Monday, July 29, 2013

How to do a Successful Book Signing

Today Siv Ottem's cover art for her debut novel, Secrets of the Ash Tree, is being revealed by Michael Di Gesu, the cover artist. Be sure to visit his site after reading this post!

Book Signings
*Excerpt from How to Publish and Promote Your Book Now!

Upon hearing the words “book signing,” most people think of a bookstore. And in the past, bookstores were great places for authors to meet readers and fans.

The decline of the bookstore and the emergence of e-books has changed that aspect. Fewer stores mean fewer opportunities for signings. Many people have converted to e-books, and while there are ways to autograph e-books, they’re difficult to sell in the store. (Although it’s not impossible, as signings at a Barnes and Noble can involve Nook sales.) The ease of self-publishing means there are more authors, too. Meeting a real live author in person just isn’t a novelty anymore.

However, there are those who still treasure an autographed book. And since fostering relationships is important, personal appearances can still spur sales.

With bookstores on the decline, where else can you do a signing? The possibilities are endless! Depending on the subject matter of your book, consider these venues:

• Gift stores
• Specialty stores
• Coffee shops
• Arts and crafts fairs
• Festivals
• Farmers markets
• Fundraisers
• Political conventions
• Church events
• Libraries
• Trade shows
• Museums
• Restaurants
• Parks
• Neighborhood events
• Gym or YMCA
• School and college events
• Cruise ships

Use your creativity to think of other opportunities.

Consider ways you could turn a signing into an event by doing a reading, giving a talk, conducting a workshop, etc. Your appearance could tie in with a local event or involve other authors.

Publishers and publicists sometimes send authors on tour. Due to the cost, most authors don’t get to enjoy this luxury. Often it is up to you to set up your own appearances.

Here’s a checklist of the proper etiquette for setting up and conducting a book signing:

• Contact the venue a couple months in advance via a letter and/or a phone call. Similar to pitching the media, you should be prepared to explain the benefits of your appearance and what you will do to bring in customers.
• Confirm the date and how they intend to acquire books. Will they order from your wholesaler or publisher, or will you be expected to bring your own books?
• Send a media release out to contacts in the area about your appearance and list it in every free event calendar.
• Send out invitations, either physical or emails, to your personal and business contacts in the area.
• Check for local book clubs and writer groups and invite them as well.
• If applicable, you might even want to contact local schools, colleges, businesses, or organizations.
• Send the store promotional materials several weeks in advance, such as bookmarks and posters.
• Confirm the date the week before the event and make sure the venue has books on hand.
• Arrive early to set up your display table and meet with the staff.
• Be sure your display table is attractive and enticing. Use props, displays, candy, giveaways, a signup sheet, etc.
• Engage those who walk by your table—don’t just sit there!
• Hand out bookmarks to every person you meet.
• Don’t be afraid to roam the store or venue.
• Offer to sign extra books.
• Thank everyone before you leave and send a handwritten thank you card afterward. (You’d be surprised how many fail to do this.)

Even if you didn’t sell a ton of books, if you were a delight to all involved, it is likely you will be asked to return in the future. Often book signings lead to other opportunities. The networking and marketing aspects are just as important as actual book sales.

Any other book signing tips or locations?


Karen Baldwin said...

Great list. Thanks for sharing so much.

H. R. Sinclair said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Southpaw said...

Great list of alternatives.

Stephen Tremp said...

Diane, your book is really amazing. Full of great ideas! I have been selling my book on the sidewalks close to the many beaches, careful to call each city first to see if the allow this and if I need one of their very inexpensive permits.

Cruise ships? I never thought of that. Since we do a couple each year, I'm going to explore that option.

David P. King said...

Now that I'm on the lookout for signing opportunities, this post is giving me lots of ideas. Consider it bookmarked! :)

Michael Di Gesu said...

Thanks for the shout out L. Diane!

GREAT ideas for future book signings! So sad that our bookstores are declining, but these are fantastic alternatives!

You are just a fountain of information...


L. Diane Wolfe said...

Karen, I bet you'll hit that stage.

Stephen, and then you can write off the expense of the cruise - a win-win.

Michael, you are most welcome.

Carol Kilgore said...

Great tips! I have one more. A great way to thank the host is to purchase something from their shop. Or bring flowers, food, or a bottle wine - all depending on the location and venue, of course.

Bish Denham said...

Wonderful ideas. All I need is a book... :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Good tips! I could do a signing at the gym and kill two birds with one stone.

cleemckenzie said...

Great list, Diane. I'd add retirement centers. This is an under-served population that has both time and people they want to gift without inconvenience.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Great tips for signings...and for signing in locations other than bookstores!

M Pax said...

I've been too chicken to set one up.

Jo said...

Never likely to happen to me unless I get hit by a writing thunderbolt one day. However these pointers are very useful to those budding authors out there.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I haven't done a book signing in a while. I have lots of notes from your book should I have another.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Carol, good tip. I usually do end up purchasing something.

Lee, that's a good idea.

Susan, I don't do many anymore, but I do have one this Thursday at one of my favorite venues.

Sheena-kay Graham said...

This was some great tips. Book signings are a great way to meet people and promote your book.

Notes Along the Way with Mary Montague Sikes said...

Wonderful tips, Diane. Bookstores are disappearing, but there are many other options. Thanks!

Mary Montague Sikes

Ella said...

Thank you Diane! YOU are amazing :D

J E Oneil said...

That's an impressively done list :). I hope I can use it someday.

Jai Joshi said...

Great tips, I've done a lot of the locations on this list myself. We have to think outside the box these days.


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Diane .. there's always more opportunity than meets the eye ..

Great ideas and lists you've given us .. marketing is always about the author and the person .. the books follow on ..

Cheers and I have your book here reading and waiting .. Hilary

Michelle Wallace said...

.... and now I need to bookmark this page in my e-copy...
Writer In Transit

LD Masterson said...

I also did an event with a favorite local charity. They hosted and I donated a percent of the purchase price. I donate to this charity anyway so the loss of revenue didn't hurt me.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Mary, there are so many options if we're just creative.

LD, and charities are a great place for signings. Just have to find one that's dear to our hearts.

Karen Lange said...

This is great advice! It really encourages me about the possibilities. For my book, parent meetings and curriculum/book fairs and other homeschooling events are good places as well.

Thanks Diane! :)

Ella said...

Thanks Diane! I am going to keep these in mind! Now, I need to finish my book~ ;D

Tara Tyler said...

great article! getting out there is the biggest thing

one big thing i dont like about ebooks, i cant see what others are reading!!

Sandy said...

Hadn't thought about how the decline of real books changed the previous and rare book signings, meeting an author etc. Interesting too, with everyone calling themselves an author now, meeting one seems mundane. I can come up with a pretty good list of "authors" almost without trying now vs 15 years ago not so much. Insightful article. Also seems like much more work falls to the individual now vs the publisher and stores. Must take quite a bit of work and spending your own time and money to promote before you can start actually making money.

Wall of Honor

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Karen, you have a lot of possibilities.

Sandy, it's like a business - takes money to make money. Sadly you're right about meeting an author now being almost mundane. Now everyone is an author.

Anonymous said...

Excellent tips on organizing signings and thinking outside the box on locations.

BECKY said...

Thanks for all the wonderful tips! Some of the comments share great ideas, too. I just thought of kind-of a wacky one, similar to the cruise ship. What about during a train ride? (and I don't mean a city metro link. I mean a "real" long distance train ride!) The author could have a stack of books, maybe in the empty seat next to them, to sell....A captive audience! :) said...

I did a signing at my home. It was a New Year's Day party book launching. Bribe people with food, and you can't go wrong. I had great fun and sold a bunch of books.


Gina Gao said...

This is a great list!

nutschell said...

wow what a great list! I once attended a book signing at a bar:)

Romance Reader said...

Great list and this post is full of awesome advice!

Thanks so much for sharing!


Isabel C said...

I love this post! I wish there were more book signings in NC, but to no avail. I love it when I can go to one, and loved meeting you today!

Denise Covey said...

I am just so thrilled that our indie bookstores are flourishing in Oz. My favourite hosts authors all the time and has moved into e-books also. You do what you have to do to keep out there.
Great post. Great book.

Unknown said...

A debt of gratitude is in order regarding the yell out L. Diane!

Extraordinary thoughts for future book signings! So troubled that our book shops are declining, however these are fabulous choices!

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