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Friday, June 23rd, 2006 by

NewSouth author John Pritchard, author of the hilarious Junior Ray (which Barnes & Noble.com called a Best of 2005 Sensational Debut) added these inimitable words of wisdom on book signings:

Having been born without any inhibitions at all, I simply pick up the telephone and dial off a call — to information if I don’t know the number of the store — and then, when I get what I imagine to be a shy, pale, unaggressive and bookish person on the phone I speak very, very rapidly and tell them almost everything that has been said or written about the book, dropping important names — NewSouth, Publisher’s Weekly, The Mobile Register, Barnes and Noble — to which my overwhelmed listener often responds with the solid beginnings of an invitation.

My other tactic is the store invasion. I walk in, make an estimate of the terrain, and (1) immediately begin to shuck and jive, brandishing up a copy of Junior Ray, or (2) I tread softly across the carpeted floor and politely ask who the “events” person is. Normally that individual is extremely busy or in a meeting — which can last for days — but, like a determined butterfly fluttering by every so often, just to say Hi, I eventually connect, and things take a turn for the positive.

Sometimes there is no deal, but I have never forgotten what I learned as a Fuller Brush Man, back around 1968: You make a sale, large or small, about every ten doors you knock on, and of course the key to it all is … you have to knock. There are no self-knocking doors.

What I enjoy most about book signings is being the center of attentiion. I love that — even when, upon occasion, I am the only one, other than the owner of the store, in the room. At those times my narcissism is in high gear, and I always remember a singer/songwriter I knew in Nashville who would — and could — play to an empty room. He’d give it all he had, as though the hall were packed. His character was his craft. That was the beat he never missed. And I think, for those who were born in quest of the Grail, that is the way to be.

Junior Ray is available directly from NewSouth Books, at Amazon.com, or from your local book retailer.

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