Hey, SEers! Mae here today. Got your pen handy? It’s time to sign some books! 🙂
When it comes to book signings, whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned pro, it never hurts to reevaluate your strategy. I realize not everyone has print copies of their books, but that day might linger just around the corner. Then or now, I hope you find these tips helpful.
Let me start by saying I’m far from an expert. I only have two signings under my belt, with a few on the horizon. That said, I’ve learned from the meager few I’ve done. How, you ask?
Know your venue
If you’re going somewhere you’ve never been before, scope it out beforehand so you know the layout. At the very least, research it online and Google Earth the location. If I’m going somewhere new, I always do a practice run first so I know exactly how long the drive takes.
Bring your own accessories
Most places give you a table. Sometimes you have to share a table with another author or authors. Know what size space you have and plan accordingly. Because I don’t want the standard fold-out table look, I have a tablecloth that accompanies me. I’ve seen many authors use white for this purpose, but because I’m writing mysteries/suspense, I wanted something with a little more oomph. For that reason I use a red tablecloth. I also have a pre-made author sign that goes in a a clear acrylic stand on my table.
What to put on your table
I theme for the event. For a Halloween signing I did, I had a few small pumpkins on my table, silk autumn leaves, and a glittery black spider. Some authors will put out candy bowls, but I haven’t seen much results. Either kids gather round them, preventing the adults from getting close, or they get passed over entirely.
One author I know uses a portable DVD player and runs a constant loop of her numerous book trailers. I like that idea. Another has a large standing poster, and almost all have bookmarks, postcards or rack cards related to their books. Have swag available to give as freebies and to those who buy. Get your name out there!
Dress the part
Many authors I know go in sweats or jeans. I like to step it up a bit and go for business casual, but that’s my personal preference. Dress is something you might want to theme to the venue.
As book signings can range anywhere from a few hours to a long event (the first one I did lasted 7 hours), go prepared. That includes wearing comfortable shoes. It might be tempting to sit behind your table, but you’ll make more sales by standing and mingling, and engaging with the visitors.
This goes without saying, but when people approach your table, be sure to engage them. By the same token know when to back off, especially if you’re at a venue with a lot of authors. If a guest is engaged with the author beside you, don’t butt in and try to steer the conversation your way. Sadly, I’ve seen this happen. No author should be so hungry for sales that they try to steal another author’s thunder.
Consider a giveaway
Want to collect names for your newsletter? Offer a prize like a gift card to Amazon, drawn randomly from everyone who signs up for your newsletter. This works great if you’re doing a book signing at a library or similar venue, but if your signing is at an actual bookstore, remember that Amazon is their competition. Offer a gift card to the bookstore instead. Not only will you make guests happy, but the bookstore too.
Last October, I did a book signing at a local store the week before Halloween. As the store was also home to several rescue cats up for adoption, I figured my rescue kitty, Raven, would be great for drawing people to my table. What better enticement than a black cat near Halloween in a store where cats roamed the aisles? This is how I tied my giveaway, Halloween, and the venue together:
Take advantage of promotion
Send press releases to your local newspapers and online sources. Find out what the venue plans for promotion and capitalize on that. Advertise on social media. Consider doing a Facebook ad targeted to readers in the demographic area. Create flyers and distribute to local businesses where readers might visit (i.e, coffee shops). Enlist your friends to promote on social media.
The day of the event
The support of family and friends is wonderful, but make sure you don’t get lost in the shuffle. Many times well-meaning family and friends will congregate at an author’s table, preventing the book buying public from getting close. It’s wonderful to have the support of loved ones, but temper it accordingly, so you can reach a new audience as well.
Many of the people who wander to your book signing are an offshoot of a planned visit to the venue. Like most, they’re browsing. Book signings, especially those at local venues, don’t result in major sales. What they do result in is networking, name recognition and public awareness. If you sell a handful of books on the side, consider it a good day! When the event is over, ask if you can leave a few books in the store or venue. This will keep your name and work visible even after you’ve left.
Send a thank you to your host for their work and help in promoting your signing. It goes without saying you should be grateful for the exposure. Even if there was something you didn’t particularly care for (I’ve heard authors grumble about set-up), the venue did you a favor by providing promotional space. Make sure you thank them. These are people and places to keep in your orbit for the future.
Now it’s your turn—have you done a book signing? Was there anything you found particularly helpful, or would do differently in the future? What did you like or didn’t like?
If you’re strictly an ebook author, have you considered stepping into print, and if so would you do a signing? How would you go about finding a venue? Let’s chat books, signing and authors! Share your comments below.