An author horror story: book signings from heck

I haven’t done many book signing events personally, but those I have seem to have been a combination of embarassing, boring and, well, much ado about nothing, as it were. However, I’m glad to say that I have never experienced anything like this tale as related by an anonymous fiction author via email…

I usually stay silent on the subject of chains (some of my best
friends work
in them) but what happened to me this week takes the cake.

I had a
scheduled at CHAIN (I’ll never tell which one), and when I got there,
I went
up to the guy at the info desk to see where he wanted me to station

Answer from guy at info desk, “Huh? What do you mean, you have a
Nobody told me there was a signing.” I told him who I was (not Stephen
and that the signing for my book had been set up six weeks earlier. He
said, “I never heard about it. I’ll call the manager.”

While waiting
for the manager, I wandered over to the mystery section and noticed my
books were not there. I began to sweat.

Then manager of CHAIN came
up – he looked about 15, by the way – and said “Who are you?” I
introduced myself and went through my little song and dance again. He
said, “What signing?” I did more song and dance, explaining that I had
signings at ALL their CHAINs in the city.

He finally broke down and
looked me up on the computer. Lo, there the signing notices were –
including that night’s signing at his own store. “Guess I didn’t read
the note from Corporate” he said, and added, “Maybe I should get you a
table.” He then got a table, plopped it down in front of me, AND

I chased after him and said, “I need books!” He said (I
swear I’m not making this up) “What books are you talking about?” I
took a deep breath and said, “My book.” I then went through my song
and dance again, and informed him that my book had received some very
nice reviews in New York Times, Publisher’s Weekly, etc. etc., etc.,
and chances were pretty good that he really did have some of them
kicking around somewhere.

I got more of his blank look, then he said,
“Didn’t you bring your own books with you?” Song and dance again, with
a reminder that bookstores usually like to sell their own stock, even
CHAINS. He said, “Well, I’ll go look in the back. Maybe there’s some
back there.”

He was gone for about 15 minutes, while people who had
come in for the signing milled around the empty table. I wound up
signing some post cards, and giving out the address of a store I knew
darned well had my books (and it wasn’t CHAIN, either).

CHAIN manager emerged from the back and said (again, I’m not making
this up), “Yeah, it looks like we had lots of your books but we sold
all of them in one day. So they’re gone. Ha, ha.”

I asked (politely,
believe it or not), “Didn’t you re-order, especially since I had this
signing today?” He looked at me as if my head had just turned into a
jack-o-lantern and said (not making it up, again), “Re-order? Why?”

I’m obviously a saint, because I didn’t rip his tongue out. I just
toddled off into the night.

Today I received an apology from the PR person for the CHAIN, and
they’re setting something up again – plus some more signings at the
other CHAIN stores because the book is selling well, but geez. Is it
my imagination or are some of these places being run by people who
don’t know a book from a refrigerator, don’t read (not even notes from
Corporate), and don’t have any common sense at all?”

Ug. Certainly is one way to ensure that you remain humble as an author, I suppose.

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