Most authors have probably had the dream of a table in a bookstore, filled with their books, and a long line of breathless fans waiting, with tomes in hand, for their autograph. As an author with five self-published books, who has done several book signings, I have to say I am still waiting for the long line of folks. But book signings can be fun and they are a good way to let your local community know what you have available.
I'll do my best. I've had several book signings for my self-published books, and I've also sold them at booths. Here are a few things I have learned along the way.
- Think carefully about where you want to have the signing. Is it a good place with lots of foot traffic? Time of day and weather play a huge factor as well.
- Think outside the box. Book stores aren't always the best places to have book signings. Think about it; the people coming in probably don't know who you are, and you are surrounded by your competition. See if there's a coffee shop or cafe who would let you set up a little table. Craft shows have always been good for me. If it's a picture book, why not approach a bounce-house or child-related place? A book about outdoor adventures? Perhaps a hunting supply store. Locally owned businesses are usually pretty open.
- Approach the business owner during a time of day when business is slow. Let them know what you are going to do to publicize the event and bring more customers into their business. Never assume they will do the marketing. And never promise a huge crowd of people, just that you will do your best. Always agree on what percentage of sales, if any, the business owner is going to want, and if the customers are going to pay you or at the register (this is more important at book stores). Ask what you need to bring as far as table/chair etc.
- Don't spend too much money on ANYTHING. Bring 20-30 more books than you have set aside for family and friends who have promised to come. Put a few posters around town and create a flyer with a book excerpt and a QR code for people to find out more about the book. Maybe bring a candy dish, or something inexpensive to hand out to kids (fruit snacks work great!) Maybe a cheap tablecloth and a nice Sharpie fine point to sign with. I repeat, do not spend a ton of money! Your book should be the star of the table, anyway.
- Don't plan to be there too long. Make your book signing 2-4 hours, and leave a few books behind at the business or flyers letting customers who arrive too late know where they can purchase copies.
- Always bring information on where people can get Kindle books. Some customers only want Kindle books and you might get a sale or two by offering an easy way for them to find it.
- Engage. Don't just sit behind the table writing your next book. Make eye contact. Comment about something they have purchased. Ask them what their favorite kinds of books are.
Do you have any tips for book signings? I would love to hear about them in the comments!