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?


  1. Your book will be invaluable to me if and when I get to that stage with my novel.

  2. Great list. Thanks for sharing so much.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Great list of alternatives.

  5. 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.

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

  7. 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...


  8. 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.

  9. 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.

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

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

  12. 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.

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

  14. I've been too chicken to set one up.

  15. 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.

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

  17. 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.

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

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

    Mary Montague Sikes

  20. Thank you Diane! YOU are amazing :D

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

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


  23. 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

  24. You have the best ideas!

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

  26. 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.

  27. 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.

  28. 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! :)

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

  30. great article! getting out there is the biggest thing

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

  31. 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

  32. 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.

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

  34. 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! :)

  35. 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.


  36. This is a great list!

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

  38. Great list and this post is full of awesome advice!

    Thanks so much for sharing!


  39. 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!

  40. 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.

  41. 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!

    You are only a wellspring of data...
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