Booksigning Tips to Sell That Book
I’ll bet most of you have seen the poor schmuck sitting alone in a book store in front of his towering, unopened pile of books. None of us wants to be him, but book signings are a hard sell. You’re asking people to come buy your books when they could have taken a power nap instead, in return for your smiling face and John Hancock. Your mama thinks those are special, but to most people, they aren’t much of an enticement.
1. Location, location, location.
Who the heck is going to come check out the Secret History of Middle American Basket Weavers unless they already know the book, and, even better, you? The answer: no one. You won’t even get a polite drop-by from the janitor unless you went to high school with him. Why? Because people are terrified that if they even talk to you they’ll have to buy stuff they don’t want. So pick locations where you are most likely to draw a crowd, a friendly one.
2. Timing is everything.
You want shiny, happy people. You don’t want them fighting rush hour traffic to get to you. They need time to chit chat while you sign the book they buy, and then browse the store and buy other products your host store has to offer. So pick a day and time that allows them to attend, and to shop at a leisurely pace.
3. And who doesn’t love free food?
Bring snacks, if the store will let you. I don’t care how highbrow and literary you think you or your readers are, people still show up for the free grub.
4. Hell, who doesn’t love free “anything?”
Give away your bookmarks or other small items to every person who stops to talk to you. Now is not the time to be chintzy. Ask the store if they are running any specials in conjunction with your signing that you can promote for them (this may even provide them with a “hint”). And, finally, consider a “Q&A” or a “Workshop” instead of a signing. Sure, you can still sign and sell books, but the store and you need traffic, so give people something of value, for free, to get them to come in.
5. Secure commitments.
Don’t take it for granted that your best friend Martha will come and bring her roommate and her roommate’s boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend. Promote your event. Facebook Events is a good way to start getting the word out. Evite is also a good tool. But don’t stop there. If the business has a Facebook page, link it to your Facebook event. Invite the business. Ask them to post the Event on their wall.
Finally, send personal emails or call the people you want to “anchor” the event. How many do you need to make the event a success for you and the store? Well, see #1, then come back to #5 here and make those calls.
6. Talk to the humans.
All of them. If someone comes to your table, give them the full force of your attention and interest. Ask them questions, don’t just spout out facts about your book. People think in response to factual information, but they act based on emotion. Make them feel special and create a fan for life, not just for the walk to the cash register.
7. Capture emails.
Keep a list of the email addresses of every person that will give you one. If you did everything well, they not only bought a book from you today, but they want to buy your new release next year, too. Make it easy for them by putting them on your distribution list.
8. Bring your backlist.
What’s even better than selling one book per visitor to your table? Selling seven. Make sure the book store has an adequate stock of your entire backlist, or bring them yourself. The store would be happy to scan them into inventory for you to sell them, I promise you.
My philosophy for signing-success is this: if the store made money, I probably did, too, and they may invite me back, display my books more advantageously, and talk them up to staff or customers. You can achieve this. Plan carefully so that your hard work counts. Don’t overbook yourself with poorly timed or executed signings. Pick the right location within the right community, get firm commitments from “anchor” attendees, and give more than you get, in terms of your expertise, your snacks (!), your attention, and your promotion.
Pamela Fagan Hutchins writes award-winning mysterious women’s fiction and relationship humor books, and holds nothing back. She is known for “having it all” which really means she has a little too much of everything, but loves it: writer, mediocre endurance athlete (triathlon, marathons), wife, mom of an ADHD & Asperger’s son, five kids/step-kids, business owner, recovering employment attorney and human resources executive, investigator, consultant, and musician. Pamela lives with her husband Eric and two high school-aged kids, plus 200 pounds of pets in Houston. Their hearts are still in St. Croix, USVI, along with those of their three oldest offspring.
Her latest book is the mystery/women’s fiction, Saving Grace.