10 Ways to Avoid Buying That Author’s Book

We’ve all been to those events, you know the ones, where local authors are set up pedaling their wares. It can be kind of uncomfortable for the average won’t-be-book-buyer. Especially when said author is located in a spot that you have to pass on your way to where you’re going. I mean, there they are sitting out in front of the bookstore in the mall, or at some festival or fair or market that has absolutely nothing to do with books. What the heck’s all that about anyway, right? What nerve, what gall. It’ kind of like being ambushed if I’m being perfectly honest. You know. You’ve felt it. It’s not like you’re expecting someone to be selling books, least of all the author of those very books.

Well, fear no more. Over the past five years of attending book signing and some of those a fore-mentioned “other events” I’ve learned a thing or two when it comes to not buying that author’s book. Actually, it’s not all that complicated. You just have to know the right thing to say and the proper way to carry yourself. Keep your wits about you and above all don’t panic. You’ll survive. I promise.

So, for all of you won’t- be-book-buyers these next 10 excuses are for you.

1. Listen to that little voice in your head. You know, the one that says, “Tell her you don’t read.” Who can argue with that? If you don’t read, you don’t read. Case closed. Keep on a walking, my friend, you’re in the clear, maybe even click your heels as you’re walking away. You’re so cool– you, you , person who just does not read.

2. Stop at her table for a few moments. Gently run you hand over the books. Appear interested, but not too, too interested. Slip in a comment such as, “One day I’ll have to invest.” The author will be giddy thinking that you’re talking about actually buying one of her books when in reality you’re talking about opening up an RRSP. She’ll never know the difference.

3. Ask her if the book in the bookstores. When she says yes, tell her that you’ll probably pick one up there some time in the future. She’ll love you for it, and by throwing that word, “probably” in there you’re getting off without a true commitment. Clever.

4. Ask for a full synopsis of the books on her table. Trust me, authors love that part. Leaf through the books one by one. Read a few passages, silently. Ask what age group it’s for. If she says young adult simply mention that your grandchildren are too young. If she says middle grade just say the opposite. She can’t argue the age-appropriateness of her books, right?

5. Remember, appearing interested will always endear that author to you. She’ll probably believe whatever you have to say. Ask if her books are fiction or non-fiction. If she says fiction, you know what you have to do. Sound rather disappointed and say, “Gee, I only read non-fiction.” If she writes non-fiction, you get the picture, tell her you only read fiction. Now if she happens to write both fiction and non-fiction you need a back-up excuse because if you don’t come up with something quickly you may just end up having to make a purchase. But have no fear, when all else fails here’s a handy, dandy excuse that will always work in a pinch…..

6. “I don’t have any cash on me or else I’d get one.” Remember, adding that little, “or else I’d get one,” will show her you’re serious. Can’t argue the no money excuse.

7. Another dandy excuse that often works well is this: Stop at her table and pretend you’ve already read her books. Her smile will be like a ray of sunshine, especially when you mention how much you enjoyed them. But for God’s sake don’t overdo it. She may just ask you what your favourite part is and the jig will be up. You’ll need make a quick exit. Fake chest pain if you must, but scram tout suite.

8. Stop at her table and introduce yourself. Tell her you have a book coming out next week. She won’t know the difference. Authors love other authors. Chances are she’ll congratulate the hell out of you because all authors know just how difficult it is to find a publisher after that book is written. And you know what, after all that congratulating is over, she won’t even care about selling her book. She’ll be just itching to buy yours. Now that’s a plan!

9. Promise to come back a little later. Find out how long she’ll be there to make sure you don’t happen to stumble on through before she’s done for the day. I mean, she’ll never see you again, right?

10. Remember, you can always distract her by talking about the weather. Weather talk always works no matter where you go. You don’t have to be weather-lady Cindy Day to appreciate the local Maritime weather. Canadians can talk forever about the weather. We’ve had plenty of practice. Throw in a, “I heard we’re going to have an early winter,” and you could keep her talking forever.  Book talk will always take a back seat to weather talk. Trust me. I’ve fallen for that one, myself, a time or two.

So there you have it, all the excuses you should ever need to avoid buying that author’s book. One final little tip I’ll leave you all with. If words happen to fail you, hey, we can’t all be wordsmiths, here’s something that will always get you out of buying that author’s book. Resist making eye contact. Keep trucking right on by that author’s table. It’s not like she’s going to jump out and stop you from passing. It’s simple, just pretend she’s not there. Make her feel invisible and she’ll probably believe she is. So long as you don’t slow your gait, you’re in for smooth sailing but, above all, remember not to look. Not even a sideways glance. If she detects even the slightest bit of acknowledgement on your part she’ll be smiling her face off to try and get your attention. She might even say hello. If you get that friendly hello all your hard work could go down the drain. Just saying.

So there you have it. 10, or actually 11, ways to avoid buying that author’s book.

Now it’s your turn. Can you think of any other ways to avoid buying that author’s book? I’d love it if you’d share some of your experiences. Or just come up with some inventive things to be silly like I did.

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20 Comments

  1. Thanks for the view from the other side of the table, Laura.

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    • I giggled through writing this, Patti. While these days I’m the author, I wasn’t always. A friend of mine recently discussed with me “avoid making eye contact” that she said she often does when ticket -sellers are nearby. 😉

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  2. pick a copy of the book and carry it around with you as if you’re deciding whether to buy it, that’s pretty much how I make most book buying decisions. when I’m not sure I want to buy, I just carry it around the store and read from it now and then.

    anyway, who says you have to buy the book or any book when you can go to your local library for it, assuming there’s a copy.

    I usually prefer to get the paperback version anyway, so there’s no reason to buy the first hardcover release unless I really, really like the author.

    hope you have a great day.

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    • Oh, Lissa, that’s a great tip. Love it! 😉

      And you’re right, people shouldn’t feel badly for not purchasing an author’s book. I find myself only buying if it’s a book I’m interested in or if I want to support that particular author. From my perspective I find it nice if people just stop to chat. It can be a very boring time if no one stops to say even say hi. We don’t expect every single person to buy a book, nor should people feel obligated. And being a library user, myself, I see nothing wrong with borrowing books, and everyone should keep in mind that libraries count for quite a few sales anyway.

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  3. I feel sorry for authors who need to put up with such energy sapping antics. Awful to build up hopes of a sale just to pass the time. ~(+_+)~~

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    • I’ve been on both sides of the table, Tess. since my first book came out I’m much more aware of the author sitting there all alone. I also try to encourage people, that even if they can’t buy a book, that it’s nice to have someone stop by and chat. At one on my signings a gentleman looked my book all over, we talked a bit, and he told me he didn’t read fiction and probably wouldn’t buy the book. I appreciated his honesty and thanked him for stopping by my table. A while later he came back with a hot chocolate for me. 🙂 I had no complaints. I thought that was very nice.

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      • A wonderful man. Warms the cockles of my heart to read such a positive experience. >3

        I typed this comment three times. What the heck is going on? It kept disappearing. Grr.

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        • The truly wonderful thing about this unexpected gift was he set the hot chocolate on the table beside me and when I turned back to see who ad done it, he looked my way quickly and smiled. We both knew we’d never see each other again but his gesture was something I’ll always remember. There are some truly thoughtful people in the world. We really don’t need to make that sale, but each one of us has the opportunity to touch the life of another person. 😀

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        • Awesome how someone can touch you with such a small but thoughtful gesture. ❤

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  4. Charmaine

     /  September 10, 2014

    Comment on how good the first book is, and say, enthusiastically, “I sure hope the Bookmobile will be supporting your efforts, I’ll be first in line to take it home for a read!” 🙂

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  5. Too funny! I’m amazed that you actually thought of ten strategies, especially since you’re such an avid book buyer yourself! I’m the worst at selling my own books and avoid face-to-face selling most of the time. I don’t know too many writers who are more extrovert than introvert, which is why the selling part is so tough I suppose. Thanks for the giggle!

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    • Well, some of those exact strategies have been used by others to avoid my table, Jan. 😉 I do like meeting and chatting with others, but the business part is always more challenging for me. Ah..but we do what we must when our book is involved, right?

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  6. These are too funny and too true. I usually give everyone who stops by a bookmark so they feel they got something for stopping by. I agree, we just like to chat with people, we don’t expect everyone to buy a book. At one book store I ended up selling another book (not mine) but at least the store got a sale!

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    • I think the very worst thing is to sit there without anyone stopping to talk or say hi. So, yes, being acknowledged is always a good thing, feeling invisible not so much. 😦

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  7. David

     /  September 13, 2014

    The most I’ve said is, “Hi” or “how are you doing” and keep on walking. And, if the bookstore is in the mall, make sure you walk over to the other side way beforehand. That assures no niceties would have to be exchanged. But, if you can’t get to the other side of the mall, act distracted.

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    • Good one, David! The distracted excuse works well for all sorts of uncomfortable situations. 😉 I think we’ve probably all used that one a time or two.

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  8. LOL I’m can’t type because I’m still laughing. OMG I have to ask. Was that you at my last booking signing? Head down? Arms swinging widely as you sped past me and my books! LOL

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  9. I prefer to talk the truth, you can feel it anyway and people are going to buy your book who it’s meant for… no worries… Barbara

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    • I can honestly say that having someone stop by your table and chat is a nice thing and really all that is required when an author is set up. There’s nothing worse than having people ignore you. I’ve met some really interesting people at book signings and some even ended up being friends. 🙂 How cool is that!

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