Left, Sarah McCarty; right, Erin McCarthy.
Yesterday was a BIG day in this little author's life.
1. I had a photographer come to the bookstore with the sole purpose of taking my picture for the newspaper. Maybe it's no biggie to most people, but this was a first for me. I was nervous as heck--I'm much more comfortable being behind the camera than in front of it. I'd say it took him a good hour to get a zillion shots. An hour of jittery nerves :) But I'm thrilled about the article (Sun. Aug 20 Detroit Free Press--for anyone who's interested)!
2. We had a book signing with Sarah McCarty and Erin McCarthy. Sarah is a bundle of energy and enthusiasm. Erin is quieter but sweet and sharp. I had a WONDERFUL time! I love going to book signings, especially the ones we have at our store because they are like parties. Also, as I've told several authors who have come to our store for a signing, they're well-attended because Melissa does a great deal of advance marketing of the event.
And this leads me to the relevant topic of the day: The do's and don'ts of book signings.
1. Advertise/promote the event locally in any medium at your disposal. Have contacts at your local newspapers? Have them place a notice in their local "What's Happening Around Town" section. Pass out fliers in nearby malls and give the bookstore manager promotional materials to distribute in their store the week before. Mail/email invitations to everyone on your mailing list. If you don't want to be sitting in a back corner, directing people to the bathroom for three hours, you MUST promote.
2. Dress appropriately. Whether you're small press published, have a POD through Lulu or are a NYT Bestseller, people have certain expectations of authors. They do not realize the significance of publishing houses or print runs. An author is a celebrity if they're published. Period. So look the part of a celebrity. Be neat and professional.
3. Bring a prize basket and hold a drawing. This can work for you in a number of ways. If you put "Door prizes" or "Free Drawing" on your flier/advertising, you'll bring in potential buyers. Also, if you ask for snail mail or email addresses on the drawing entry slips, you'll gather names and contact info for future use. Especially if it's a local store, those mailing addresses can come in handy in the future.
Debbie displays a tote she won through an online drawing. Readers LOVE prizes. This one is particularly clever.
4. If you're local, make sure the readers know this. They LOVE meeting local "celebrities".
5. Make small talk--and not necessarily about your book. Talk about the town, even if you're not from there. Know something about local attractions or events. This will give the readers a sense of connection with you.
6. Leave promotional materials behind when you're through and offer to sign any remaining stock. It's also a good idea to have business cards specifically intended for book sellers, with REAL contact information such as a telephone number. That way, if they'd like to have you back, they don't have to jump through too many hoops to find you.
7. If you can, follow up with a visit a couple weeks later to say hello, check stock, answer questions from store sales associates and leave more promotional materials. A book signing is not just about three hours (or whatever) its real purpose is to build a longtime relationship with a bookseller. This could potentially lead to more handselling, longer shelf time and perhaps endcaps, etc.
IMO a successful signing is not just about selling X number of books within X hours. A successful signing is one where the staff is so enthusiastic about an author they spend the next several weeks, months, whatever, talking to customers about the author, blogging about them, recommending their books.
It happens. You'll bet I'll be promoting Erin and Sarah in our store! And look whose picture is on my blog today :)
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