“Please Don’t Bend the Cover! Oh, and Control Your Children!” by Yolonda Tonette Sanders
Author Yolonda Tonette Sanders, whose thrilling Shadow of Death is out now, on the perils of book signings…
One of the things that gets under my skin is when I’m at an event and people bend the cover while they browse through a book, deciding if they want to purchase it or not. I understand wanting to flip through a book. We all do that. What I’m referring to are those people who fold the cover back to the point that it has a permanent dent in it when they are finished. It wouldn’t be so bad if they bought that particular book. However, usually what happens is, after they finish distorting it from its original shape, they put the book down and choose a “fresh” one to purchase. Really?!? I want so badly to say, “Sir/Ma’am, that book was fresh before you mutilated it.” Instead, I smile and thank the individual for supporting me all while hoping my irritation doesn’t show on my face.
My second pet peeve at signings is when parents do not prevent their children from putting their sticky fingers all over the books or knocking over the display. In the parents’ defense, it’s often because they are bending, I mean, flipping through a book to get a feel for its contents. That leaves little Jack or Jill bored for the time-being and he/she, with a lollipop in one hand, decides that it will be a cool idea to re-arrange my display of books. Um, I love children. I promise. I believe they are a blessing and the most precious beings on earth. Sometimes they don’t always act in a way that confirms my deep, intrinsic belief that they are a gift from God. I’m old school in the sense that I will put someone else’s child in check. When my children were younger, it didn’t bother me if someone corrected them when they were wrong. It normally didn’t happen in my presence because I would be the first to speak up. Silence implies consent. Thus, if a parent says nothing while his/her child finds joy in putting sticky fingers all over the covers of my books, this becomes an acceptable behavior to that child until I say something.
Talk about a sticky situation! On one hand, I don’t want to risk offending the parent to the point that he/she will abandon the idea of purchasing one or more of my books and then possibly write a negative post about me on Facebook. On the other, I know that the parent isn’t going to buy all the books that his/her little darling has fondled. Thus, if I don’t say something, I’m stuck with books that no one will want to buy because they have lost their aesthetic appeal. It’s bad enough that I’ll be left with a deformed copy after the parent gets finished twisting the one he/she has in hand. Why should I be left with an entire table full of unsellable copies?
Thankfully, after many years of such experiences, I have found a solution that is a win-win-win for the parent, child, and me. I keep what I call display copies of my books at the forefront for people to distort in any manner that they wish. I usually have them marked as such or have a sticker on them. When people are ready to purchase, I am actually the one who offers them a “fresh” copy. In terms of the children, I engage them in conversation while mom or dad is looking through my book. Children often like to talk about themselves or show off a new skill or song they’ve learned. I’ve been thoroughly entertained by these young minds. I also try to keep bookmarks on hand or another small item that I can give the child so that he/she gets something out of the deal as well.
So, what’s the moral of my story? When people come to my table at events to browse through my latest book, Shadow of Death, or others, I want it to be a pleasant experience for us all. Parents won’t have to worry about ignoring little Jack or Jill for a few moments. I’ll engage them for you. The little one won’t be bored because I am good at entertaining children and allowing them to entertain me. When the family leaves my table, the joy of gaining a new reader won’t be tainted by the irritation of having a messed up display. Everyone gets something in the end. Parents will have a good book, children will feel like they’ve gained a new friend, and I will have peace of mind . . . and fewer unusable books.
Yolonda Tonette Sanders took a leap of faith by resigning from her job with the State of Ohio to focus more on writing. It was a leap that she has never regretted, as several of her novels have been published, including Soul Matters, Secrets of a Sinner, and In Times of Trouble. All of her books have appeared on Essence’s bestseller list. Currently, Yolonda resides in Columbus, Ohio, and is the loving wife of David, proud mother of Tre and Tia, and joyful caregiver of her mother, Wilene. Follow her on Facebook www.facebook.com/yoproductions or on Twitter.
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