That Awkward Silence

The authors reading this know what I’m talking about. We’ve all been there. You’re sitting at the table in a bookstore or at a convention, your books arrayed before you, when a potential reader approaches. She doesn’t make eye contact, but picks up a book to examine. She looks over the front cover, turns it over and reads the back copy, then skims the first page. All this without acknowledging your existence. What do you do? Do you break the silence and try to engage her in conversation, or do you let her continue in silence, maybe walking away without dipping into her wallet? If you force the conversation, how do you do it? What have the results been?

For the readers, what do you want? Do you want the author to begin a conversation when you approach the table? Do you just want to be left alone to look things over?

11 responses to “That Awkward Silence”

  1. If I, as a reader, approached a table where an author was signing, I would love it if they started a conversation.
    I think that a lead-off question as to the type of fiction a reader liked and usually read could lead into a wonderful opportunity to convince the reader they wanted to read the book in question. (That, of course, is assuming that the reader has picked up the book and read the back because they read that genre in the first place.)

    1. Hmm. Something like, “Can you imagine what it’d be like to screw a werewolf? Do you know what a dogknot is?” hehe

  2. You should jump up and down, squealing: “I writed that! I writed that!!”
    Guaranteed sale right there.

    1. I’m gonna have to try that!

  3. LOL! I usually smile, make eye contact and give a cheerful little “Hi there!” I worked too long in retail. LOL!
    If they look annoyed because you are not a statue and have ruined their quiet perusing atmosphere, you know to stop there. Most will look up and at least say hi and acknowledge you, some will talk more.
    I don’t suggest pulling a Tom Savini and ignoring or being outwardly annoyed at the person on the other side of the table for existing. 😉

  4. I like to talk to the author–unless it’s that fat old guy with the white hair and beard who rights all those Lovecraftian private eye stories… you know, Mr. “I won’t let you go or stop talking until you buy at least THREE of my books!’ He got me, Tamar, and a friend. Fucker!

    1. Oh yeah. Or the WWII veteran who wrote his memoirs of the war, self-published it, and wants to relate the tale to you because you got within earshot of his table. “Here’s 20 bucks. Gimme a book and let me go guilt-free!”

  5. “Hey, do you like werewolf stories?
    Oh, wait – you’re not related to the Cross family, are you?”

    1. Ha! I love it.
      I haven’t heard any more from them, by the way. Perhaps they talked to a lawyer and were told they had no case. A good controversy might have been nice … especially if Scrybe ever gets around to releasing the new edition so people can buy the book again.

  6. I’ve been telling people I need to sell books so I can buy a kidney. It works, but now I have five kidneys because I felt guilty about it.

    1. Need some fava beans?

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