Types of Book Shoppers at Signing Events

While my public events have been limited since the pandemic began, I have done enough signing events to notice certain patterns in the types of book shoppers I meet. These patterns held up at Comic Logic Lot Con 2022, which was a great time despite the weekend heat wave!

Ironically, this mini-con was held in July last year and was moved to May in hopes of cooler weather. Mother Nature had other plans and it was sweltering! Still, it was a good time and staff kept everyone hydrated and happy.

I truly enjoy meeting people at these events! It’s fun to see friends in the community and catch-up with longtime readers. I’m delighted to meet readers who have already discovered my writing. And, of course, it’s exciting to introduce myself to people who are new to my books.

I meet all types of book shoppers at signing events!
Comic Logic Lot Con 2022

Beyond these broad groups, the types of book shoppers I met at this event amusingly fit the patterns I’ve noticed at previous signings. With love, here’s an attempt at sharing my observations. Do any of these types sound like you?

Local Book Lovers

Lucky for me, most of the people I meet fall into this category. They love to read and many of them read a LOT. They’re excited to read a book by a local author. Some quietly listen to my spiel and know exactly which book(s) they want to read. Some have questions and are torn between which book to try first. In that case, I remind them they can start with one and buy more another time (I’m not one for a hard sell!).

Occasionally, bookworms ask me to simply sign their without a personalized inscription because they may pass them on to another reader when they’re done. Which I do not mind at all! I want my writing to get out to a wider audience. Although, it’s super helpful to post a good review on Amazon, Goodreads, etc. so others are encouraged to buy!

Friends of Book Lovers

Books make great gifts. At every event, I meet at least one person shopping for a friend or family member. Usually it’s a gift for mom, and I do my best to suggest the right book. Sometimes, after listening to my book descriptions, they choose a gift for their friend/relative and pick up a book for themselves, too. In my book, that’s a win all around!

At this recent Lot Con, one of my shoppers picked up a second copy of Audrey and Esther Geekify Greenville for a relative named Audrey who says she rarely finds anything with her name on it. I hope that Audrey enjoys her gift!

Indie Book Collectors

These supporters of the arts may or may not read a lot of books. Without a doubt, there can be crossover between Local Book Lovers and Indie Book Collectors. However, some collectors are clear about the fact that they may never get around to reading my books. They simply love to support local authors and want their books to have a place on their bookshelves. This information can come as a sheepish admission or a self-aware declaration. Either way, it’s fine by me!

Certainly, I want people to enjoy reading my books. But if it takes months or years for that to happen, or if they simply keep the books to show others, I absolutely appreciate the support! It’s super hard for an indie author to expand their audience, so telling friends about the books on your to-read list is very helpful.

Aspiring Writers

I’ve fairly certain I’ve met at least one aspiring writer at every signing event. If not, I’ve met the friend or parent of an aspiring writer who wants to tell me about them. I like meeting aspiring writers. Most often, they’re shy about sharing their dreams of writing professionally. Sometimes, a friend or parent is the one to bring it up in front of them. If they’re alone, they may chat for a while, working their way up to sharing. Of course, there are also those who jump right in and tell me all about their work and how successful they are sure to be. Though, that’s been a rare experience for me.

Whatever the case, I don’t offer advice unless I’m asked for it. Instead, I like to hear what these writers are working on and encourage them to stick with it. While I love writing, I also recognize that it is hard work! Writers can always use encouragement, since there will be plenty of people ready to knock them down.

Audiobook Enthusiasts

Audiobooks are super convenient for a lot of book lovers. Some love to listen on their commute or while doing housework. Others need them to give their tired eyes a break. Unfortunately, they aren’t super convenient for an indie author to produce. The DIY approach–recording and producing yourself with minimal outside help–is hugely time consuming and takes a complex set of skills. Hiring a narrator and producer can be pricey and complicated.

Still, audiobooks for my novels are in the works, and it’s nice that I can point audiobook lovers to my Freely Written podcast until I get it all sorted out.

Charming Performers

The “charm” of these performers can range from “a fun break from me doing all the talking” to “please buy a book in exchange for being your captive audience.” Fortunately, this type of book shopper is on the rare side for me. Though there’s usually at least one at every event.

Typically, I’m cool with the dad jokes and punny quips. It really can be nice to have some strong engagement after hours of repeating my book pitches to polite listeners. Sometimes, it even draws other shoppers over and can start some fun conversations. The key is a balance in their outgoing nature with respect for my goal of selling books.

It’s not so fun when I’m asked for a book description only to have every sentence interrupted with a vaguely related comment. If you want to know what my books are about, maybe let me talk instead of jumping in to make off-topic jokes or inapt comparisons to other books or movies. At the very least, buy a book after laughing about how difficult you are.

Very Serious Shoppers

Subtle differences mark a Very Serious Shopper from a Local Book Lover. As you may guess, their serious demeanor plays a part. There’s also a reserved intensity in the way they listen to my book pitches. Either they want me to work for the sale or they have very particular tastes in books. It’s hard to read the intentions of a Very Serious Shopper. They may be sizing me up in some way. Quietly or more directly.

Sometimes they ask pointed questions about my writing process or any affiliation with local writing groups. Sometimes they closely inspect my books, commenting on details like the fonts and margins. More often, they nod thoughtfully, take my card, and say they’ll think about it. When they buy a book, it feels like I’ve passed some undefined test. When they don’t, I shrug it off, knowing reading is subjective and my books will never be everyone’s cup of tea.

Since Very Serious Shoppers are hard to read, I like to assume they are very nice people who are simply more reserved at these kinds of events. You don’t have to be a bubbly book buyer to be a good person or an avid book reader.

What do you think? Do you recognize yourself or any of your friends in these groups? I like to think I fall in the Local Book Lovers group, but I suspect I may slip into Very Serious Shopper mode, especially if I’ve been at an event for a long time and am running low on social energy.

Whatever type of book shopper you might be, I hope we get to meet at a future event!

5 1 vote
Article Rating
Notify of
1 Comment
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
1 year ago

Yes, I met every one of these people this last weekend, too! I also observed that half of my shoppers wanted me to pitch them, but the other half really wanted a comfortable, non-sales-agressive space to quietly read the back covers. This one group of kids stood in front of my table while their chosen leader (I’m guessing) beautifully read one and then another of my book’s back page blurbs out loud. It was a priceless experience to see her reaction as she read my blurb. I could see when she was hooked or when my sentence was too wordy. I actually asked her to read a few more, and I took mental notes on what worked and what didn’t! 🙂

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x