I’ve had friends (who are also writers) ask me why I like doing book signings and how they could go about doing a book signing. I grew up in a grocery store in South Philadelphia and learned from a very young age the importance of promoting your business from my parents, the famous Fred & Lucy from my blog episodes called Life with Fred and Lucy.
These early lessons of promoting a business helped me later on in life when I worked at the Academy of Natural Sciences and was the Coordinator of their Birthday Party Program. I had to do some big time promoting of the birthday parties on a shoestring budget. Museums are non-profit and at the time, there wasn’t that much money to advertise my program on a large scale; so I improvised, and brought in lots of clients.
So, back to the book signing as I said at the beginning of this blog, someone at a recent meeting of the South Jersey Writers’ Group asked me how I do a book signing. They had no idea how to start. Since I’ve been doing book signings for our group's anthology Tall Tales and Short Stories from South Jersey with my super hero sidekick, Dawn Byrne, I’ve decided to do a combination book signing, crafts and jewelry event with a few friends. The event will be called Steampunk Granny’s Gala Books & Craft Extravaganza. Details to be announced.
How to prepare for a Book Signing
Have a supply of your newly published books to sell. Always bring more than you think you might sell.
Business cards: I have a personal business card and a business card for my book featuring the cover and info on where to purchase the book. People don’t always have the money to buy a book that day, but they will go home and order it later. Cards help remind them about the book and meeting you.
Banners/ Posters/ Flyers: Since I squirreled away my pennies for the big book launch day of Rook Oasis the first book of my apocalyptic series, I was able to get a nice size banner with stand.
Poster board I have an 18x 24 poster featuring my book cover. I was able to get this item from Staples at a very reasonable price.
Flyers: You can print them up yourself and get permission from shopkeepers to stick in their windows or bulletin boards.
Calendar: keep one with you all the time for when a possible signing comes up.
YOU NEED SOMETHING TO ATTRACT POTENTIAL CUSTOMERS
The banner is a sure way to get the attention of people walking past the coffee shops and books stores where you will be selling your book. But, if you can’t start big, go with the poster board size that can be clearly seen where you’re selling books. I paid 22 dollars for this poster size and I have a smaller one which I use when there is very little space to maneuver around. It only cost me fifteen dollars.
You need to advertise your upcoming book signing and you can do this on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and local newspapers. Shout it from the roofs!!!
Sell Yourself: Yes, that’s what I said! You are selling yourself. Do you know what that means? You are out there trying to sell a book that you feel is a good book, but you have to convince people to read this good book and that means you have to be friendly and appreciative when people stop by your table to ask about your book.
Money is tight and when people shop, they need to stay within their budget, but they will be more willing to purchase your book if you are ready to chat with them and answer questions. I often take pictures of myself with the people who buy a book from me. They love when I tell them that they will be on my blog. It means that you care about them.
When I do a book signing at a coffee shop or book store that has been gracious enough to let me come in and sell my books, I leave a signed book for the owner as a thank you. Sure it’s out of pocket, but they’ve welcomed you into their business, and let’s be honest; our presence does throw off their normal routine. Call it good karma.
How do I find venues to sell my book?
Where do you go for coffee? Is there a favorite independent book store that you like? Are there festivals coming up in your neighborhood? Are you checking the internet for upcoming book signing opportunities? Here is one example, Collingswood, New Jersey has a yearly Book Festival and they invite writers to sign up and sell their books. The Philadelphia Free Library has a yearly event also.
Search your weekly newspapers to see what opportunities are there to sell your books. I’m pretty sure that you can sell your books at most events. Call and find out. Find out what other writers are doing and where they go to sell books.
You are selling yourself and sometimes it means visiting as many places as you can and setting up dates for your signing event.
I hope my advice has helped you feel more comfortable with planning and doing a book signing. Now get out there and get started.