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Book signing dos and donts
3/29/2011 3:13:04 PM
Book-signings are every writer's dream. What could be better than sitting behind a stack of your very own books in a busy book store, signing copies for eager fans who want to know when the sequel is coming out? Book signings are an ideal way to sell books, right? What better place to sell your book than in a store that sells books! People love to meet their favorite authors, right? I mean, it's a no-brainer!
Not really. Yes, book stores are where many people still go to buy books. Yes, many people love face-time with their favorite authors. But no, a book store will not be your best place to sell your books. It can be a very good place if you do certain things, which I will get to soon, but it will most definitely not be the BEST place. First of all, you have to keep in mind that most people who visit book stores are there to search for a book in a particular genre. They may be there for a non-fiction book, but there are hundreds of topics in non-fiction and your non-fiction book is written about only one. They may be there for a fiction book, but as we all know there are many genres, and people often do not read across many genres. Most people stick with one or two genres. They may be sci-fi fans. They may be romance fans. They may like techno-thrillers or mysteries or fantasy or chick-lit or - well you get the picture. Your book is, or should be, one genre, and though the people visiting the book store on the day of your signing may like a few different genres, the fact is that many people will not be interested in your genre. That's just the hard truth.
So what is a poor author to do? Assuming you got your foot in the door and actually booked a signing by calling the local events coordinator and pleading your case as a local author, there are two huge things you can do. First, you can tell the manager of the store that you would like to be placed at the front of the store, not in the genre section. If you wrote a romance novel, you do not want to be sitting with a stack of your books in the romance section of the store. You want to be in the front of the store where EVERYONE can see you. Wait! But you just said that most people won't be interested in my genre, so why should I be at the front of the store where most people, who don't want my book, will see me. Wouldn't it be better to be in the genre section where at least those who like my genre can see me? Wouldn't that increase my odds of selling to my target audience? The answer is a definitive NO. Your odds of selling books will be vastly greater if you sit where everyone can see you. This is because you will be targeting not only your genre, but everyone who knows someone who likes your genre. Also, not everyone who likes your genre is guaranteed to stop in your section of the bookstore. Perhaps they are there for something else entirely. They may like your genre but miss you that day because they stopped in for a gift for someone else.
Targeting everyone is the key. Why? Because people love to buy signed books as gifts. Book-lovers love to give books as gifts, and a signed book is a great gift. They may not like fantasy books, but they may have a nephew or son who does. They may not like romance but perhaps their wife or daughter does. And if they do like your genre, then you are guaranteed to be seen if you sit at the store entrance.
The second thing you need to do is create your own marketing tools. Posters, books holders, stand ups, signs. These things will not be provided by the book store. Provide them yourself and make them eye-catching. Place an easel outside the entrance with a poster of your book cover and a picture of you with an announcement that you are inside signing your book. Do this the day before if you are allowed and let the customers know the time and date of your signing. If not, get there early the day of your signing and do it. This next thing may sound pointless, but believe me it's not. Get a nice crystal bowl and fill it with individually wrapped candies. Then put a sign that says, "free candy!" or "take one!" People are often nervous about approaching an author at a book store. The bowl of candy is an invitation that will put people at ease about approaching you. Also, remember to make up bookmarks and postcards about your book to give away even if they do not buy your book. On each should be info on where they can buy your book once they leave the store.
Finally, none of this will work well if you sit there like a log. You need to pretend you are the greeter at Walmart. You need to actually greet each person who comes through the door. Make eye contact and say Hello. If they give you any opening, follow up with a short introduction of yourself and why you are there. If you can do this, you are guaranteed to sell books. Being friendly and accessible will draw people to you. Then have that one-line description of your book ready when they ask, and they will ask, what your book is about. If you give them a five minute spiel about what your book is all about, you will lose them. Keep it short. And remember, expect them not to like your genre, so ask them if they know any "mystery" fans, or "fantasy" fans, or whatever genre your book is in. Remind them that it would make a great gift. SELL your book. You must SELL your book.
And finally still, bring a pad of paper and try to get the buyer's name and address. This will allow you to send a postcard to them when your next book is out!
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More Blogs by Shawn Patrick Cormier
Why Do You Write? - Monday, December 05, 2011
Creative Ways to Sell Your Book – or Selling in a Psych Ward! - Monday, December 05, 2011
Book signing dos and donts - Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Self-promotion - Wednesday, March 23, 2011
So you want to sell lots of books? - Sunday, March 13, 2011
To publish or not to publish - what is the difference? - Thursday, March 10, 2011
There is hope for us yet! - Tuesday, March 08, 2011
Has Publishing Killed the Writing Star? - Monday, March 07, 2011