Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Horror Story #5: The Queen Returns

Last year's Publicity Terror Tale #1 was by the self-proclaimed "Queen of Bad Booksignings." Alas, she has another horrid saga for this Halloween. We can only hope--as I'm sure she does--that she will soon be pushed aside by a more hapless author. (I know a strong contender for her tiara.)

She writes:
You'd think the Queen of Bad Booksignings would wise up, but every once in awhile, the isolated thunderstorm of terrible promotion attempts appears on the horizon.

Once upon a time, QOBB was invited to participate in a book festival. It was in a great community, and since it included a panel presentation, a reading and booksigning, seemed like it would be a source of positive PR vibes.

Wrong. Upon check-in, it was discovered that the panel presentation was to be held in a far corner of a huge theater, tucked upstairs in the balcony area. Said theater was down the street from the main tent and vendor booths--and signage directing people to the event was sadly lacking. To find out about the panel discussion, festival-goers would have to search the fine print in the program, and those brave souls would then track down the location on the map, trek through throngs, and climb two flights of creaky stairs. Not surprisingly, only about five people found the panel discussion. Every panel speaker had to introduce him/herself because the moderator didn't know a thing about them, or their books.

Every Halloween story includes some scary wind in the willows, and this one is no exception. The readings were held in a tent that was not up to the early spring winds blowing that morning. It rattled the rafters and knocked over empty chairs. Patrons were in danger of getting knocked on their heads when stray poster boards blew off display stands. Fortunately for safety's sake, very few people were there to hear authors read their book selections, as the reading tent had been placed right next to a vendor that had hooked up a very loud boom box blasting music non-stop in order to attract patrons to their spot.

Another shock awaited in the hospitality room, where there were stacks of logo tee-shirts on the table. When QOBB asked if they were for the authors and illustrators, she was informed, “No, those are for workers and special guests...but if you'd like one, they can be purchased for ten dollars each." Unbelievable.

There is always a spooky surprise at the end of every tale of terror--usually involving a bit of carnage. In this case, the surprise was the booksigning component. Instead of having the books available for sale/signing immediately following the author reading in the tent, festival-goers had to search through the festival map to find the bookseller tent, inconveniently located a block away. Author signings were scheduled about one hour after their reading, allowing patrons to forget about getting an autographed book to take home.

At the end of the booksigning slot later in the day, QOBB was instructed not to sign any books for stock...because "we can't return them."* Although bodily harm wasn't done, that one inflicted major bruises to the ego!

Appropriately, the directions to and from the event were not clear, so a twenty-minute detour searching for the highway was part of the day. However, QOBB came home grateful that she escaped the haunted event with the strength to promote books again when the moon is full.

*Not true, I responded to QOBB. She replied, "Yes, that was an eye-roller...there was no point arguing with the woman about the returnability of signed books."


Jaden Nation said...

Ah, now who would this 'contender' for QOBBS be?

- Jaden Nation

Bella Stander said...

I'll never tell! Her identity, like QOBB's, is a secret.

Katharine Weber said...

These stories would be that much more meaningful if the names of the badly-run festivals or otherwise dreadful venues were revealed. Why not? Is this such a dangerous business that careers would be ruined? Why not do a service and warn the rest of us away from the soulsucking venues? Why not shame the shameworthy? You can always shower praise on the new people who do it so well now, if that's the case. I am just not sure I understand all this tiptoeing. Speaking as someone whose horror story had that much more meaning for being by an identified author who wrote a novel with a title, The Music Lesson, which was published by Crown in 1999. The publicist who had never heard of Muriel Spark is long, long gone, and after two books with FSG, I am ecstatically happily back at a Crown imprint -- Harmony/Shaye Areheart.

I simply don't see the harm in being transparent about these things.