Father’s Day Weekend Book Signing Madness

It’s a drizzly, grey Monday afternoon in England, and I just woke up. Still recovering from several days of non-stop events, including two book signings, talks to schools, and my first talk at a book club. Mum is still asleep, convalescing, barley able to croak out a word. Our goal was to smash our previous book-signing record of 98 copies of Hard Time – sold at Wigan Waterstone’s a few days before Christmas. We were praying for Father’s Day shoppers to come to the Manchester mall in droves on Saturday.

“I’m signing my book today if you like true stories,” I said to the first shopper on Thursday at Waterstone’s in Liverpool.
Eyeballing the display of jail outfits, he barked, “I’m not giving any support to criminals!”
Mum and I shrugged him off.
Mum approached the next shopper. “We’ve got an author signing his book today. It’s a great Father’s Day gift.”
The lady’s face creased, her eyes filled with tears. “My father died last week.”
“Oh, I’m terribly sorry,” Mum said.
“Oh, it’s alright.” The lady rushed away, head lowered, leaving Mum and I exchanging shocked expressions.
“Got an author signing his book today. It’s a great Father’s Day gift.” Mum handed a leaflet to a lady.
“The only thing I’d give my dad for Father’s Day is arsenic.” The woman marched away as if going home to murder her father.
Mum turned to me, her face resonating despair. “How can we tell anyone else it’s a good Father’s Day gift?”
“If it continues like this, we’d better go home in an hour or so,” I said. “Maybe it was a mistake to sign on a Thursday.”
Mum closed her eyes, hummed meditatively, and started waving her hands around as if drawing shapes in the air.
“What’re you bloody doing?” I asked, worried.
“The atmosphere is all wrong. I’m changing the energy.”
As if Mum had conjured them up, three young lads approached. Fans of Prison Break, they questioned me for ten minutes, attracting others to the display.
Although footfall was low, interest was relentless for the next few hours. No more negative reactions. We sold out, all 41 copies, and left early.
On the drive home, I said, “Do you really think we’ll set a new record on Saturday if footfall is low like today?”
“It’s Thursday. The Trafford Centre is always very busy on a Saturday.”
“Yes, we will make it happen!”

                                                                      With Dad in Manchester

On Saturday, we arrived early at the Trafford Centre, assisted by our friend Natalie (to whom I owe a big thank you) who put on a jail outfit. I was happy with the staff for getting a large table ready for us near the front and printing out tonnes of flyers. We quickly set the display up, put posters on the shop windows and started pitching the book.
“We sold fifteen in the first hour,” I said to Mum. “But we need to increase that to get over a hundred.”
The new manager introduced himself.
I asked him, “Do you mind if we set up a satellite display of books where people queue? It’s worked well for us in the past because they pick the book up while they’re waiting to pay.”
He gave the go ahead, and it started working right away.
The shoppers increased every hour. The three of us couldn’t keep up with everyone coming in. Our average kept rising 16 an hour, 17, 19…

I shook hands with the two other authors signing that day in the same store: Penny Avis and Joanna Berry. Friendly, classy and professional, their book Never Mind the Botox: Alex just went on sale. For aficionados of chick lit, it is riding high on Amazon so far and has had great reviews.

A few people stopped by to say that they had read Hard Time, and enjoyed it. As usual, they demanded that I get the next book out soon.
A young woman approached, “My mum’s read your book, and she keeps telling everyone about you!”
“Thanks for stopping by to tell me that,” I said, smiling.
“Can I get a photo for her?”
“Yeah. Sure.”
After the photo, I said, “Why don’t you get her on the phone, and I’ll say hello?”
She did. We had a chat until the next wave of shoppers surrounded the table.

Even without the help of the mechanical cockroach – I forgot to bring it – we broke the record ahead of schedule. I announced it was time to pack up, took a box to the car, and returned.
“I sold three more copies while you were gone!” Mum said, excitedly. “We’re at one-hundred and three now!”
“Great. We can all go home now.”
Natalie and I packed up the last of the display, and started to leave. But Mum dashed off, her eyes wide, frenzied as if possessed. She ran around slapping flyers on everyone in sight, commanding the attention of dozens of people. “Author signing his book today! We’re leaving now! You need to buy it now if you want a good Father’s Day gift! If you like the Shawshank Redemption, you’ll love this!”
So many people flocked to the bare table, I had to unpack my pen, cockroach stamps and business cards to resume signing. Infected by Mum’s enthusiasm, half of them didn’t even know what they were buying and I had to keep explaining my story.
Twenty minutes later, Natalie and I urged Mum to leave.
Mum shrugged us off, and yelled, “We’re leaving now! We’ve only got so many copies left! You’ll have to make up your mind quick!”
The subsequent surge of shoppers rocketed the total up to 122 copies, smashing the record set in Wigan. The manager congratulated us, and said he’d never seen anything like it.

The book-selling frenzy took its toll on Mum. Attempting to buy Dad a bottle of wine on the way home, she almost collapsed in the shop. She stumbled out, fell onto her seat, and tried to stabilise herself with breathing techniques. I gave her some water, and went into the shop to complete the purchase.

Our effort did not go unrecognised by my publisher either. Just received this:

Hi Shaun,

Just dropping you a quick line to thank you for all your hard work with book signings. We've just found out that you sold 122 copies of Hard Time at Waterstone's Trafford Centre, which was our most successful pre-Father's Day signing. Every one here at Mainstream are extremely impressed with how all your events have been going, and we'd like to give you a very big thank you.

Click here for the previous signing blog.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, I am being interviewed on the Meria Heller Show from 7 to 8pm in England. 11am US Pacific time.

Shaun Attwood 


Anonymous said...

Shaun, that's amazing! Well done! I can just imagine your Mum changing the energy too...love her! x Roll on Woking and Guildford!


Anonymous said...

Incredible! - your mum's a phenomenon, your dad's a saint, and as the combination of both, you're pretty damn impressive too!! :-) Gab xx

Anonymous said...

Great stuff Shaun, many congrats to you and what a fabulous pic of you and your Dad. Give my best to him & Mum

Lorraine xx

Rosa said...

Your mum is awesome! I wish I could hire her to get some energy changed in my life. :)

Can't wait for the next book! Hope it's soon.

Anonymous said...

Shaun, it was so good to meet you! And ive started reading your book, its great

Xx loo

Jon said...

Thanks, everyone! I've passed that on, Lorraine.

Jon said...

Please keep me posted on what you think of the book, Loo.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad I could help. I must say I was knackered when I got home but didn't have time to rest before going out to the birthday party!!!!!!! I was very good and didn't have alot to drink and didn't get home too late, but that was of no solice to me the next morning when I had to get up for work!!!!!! It was mega busy in the pub for fathers day, I was taking food out and serving drinks on auto pilot. I must have looked like a zombie as all the regulars were asking me why I looked to tired, when I told them I'd been helping a friend out at his book signing the day before they all wanted to hear what the book was about. As soon as I started telling them they wanted to know more, I couldn't really stand around chatting while it was so busy so I've told them all to buy it off amazon!!!!!lol. I think you should give me a few copies to sell or even some of your cards coz everyone I tell about it asks where they can buy it from, but I'm sure most of them forget by the time they get home. Once again I'm glad I could help, you know who to call next time you need a hand. I'm really pleased it all went so well for you and hope all your signing in the future go as well as this one did. See you soon, take care mate.

Natalie XXX

Jon said...

We couldn't have smashed the record without you, Natalie! Thanks so much!

Sue O. (aka Joannie, SS) said...

Do you mind if I borrow mum for my first vendor show next weekend? That is the kind of salesman(woman)ship I need to have...well, I have Becky! Congratulations on another record day of sales!! sue

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