How do I have successful book signings?
For many first time authors this is a daunting question. No one teaches an author what to expect when it comes to scheduling and attending a book signing. They are expected to learn how to perfect this all on their own, especially those that have self-published.
Authors need to understand they are entering a new part of their writing career – time to be a salesman! If an author goes into a book signing with the mindset that they are going to play the role of “the writer” they will not do well. Most authors are quiet, soft spoken individuals that would rather be at home in their cozy, writing corner working on their next novel.
Book signings are the best way to meet fans and sell books! Get out of your comfort zone and greet people around your table. Many writers might feel like it’s not in their personality to be so outgoing. I have one thing to ask them. Do you want to sell your books?
- Ignore the irritated, frustrated shoppers that grumble at your book. It’s not your fault they’re rude.
- Keep a smile on your face to encourage people to talk to you. I’ve discovered a smile and “hello” works better in most cases then, “Do you want to see my book?”
- Don’t be too pushy. I’ve seen several authors force their novels at the potential buyers. Later they complain, “Why aren’t my books selling?” Put yourself in the shopper’s shoes, do you want a book shoved under your nose?
- Pay attention to the people coming up to your table. After a few book signings you’ll learn the demographic of people interested in your book. Then you can pinpoint who to start conversations with. This little tip has helped me get through busy holiday book signings that last eight hours.
- They are excellent ways to meet other people in the field. I’ve met illustrators, editors, experts on marketing, website designers, and many other authors and writers. I have a box full of everyone’s business cards, in case I ever need to contact them.
Don’t forget to bring these items to a book signing:
- Plenty of books to sign.
- Pens (plural)
- Nice table cloth and table display (if you have one).
- Business cards.
Get out of the mindset of an author and into that of a salesman, but I understand this doesn’t come easily or naturally.
Here’s a step by step list to help a new author get through their first book signing. Have a release party with your family, relatives, friends and acquaintances. Remember, this is a time to celebrate! You’re “baby” has been brought into the world and it’s time people got to know it!
- Pick a date. The best times are in the evenings or weekends when people aren’t working.
- Local book stores. (Sometimes they even promote books in their weekly newsletter, Facebook, website or with flyers.)
- At your home or a friends.
- Libraries are great places.
- Stores and businesses sometimes allow their employee to hold the event in their conference room (or extra space).
- Community centers
- Hotel Conference Rooms
3. Create an invitation list. This will give you a general idea how big of a space you need to find in order to host the party.
- Send out invitations by mail. Invitations can reflect a theme; after all, this is about promoting the new book! This option is good for people that are willing to spend the money on postage.
- Call and invite people by phone. Personal contact is more intimate and therefore people may be more inclined to attend.
- Create and email an invitation. This is my personal choice. Email invitations are free and less likely to be forgotten in a pile of paperwork. A reminder can also be sent out a day or two before the party, unlike the other two options.
- Contact the local paper.
- Put an announcement up on craigslist or your Facebook page.
- Create flyers and put them around town.
- There are millions of ways to advertise. It’s all about who you know and how to get your book sold.
5. The Party!
- Arrange for food and beverages. People love both and it will bring them to your party.
- Make sure you have all the items you need for a book signing.
- Host a theme party based around your book. For example, if it’s about dragons, decorate accordingly.
- Have a potluck; friends can help you pull this party together by bringing something to snack on.
- Have a drawing; provide small prizes or a free copy of your book at the end of the night.
- Read a portion of your book out loud. This is a good way gain confidence speaking to people about your book.
- Provide music in the background. Grocery stores play music because it relaxes people and they buy more. (Marketing trick, time to think about that stuff!)
6. Most importantly . . .
- Practice your pitch to friends before going to the party. Remember, you’re the spokesperson for your book! Get it off that table and into people’s hands. If people hold your book, they are more likely to buy it. When they walk up to the table encourage them to read the back cover.
- Have a friend or family member there to handle the money. If you are not splitting the costs with a bookstore or business owner, make sure you bring plenty of change. That way an author can focus completely on the person asking questions.
- Be polite and always smile.
If the article above was helpful to you, I invite you to comment below.
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