Those of you who are regular blog readers here know that I've talked pretty extensively about my experiences at book signings over the summer. But Samhain author Maria Zannini is hosting a special event today at her blog: she has a collection of tips from many different authors, and so we hope people are blog-hopping today to peek into new blog corners and perhaps gain some book-signing experience.
So...in no particular order, here are my top tips for throwing yourself a successful book signing ('cause you are going to have to do it yourself, you know, unless you're Stephenie Meyer or Nicholas Sparks...)
1. Choose your venue carefully. It can be exciting to plan your first book signing. But consider the where and when first, and be a little choosy. I’ve attended signings where I’ve sold 20+ books, and I’ve attended others where I didn’t sell any at all. Think about the cost-effectiveness: is it worth it to travel a long distance to a signing, where few people might know you? Or will you do better locally? If you go somewhere far from home, make sure you have a “hook,” or a connection to that location. Are you scheduling your signing for the opening night of a popular movie? (I learned this one the hard way, unknowingly trying to compete with the premiere of “Sex and the City”). Will the store do enough publicity to draw people in? What is their publicity plan?
2. Contact your venues well in advance. Three months is good; they need time to plan and publicize, and so do you!
3. Send promo items to help the bookseller publicize. Bookmarks, a poster, flyers…all are good things they can put on a desk or near the cash register, for customers to pick up. ASk them if they'd like you to send a press release they can use, too. And of course, make sure you’re doing your own share of getting the word out. Post notices on your website and blog, send out an announcement if you have a Yahoo group or newsletter, tell people at work, mail postcards to the people on your holiday card list…you get the idea!
4. Find out whether the bookstore can order your books, or whether you will have to carry them in yourself. Sometimes if you’re published with a small press, stores won’t be able to order them from your distributor. Make sure you know this ahead of time.
Be courteous to your host(ess). Both in the early planning stages, and while you’re there, be kind. Bring a small gift to show appreciation. Write a thank-you note after you leave.
5. Have something to say. If you have the opportunity, consider holding a question and answer session. Or a general discussion of your book. Even better: read from your book, and leave customers hanging. This was one of the most successful things I did to entice readers to buy my book.
6. Things to bring: promo items (bookmarks, magnets, business cards, etc), a good pen for signing your books, water to drink, book stands to prop up your books, and chocolate. No one can pass up chocolate!