wal-Mart, we set up a book-signing on a Saturday afternoon. The manager was gung-ho to promote it, and my publisher sent a wonderful banner that was supposed to be displayed in the store several days ahead of the event. My mistake? I didn't check to be sure it really was hanging and the event being promoted. I just showed up the day of the signing to find NO banner, NO table or books set up, and the manager off "on a family emergency." The people filling in were clueless. They finally threw something together, and I spent the better part of the afternoon sitting at a table piled high with books, directing people to the restroom. Bottom line? Never assume the venue has done what they promised. Assume that you will have to do it all, because you probably will. Even then you may only sell three books. Probably better to stay home and work in the garden or bake cookies.

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    1. Hahahaha Well, at least you helped people. =) Yea, I'm finding a little work over the internet is often a lot more effective, and less exhausting! I'm so thankful to be living in this day when the web provides access to the world, not just the people looking for the restroom!

      For me, this particular book singing was worth it because of getting to talk with the police officer who was the one who got to "go in with guns blazing" in trafficking situations. I learned a lot from him that I had wanted to know, and info I've used in my speaking. I would have gladly come and had an interview with him, so God worked that out quite nicely!

      Nevertheless, baking cookies sounds very appealing at the moment--I think you've convinced me not to ask the manager at Wal-mart about doing a signing, as I'd been thinking of doing. =)

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  10. I love that the manager put your name on the sign! And where can I get some of this Diet Lemonade? I love lemonade and summer is coming :)

    Christi Corbett

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    1. I don't know if you can get it online or just at Chick-Fil-A stores. You could always google them online and see! =)

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  11. I can totally relate. Last year I had a book signing for my second book "The Road Home", the year before I had a book signing at a local yogurt place for my first book, "Growth Lessons" and it had gone so well. They had my marketing materials ready and had promoted me, so it was my logical choice to launch my second book.

    I followed the exact same procedure the second time, expecting the same result, but that was not the case. They had new employees, so when I got there the girl didn't recognize me and was not informed that I was coming. I was scheduled to be there as soon as they opened, so I arrived 30 minutes before. Although I identified myself the girl would not let me in or allowed me to hang my outside banner.

    She called the manager who didn't remember our agreement. Thankfully I had my laptop with me and I was able to show the girl the email exchange. They finally allowed me to set up. I had three "helpers" with me because the first time I had sold over 15 books and had a lot of people coming, so while I interacted with people, my helpers were doing the actual sales. But that had been a well promoted book signing by the venue. So just like you this time we were all hanging out, talking to each other and I too sold only two books that day and went home. So I totally understand and yes the name on the marquee is totally cool...

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    1. Oh groan... Amazing isn't it how we just never know what's going to happen? My next book launch is June 26th and I thought of doing a big launch party/signing and all that, but remembering earlier experiences like these, I think I'm going to try another strategy. Instead of spending the money and time etc., I'm going to go to the local TCBY for a couple of hours and let everybody know so that local friends can come over and buy books to avoid paying for shipping. I'll bring the kids and we'll make a family night out of it, so even if nobody shows up it won't be wasted. And hey, there's ice cream involved, so that will make it good no matter what! =)

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  12. LOL I feel for you. My first book signing (many years ago) was on a special request from the higher-ups at Harlequin. It was my first book and I was thrilled. I showed up at the grand opening of a new Kroger store only to find out they'd forgotton I was coming. So they asst store manager grabbed a shiny new metal trash can, opened my box of books, and handed me a pen. What?! LOL I sold about a dozen books but it was very...humbling. :)

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    1. A trash can??? Oh wow, that takes the cake. =)

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  13. I see a few pluses here. 1)The person in charge did work with you. 2)He really went out of his way when he put your name on the sign board. 3)You met someone in law enforcement who may be a source for technical advise for future stories. 4) You sold two books.

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    1. Definitely! And my kids got to play in the playground, I got a great photo to use in marketing, and free food too. =)

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  14. Great story! My first book is too short for printing so I haven't done a signing yet. But now, thanks to this and the comments above, I know how to better prepare for if I do signings for my WIP (which is plenty long) :D Since it's about Ireland, I'm thinking maybe contacting the little celtic shop in the nearby touristy, Scottish-style town...

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  15. I laughed, I teared up, I felt proud to know you. The prospect of doing a book signing scares me to death! I fear no one would show up. At least you sold two books. Of course, the lemonade is definitely worth it all. I love it! It's awesome that you have a photo of your name on the board. You have arrived! And don't put yourself or God down by saying you aren't a fabulous writer. You have to remember to tell me that when I say the same thing about myself. God uses everything--even a fiasco.

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    1. I've found the least frightening way to do this is having a multiple-author book signing. Then even if nobody shows up you still have a great time hanging out with other authors!!! I would LOVE being at a signing with you, Karen. =) And anytime you need a reminder that you're a great writer, you just let me know--because you are!

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  16. I have done hundreds of these things. Done 'em at bookstores, spas, hot springs, churches and seminars. I go where they will have me. Sometimes I sold 0, sometimes 2, sometimes 102. Best numbers were from a B&N tour in NYC/DC. Sold out in each city. Thought I was hot stuff. My inflated ego was of little importance compared to the story below.

    But the best of all was one time in Austin. My name was on the marquee of an old theatre. A recovering alcoholic friend of mine was walking the street, about to drink again because he thought he was a failure as an artist. He looked up, saw my name and it gave him hope.

    He told me the story years later. That meant more to me than thousands of book sales. Writing is about making a difference. Some of us also make a living, but not if we forget the reason we write. So sometimes the greater good is not selling books, but promoting hope in ways that we never know. Don't give up. Ever.

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    1. Wow! What a neat story. Thanks for sharing!

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  17. What a great story! I have friends who own a CFA. I might have to ask them to let me try it at their store :).

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  18. Our Chick-fil-A is too crowded to do a book signing! Always busy!

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