I learned some lessons when my first book was published. One of them is that a lot of people seem to prefer, if it's at all possible, a book that is signed by the author.
After Moonlight Sketches came out, I received countless emails and Facebook comments from people wondering where they could buy the book and, furthermore, where and how they could get it signed.
Buying is easy. Finton Moon, which officially releases next Tuesday, will be available at most Coles, Chapters, and Indigo stores throughout Canada. If your local bookstore doesn't carry it, you can just order it at the checkout. It will also be available from Amazon.ca (I'm not sure about Amazon.uk or Amazon.com in the US, but they have my books listed, so I'm assuming they'll be able to get it for you and deliver it). There are other outlets as well. Downhome stores (and their outlets) throughout Atlantic Canada will have it. That includes some airports, drugstores, and the occasional independent retail space. Moonlight Sketches was (and is) available in every province of Canada, and I assume the same will be true of Finton Moon.
For those who don't live in St. John's, however (the hub of the literary world--and I'm only partially joking), one of the easiest, safest, and quickest routes is by ordering directly from my publisher. The publisher's assistant, Pamela, tells me that it takes only 1-2 days to process and order and ship it out to whoever orders it. How long it takes after that depends on the mail system both in Canada and wherever you are. Could be rural Newfoundland, Atlantic Canada, Nunavut, or another country altogether. They've even been known to ship books to the U.S. as well as Europe and as far away as Australia. The costs will vary of course, as it often costs substantially more to ship to foreign countries or even to other provinces.
And then comes the issue of signing.
Sometimes, as a writer, I'm lucky enough to be able to visit cities, towns and bookstores outside of St. John's. Last year, I was able to go to Eastport and Halifax, for example. As much as I would love to travel more and promote my books, it's not economically feasible for me to travel extensively because it can get quite expensive both for me and my publisher. Sometimes, I might get invited to speak at a book fair or to do a special talk, and the costs will be covered by the host organization. But that still leaves quite a few people--often friends, relatives, acquaintances and innocent bystanders--who simply want a book and they want it signed.
Again, a lot of people wanted to know how they could get it signed; it's not really a monumental task. Some people write and say, "I'll be in the city, so can we meet somewhere so I get my book signed?" The fact is--and I don't mean to sound cold about it--I simply don't have time to meet everyone and sign their books personally. I wish I could. But I have an extremely busy life and only the closest of friends and family can really seriously ask this of me and have a reasonable expectation that I will be able to do it.
Others want me to go buy them a book and sign it and mail it to them. That's not only time-consuming but very costly. Even if you offer to pay me for it, there are challenges involved with your request. One is that I just don't have the time to do that (remember: it's not just you, but many other people who ask this favour). The other is that I'm lazy, and going out to buy books, then packaging them up, licking stamps and envelopes, and physically going to the post office as well--the mere thought of such physical labour is dizzying. I might as well have been a courier. Again, you see--it's not just you, but many others. I know I'm not a famous author (although a very kind bank teller recognized me this morning; alas, I didn't get any free banking and/or money from the transaction). But even John Irving's relatives wouldn't dare to email him and ask him to buy a book and mail it to them. I mean, we're writers so that we don't have to actually deal with real life, and that includes licking stamps. Most of the stamps I deal with wait an average of 6 to 8 weeks before they get licked. It takes another 2-3 weeks to get me to address an envelope (I write a lot, and so addressing envelopes is just another, albeit mundane, extension of that activity--more work, in other words), and another week of it sitting on my fridge before I even think to bring it to the post office. I'm not sure if that makes me very inefficient or extremely efficient, since I generally end up doing it all in one trip, ultimately--unless I forgot to buy stamps, which inevitably happens.
So, do us both a favour: if you want your book signed and you're unable to make it to the launch or to a book signing--where I will happily and gratefully sign your purchase--please take advantage of the following offer:
If you pre-order your book by the launch date (for practical purposes, by Monday, June 25 at noon), I will gladly sign it for you. Some generous and intelligent people have already done just that, and I thank them for that, with all my heart. I always appreciate it when someone spends their hard-earned money to buy not just my book, but any book, especially a book of fiction, which to some people is akin to Satanic--or, at the very least, useless--scribblings.
Just order it directly from the publisher: Creative Book Publishing, and I'll gladly make the trip to their office Monday afternoon to sign it and personalize it for you. After that date, I make no guarantees of being able to scribble my name on a page.
Signed, your grateful author, who is not nearly as (and yet is possibly even more) curmudgeonly as (or than) this whole thing makes me sound,