“How did you go about setting up the book signing?” “Weren’t you nervous?” “What would you have done if no one had shown up?” These are the common questions I have been asked since my book signing event. The answer to the second question; YES, I was as nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs! However, I also want people to read my book. Let’s face it, even in today’s time; many people just don’t love the internet as much as we do. Heck, even if they are the type that spend 23 hours a day on the net, there is still a huge chance that they will never come across my Facebook page, website, or blog. I had to find another way to advertise; a more personal way. To answer the third question; if no one had shown up, I would have come back home with a box full of books, but at least I would have the satisfaction of knowing that I tried.
From the day I published my book, I knew that I wanted to have a book signing. What can be more satisfying than actually speaking to the people who are going to buy your book? You get to answer questions and share your reasons for writing the book, what the driving force behind the idea was. You let the reader know that you are a real person and not just a name on the cover. What can be better for sales than letting the readers know you on a more personal level and saying that you appreciate them? From personal experience, I can say that when an author takes the time to acknowledge me as a person and not just another dollar in their pocket, the more likely I am to buy from them again and again.
I had no idea where to start as far as setting up my book signing. I had two choices; go with a chain bookstore or with a smaller, individually-owned store. There were advantages and disadvantages to both. With the chain store, I would probably have more people show, as they do more business than the “mom and pop” store. They are also located in a high-traffic area. However, I was sure that the personal attention I would get from the chain store would be next to nothing. I would be lucky if they gave me a chair to sit on and a glass of water to sip. With the smaller store, the location was not ideal (and many people hadn’t even heard of them, even in my small town), but the personal attention I would get would be better. Think about it, the smaller store wants more business and they know that a book signing can bring in people that may turn into regular customers for them. You may not think that “personal attention” is important in a signing, but if you want the event to go off smoothly, then you need to have a say in how it is planned and a chain store may just blow you off when it comes to your preferences, unless you are someone like James Patterson, and then you wouldn’t even have to set up the signing, as your agent or publisher would do that for you. I decided to go with the smaller store and I was glad I did! Make this decision based on what feels right to you.
Advertising was the next hill to tackle. I didn’t just want to run an ad in the local paper, I wanted something people would see and read, not skip over in their haste to get to the comic section. I called the news paper and told them that I was a local author and that I had just published my first book. I didn’t tell them that I was self-published at first. I had to get my foot in the door before divulging too much information. What I did tell them was my hook for the story. I told them why I wrote it, the importance of the story and the moral behind it. Most news papers will be more than glad to publish a piece on a local artist. Within a few minutes, I had the promise of an article on the front page. I also ran an ad in another, smaller paper we have here. A good friend and fellow author, Nancy Parish, made up a flyer for me to print out and I passed those babies out everywhere I could think of; the library, schools, and businesses. I also plastered the information all over Facebook, my blog, and Twitter. The main goal is to get as much exposure as you can. Ask friends and family to spread the word, too! Heck, I wasn’t above begging, either! LOL!
The owner of the bookstore was as excited as I was about the signing and she went all out for it! We decided that since my book is a children’s/YA book and is set at Halloween, we would do a spooky theme with Halloween décor and treats. The owner and her associates even dressed in costumes for the kids and she had a local artist come and paint the doors that the customers come in and out of to match my book cover. I have to say that the whole Halloween theme was a big hit with all the patrons! I sold 45 books in three hours and got to meet many nice people who I hope will buy future books from me. *The owner of the bookstore got new customers that had no idea that her shop was there until they came to the signing. It was a win for all involved. *Use this as a selling point when asking store owners to let you arrange a book signing. I guarantee you they will agree.
The main point of this long, drawn-out piece is to tell everyone to take the chance! You never know what will happen if you don’t decide to act. Yeah, I could have sat there for 3 hours and only sold a few books, but at least I would have tried! As Indie authors, it is up to us to get our names out there. We don’t have the shoulders of a big publishing company to sit on. However, we are not helpless! We can do anything that those big publishing companies can do and we get to keep more of the money! 😉