The Fortune Cookie Chronicles

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    Signing books in book stores…a humbling (and encouraging) experience

    By Jennifer 8. Lee | March 28, 2008

    Borders guy holding autographed Fortune Cookie ChroniclesSo during our downtime in San Francisco, I ran around to local bookstores with Naomi Epel “signing stock” as they say in industry parlance, which means that you sashay into stores and say you are an author and you want to sign your books. Very proactive authors do this (I should really do this in Los Angeles, but I am really too tired and I don’t have Naomi).

    It’s both a humbling and encouraging experience. For one, you realize how few copies of your books certain bookstores might just have on hand (two, or maybe just one, buried in some book shelf) and then you think oh goodness, how many “one” copies of a book it takes to sell thousands. On the bright side, sometimes you learn that is because they might have so few because they sold some of the others, especially the ones that were in the front (good sign, that is what happened to me in Borders in Union Square, they had sold all the ones downstairs). City Lights originally had five copies of my book, but they had sold four and had more on order.

    My publisher also told me that Barnes and Noble had just reordered, which is a good sign just three and some odd weeks in and they are one of the largest accounts. It’s all about exceeded expectations.

    If you sign books, the nice thing is that you meet the book store employees, so they put a face to a name. Also sometimes the autographed books get more prominence, as the Borders in Union Square for example has a wall just for autographed books. The prominence helps if people are just browsing in the store and happen to pick up your book (as opposed to it being buried spine out in the cooking section).

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