Getting paid and other book signing challenges

Signing for a very special fan - a most joyful reward for writing fiction

Signing for a very special fan - a most joyful reward for writing fiction

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.



Filed under success techniques, The Writing Life

3 responses to “Getting paid and other book signing challenges

  1. Hmmm. Why do those book signing experiences sound so familiar? Janet, you just brought on a serious attack of deja vu. LOL


  2. I just love answering all those great questions I get at a signing, like, “Where’s the bathroom?” “Where can I find that great series of vampire books?” and “Oh, you’re an author, why haven’t I heard of you?” Sigh. I keep telling myself, it will get better.


  3. Berniceann Burns

    I lead the FANs group at our local library. We want to have an author in to read a portion, do signings, etc…. Do we pay him? How much?

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