Yesterday, for a book signing, I drove 328 miles, spent $40 on gas, and was gone from home for 8 hours. I sold 20 books while I was in the store, at a profit of about $20 to me, which I won’t see for 9 months. And that’s assuming my publisher is still in business and bothers to pay me.
In August, I did a book signing here locally at Borders. They were unable to order my books (another story!), so they bought copies from me. I’m still waiting for the $350 Borders owes me. They could also declare bankruptcy at any time and I may never see that money either.
Keep in mind that I live in Oregon, which is not densely populated. To sign anyplace but the Borders here in Eugene, I have to get on the road and drive for a while. For the record, the Medford B&N (where I signed yesterday) invited me because I had a signing there last year and they considered it a success. I agreed to go again because the manager is the nicest bookstore person I’ve ever met.
The sad part of this is that I love meeting readers (and bookstore owners) and will miss those encounters. I will continue to attend reader conferences when I can and visit local book discussion groups, but I’m done with book signings. I simply can’t afford them.