Book signings aren’t necessary for success. If you make your profit online and have fans thousands of miles away—and if you live in an isolated and remote area devoid of bookstores and a literary nightlife—you might find better ways to promote your book (such as through a virtual book blog tour) instead.
That being said, a good book signing can be a lot of fun and give you validation in addition to a host of fans. A bad book signing will consist of you sitting behind your desk on a rainy day (always rainy) while a bookstore worker and one or two sympathetic customers give you sympathetic glances while you wait.
It’s impossible to know if your signing will be bang or bust, but it is possible to hedge the odds much further in your favor.
Find a location. Bookstores are common, and both chain stores and especially independent bookstores are open to signings. Local fairs and farmers’ markets can also make for good locations, and if you can secure a spot in a writing or book-selling convention, that’s even better. Before you call to reserve a spot, identify what makes you a good author for the signing. This can include subject matter, awards, bestselling badges, etc., and be a great way to let others know where you rank.
Plan ahead. The best dates are hard to get, so schedule your signing several months in advance. It’s also a good idea to review community calendars online so that you can plan around local events to get the best attention toward your book.
Advertise it! About a month before the signing, it’s a good idea to start publicizing it to everyone you know. This way people can lock your signing into their schedule and show up on the big day. You’ll also want to order copies of your book, if you haven’t already.
Bring friends and family. If you’re alone at your table, people might assume you have nothing worth sharing. A supportive spouse, friend, or even a pet dog (bookstore permitting!) will make your table much more welcoming to anyone casually interested.
Prepare some snacks. Candy, cookies, or even a box of coffee will lure people over. It can also open the door to a lot of friendly discussion. If nothing else, you get something sweet out of your own signing.
Bring your book. Depending on your distribution method, local bookstores might be able to buy copies of your book ahead of your signing. Even so, you should have a good supply on hand. Don’t feel bad about charging full price for the book, either—after all of the work you’ve poured into it, you deserve some pay.
A free gift goes a long way! This isn’t mandatory, but adding a free gift (a pen, T-shirt, bookmark, or other merchandise) to purchases can make buying your book a more exclusive experience for readers. People will be excited to buy, and excited about you as an author!
Set up a sign-up. Not everyone who stops by will buy a book. Many of them will be learning about you for the first time, and despite their curiosity, won’t be ready to put money down. Don’t let these new fans slip through the cracks! Provide a newsletter sign-up sheet so that people can track you as an author and buy your book later if they change their minds.
Be visually oriented. Book signings are about the visuals—what your table looks like, what your book looks like, and even what you look like. Preparing for a clean and professional presentation will win people over and make people curious about your book. Hint: author branding comes in very handy here!
Have fun. You might need to remind yourself that book signings are supposed to be fun and a unique shared experience between you and your readers. If you don’t make as many sales as you hoped, you still were able to walk through the process and will be better prepared for your next opportunity.
What have your experiences been with book signings? As always, please share in the comments section below. You can also visit our exclusive author community at Facebook by clicking the button below.