Rocks in the path -
How to survive book signings
Some authors cringe when thinking about book signings. It can be an awkward experience.
I relished my debut and new-release book signings. It’s a deliriously happy time when my books release, and all my friends come to share my joy. The book signings I’m writing about today, though, are the post-release book signings. They typically occur in neighborhood book stores and aren’t accompanied by the trumpets and appeal of the release day.
I shriveled on the vine at my first post-release book signing. Arranged as a multi-author signing, the event featured five authors, one of whom was a “local.” The remaining four of us were from another city. Struggling with an embarrassingly light turn-out, we must have looked pretty formidable to book store customers, all lined up at our table with our books stacked up, waiting to be purchased.
The local author was a promotion wizard and had promoted the event well, so a steady trickle of her fans lined up to buy her books. The rest of us, being from a distant town, did little promotion and spent the time examining (and ultimately buying) each other’s books. I imagine the experience was similar to participating in a book signing with Nora Roberts – one must endure with a smile.
I encountered another “challenging” signing when I joined four other authors at a book store run by a person who absolutely loves fiction and authors. Her enthusiasm and web site promotion had us all excited – but the turn-out was dismal because her web site had no following and she didn’t know how to promote the event in her own store. In a two-hour period, we visited with perhaps four customers. “Making lemonade,” we authors found consolation in each other’s presence and shared a lively discussion about craft and marketing.
From those awkward beginnings, I’ve discovered that pre-planning can make post-release book signings an entertaining and rewarding experience. Meeting avid readers, discussing my book and yes, the thrill of signing it and seeing the look of anticipation in a reader’s eyes as she accepts my signed book all combine to make the signing sweet. The key to a successful book signing is to plan, select a book store that can accommodate and promote the signing. Do your own promotion as well and, once you’re there, connect with the people you meet – relax, share your joy and excitement for your book, but also listen and enjoy meeting book lovers. Offer something fun for free. Oh, and only display a few books, never an intimidating pile of them. Everything else falls in place.
Getting paid for the books you sell can also be a less-than-ideal experience. Stop by on Monday and I’ll share a couple of book selling nightmares that may help you avoid disaster. And if you have a book selling nightmare of your own, please share it here.