All right you spent several months or even years writing your book, now it is published sitting before you is a pile of books with your name on it. Now everyone will be knocking on your door wanting your book because after all it is the best book out there, right? No, now the work of promotion begins.
HOW TO GET A BOOK SIGNING
This is the first question every author wants to know, unless you are a well known name it is unlikely that your publisher will be setting up book signings, so it will be up to you. So draw up a plan and contact your local book stores. For the locally owned book stores contact the owner or manager, for chain stores like Barnes and Noble contact the Community Business Development Manager (CBDM) at your local store. Note for your book to even be considered for a book signing at a chain store it must be available in their system thus it may be wise to work on getting your book on the BN.COM site first. You can go to their website and learn how this is possible. Other possible places for book signings are coffee shops, the local libraries, or possibly your former high school or college.
Approach the store or site in a professional manner, possibly with a telephone call or email to arrange an appointment to discuss a book signing, and be sure to bring a copy of your book along with you so that they may look at it. Be friendly and introduce yourself, give them a short summary of what your book is about and what category it will fit in i.e. fiction, non-fiction murder mystery, romance, self-help etc. Plus explain to them why your book will appeal to readers, maybe it is set in the local area. Also explain to them that you are willing to help promote the event. This is one of the main reasons bookstores have problems with hosting signings; as too many authors feel it is up to just the store to promote. It is mainly your job, if the store helps it just makes it better.
If they agree to host the event you will pick a date and time to do it. It may be that all other time slots will already be filled up and you will have no choice. However if you do have a choice you might want to select a date that might help your type of book. For example having a spooky horror novel signing around Halloween might be a great choice, or you have a Christmas tale it would be better in December than in July. Allow at least a month between the time you arrange for the signing and having the signing, if possible, it will give you time to promote and prepare.
Time does matter, too early in the morning and you will not get as many people coming in as you might later on, however next to closing time for the store is not ideal either. Late morning into early afternoon, or the mid afternoon hours seem to work the best. You don’t want too short of a book signing, nor too long. The perfect time seems to be two to three hours; any longer and you get uncomfortable sitting so long. With the signing set up, now is time to prepare for it.
PROMOTING A BOOK SIGNING
Promote Promote! PROMOTE! Start out if you haven’t already done it by now, by setting up a Facebook page as an author, put down all the details about the event; your name the book title, where the signing is being held and date and time it is being held. A month ahead of the event send out a Press Release to all the local papers, TV and Radio station again making sure you note all the specifics about the event, as contacts; list both you and the store as the contact.
If you haven’t already done it, get business cards printed up. One that has all your contact information, including your website and another about your book, place the cover of the book on the front side, along with a short blurb about your book on the back. Companies like Vistaprint offer these at a low economical price. Choose the glossy finish for ‘about your book’ as it looks more professional. Also keep these with you at all times when you are out and you strike up a conversation about your book you can hand one to the person tell them about your signing. Also give these cards to close family members and friends to give out. On the card be sure to have a link to where you can buy your books; if on Amazon be sure to add their logo to the card.
Have posters (below) made up about the event, give at least two to the event ( book store) that they can put up, other places you might put posters are the library, coffee shops, grocery stores, just ask first. Other things you might want to purchase are banners and a larger poster that you can put details and any reviews you have about your book on. This is all use to draw interest to you which is the key to success at a book signing.
Constantly promote on social media like Facebook. A couple weeks before the event create an event page at FB and invite all your friends to attend. They can click on the event page and show if they are interested or they a going. Also place a notice for the event on your personal page and your author page for the event page. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t get very many confirmed clicks, this just let people know. At this same time send reminders to all those media outlets that you will be here doing a book signing. They may invite you in for an interview or show up at the signing. If you can get an interview it is better than selling a book, as you get more word out. Had this happen before sold only one book but had the local TV news interview me, it was short but the last shot of the segment was a close up of my latest book just that shot caused sales on Amazon to go up.
For the last week before the book signing post about it every day on Facebook especially on your author page which should be public ( meaning all can view it). It is proven that post with images gets more response than just words, so use a program such as Photoshop, or Illustrator to create interesting posts. Be sure to include your book cover and possibly the front of the store, and even directions to how to get there in some of your posts.
Use a interesting FB Post to draw interest.
Display your business card in a holder.
GETTING READY FOR THE DAY
I have seen other blogs from individuals who write it doesn’t matter what you wear, but I disagree you have to look professional and more successful than you are. This does not mean you have to wear designer labels but you do not want to show up in jeans and a t-shirt either, and yes I have seen some authors show up this way. Dress slacks, shirt and a sports coat for a man is great, you don’t have to wear a tie. For a woman a nice skirt and blouse are wonderful. Do not wear too much makeup, and do not wear perfume or aftershave, some people are allergic to these scents and you don’t want them getting ill being around you. That week get a haircut, and get your hair styled, even colored if you like.
Plan what you are going to take with you and put it all in one box if you can. This includes copies of your books, be sure you have enough on hand, for most authors this will be about 25, it is better to come home with books than to run out and have to cut your signing short. Also take your business cards, the cards about your book, plus your poster, and pens to sign the books with. Color depends on you, for me I write murder mysteries and always use red ink. Also you might want to bring a table cloth and any other items that might help draw interest. A bowl offering free candy is always a great thing. If your book is a cookbook you might want to bring a crock to containing one of your recipes along with small disposable bowls or cups to offer samples. If you taking money for your books, be sure to bring change.
Now try to get a good night’s sleep, and don’t think about the event. Yes you will be nervous, and it is okay, most of us get nervous no matter how many times we do this. Once you get there and set up the feeling usually goes away.
A large poster on a stand can help draw people in.
Arrive at the place at least 30 minutes before the event is to start. Sometimes you will find the event place already has the table set up with books and a table cloth, you can use theirs or use your own. Just be sure it fits your style, a flowery print cloth doesn’t fit if you are promoting a murder mystery especially if you are a man. With the table cloth on, place your business cards and the cards about your books in holders. Place your book on a stand so that the cover is easily visible. Next to the stand place copies of your book, place at least six to ten copies to be available, if the books are shrink wrapped, remove the wrapping. Place any other items you brought also on the table also including your pens.
Have someone take a photo of you and post it to social media again reminding everyone that you are here, and you would like to see them, tell them they don’t have to buy a book just come by to visit.
Events at bookstores, usually take a percentage of your sales (35-50%) and they will handle the sales, if you are handling sales it is wise to bring someone along that can do that for you. Note in this day and age more and more people are using credit cards to pay so you might want to sign up for a service like Square which allows you to do this. You don’t want to turn down a sale because you are not able to do that. Person checks can be an issue if you do not know the person, and never take a personal check that only has three digits on it.
Use a stand to display your book
HERE COMES A CUSTOMER
Although most writers are introverts and can be shy, now is the time that you can not be shy. Most customers are not going to approach you and ask what your book is about; you have to be aggressive yet still be friendly. As they walk in the door or toward you, greet them with a smile and ask if they like your genre of book. For me it is “Do you like murder mysteries?” If they say yes you reel them in with more. “How about one that is full of lies, government corruption, and of course… murder.”
Now if they don’t like your style offer them a piece of candy and wish them a great day and give them a card about your book that they can give to their friends who do like your subject. Some will look at your book but just can’t make themselves buy it, if your book is available as an e-book let them know this, and sign one of your cards and give it to them. Remember it isn’t just about selling books, it about getting the word out about your book. Also be willing to pose for any photos that someone might want. Also be willing to tease them a bit, by telling them a little bit about the next book that you are writing, for those that are series books this is especially good.
Someone buys your book. Oh happy day, you want to get up and dance but that will have to wait till you get home. Again be friendly and ask ‘Who is this for?” When they give you the name always ask how to spell it. Even simple names like Karen, can be spelled many different ways so always ask. What you write is up to you, and it can be just your name or a simple phrase that you can tie in with your books. Since my books have the word “Blood” in the title, I sign with ‘The greatest story is written in blood’. This has double meanings and can cause others to ask about it, thus giving you more reaction with the reader.
Even if the event is supposed to be over and you just had a customer come in and is looking around be willing to stay an extra 15 minutes, you never know when they may come back and get your book. I had that happen to me, a customer came in looked at the books went back and picked out more and on the way to pay for them took my books also. Hey fifteen minutes is not that big of a deal.
THE DAY ENDS
Now it is time to pack it up, if you had made deal with a bookstore and they have been collecting the money, you need to get paid. The book store will give cash or a check. Now is time to celebrate! The big thing have you sold enough to have a chicken nuggets or steak? What determines a successful book signing? That is up to you. Did you sell a hundred books, five or just one or was it none- yes I have this happen before. However, the only way it can be unsuccessful is that you didn’t have fun.
Having fun with friend and romance author Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy at a joint book signing.