Saturday, March 23, 2013
Here's the lesson I learned from meeting and greeting folks at O'Hare's Bar & Grill in Bay City on St. Patrick's Day. Only do a book signing in a rowdy bar if you can get there early and connect with folks BEFORE they get bombed.
As you may recall, I was invited to O'Hare's by Pete, the owner, because his watering hole is the "hangout" for the main cast of characters in my book. Pete was so tickled by this, he set up a display of my books in his place and has been selling them for me.
And the reason it's my gang's hangout is because that's where my friends and I used to party several years ago when I was running the newsroom at the local newspaper. We would stop into O'Hare's at least two or three times a week. Lots of good people, great fun.
So, naturally I had to make O'Hare's a featured place in my novel, "A Formula for Murder."
But doing a book signing at the place is another animal all together - especially on a big-drinking holiday like St. Pat's Day.
I arrived at the pub about 11 a.m. because I wanted to beat the traffic jam around Center Avenue on the East Side of Bay City. Center is the main thoroughfare for the famous, or infamous, St. Pat's Day Parade in Bay City. The East Side and Center also are part of the big St. Pat's Day Road Race, which I believe is still growing and getting bigger and more fun every year.
The first couple of hours were really good. Lots of folks stopped by O'Hare's for a Reuben, corned beef and cabbage, the pub's famous Irish Stew, and a sip or two of green beer. I had no problem chatting with each of them and making my pitch.
People were very friendly and very receptive. Many had heard about my novel or the presentations that I have been making around town. Bang, bang, bang. One after another, I sold a bunch of books right off the bat.
But then the place got crowded. And loud. Soon, people were bumping into one another, spilling beer all over the place, and getting loose and sloppy. The room noise was so loud, you couldn't speak to anyone without shouting.
I noticed revelers eyeing my book-signing table with increasing envy. Gee, I liked my spot in the pub, but I wasn't sure it was worth defending in an old-fashioned Irish fist fight.
I suddenly had the feeling that if I had to make a quick dash to the men's room, I'd return and find my display and books scattered about the floor and under foot. Or worse yet, seeing my stuff kicked out into the street. Sure, I've been kicked into the gutter before, but I sure didn't want to see my book there.
Obviously, this was not a good situation in which to make pitches about a murder mystery. I knew it was time to go. I thanked Pete, who was delighted that I sold as many books as I did, and packed up my stuff. In 10 minutes, I was pulling out and party freaks were diving to grab my vacated table.
Everything considered, it turned out just fine. It will probably be awhile before I try signing books in a bar again, but I figure it's always a good day when ever I meet knew people, chat with them about my book, and make a few sales.
Onward and Upward!