It’s time for a book signing! Yeah! Your book is ready to go.
On the shelves and waiting anxiously for legions of readers to snatch it up.
But because you are not David Baldacci, Dan Brown or The First Lady, publicity and marketing are up to you. And you want to host a book signing, but have no idea where to start.
Never fear my friend, I’m here to help.
7 Tips for a Great Book Signing
Below is a quick list of seven ways to help you plan and host a successful book launch.
1- How do I even start planning a book signing?
You phone a friend. Yes, a friend or even better five friends.
Writers who also have books for people to sign.
One lonely, sad-looking writer standing (or worse sitting) at a table with some neatly stacked books scares people off.
Three to five people looking like they are having a party, that brings the crowds.
Grab some folks who write similar to you and set up a fun atmosphere with freebies to go along with the book.
And don’t just make it about the book, make it about getting to know you.
Before the signing starts, give a small talk.
Ten minutes: who you are, what you write, what was your favorite thing about this book, what was your most hated thing about this book?
People love behind the scenes, so give it to them.
2- Where in the world does an author host a book signing?
Bookstores and libraries are obvious choices for a book signing. I advocate something more creative.
Look at your author brand. What are your three to five things you share as part of that brand?
Use that and think about your book.
Does your main character love to garden? Then do it at a nursery.
Does she love to shop at flea markets? Then set up a booth.
Does he fiddle with farm equipment? Then Tractor Supply is your venue.
Other options include grand openings of local bistros and cafes, fun knick-knack stores or even hair salons.
What about civic groups? I’m a big advocate of hosting a signing at a civic meeting, particularly if your book has a strong message — Rotary Club, Junior League, Jaycees, or the VFW.
3- Ok, you know where but how do you get the store to say yes.
Give them something they can’t refuse.
If you’re holding it at a bookstore or library, then the book is the obvious reason.
But what if you’re elsewhere?
All those businesses that sell stuff will say yes if you promote their business along with your book.
You bring in customers. Make sure to include your advertisement for their business in your plan and in your pitch.
The civic group? Give a talk on your message.
If your main character is suffering from depression or coping with the loss of a loved one or helping out in a soup kitchen, then talk about those issues and how to deal with them.
4- I have books; what else am I supposed to bring?
Customers and giveaways. Make it fun.
During the talk or the signing, offer free giveaways every 20 minutes or so.
The old stand by is the book itself, but it’s even better if you offer a gift certificate from the store you’re hosting.
Other giveaways include items from the book.
Is your main character a teacher? Then give away a bag of school supplies.
Is he a private investigator? Then give away a spy kit. Get creative with your giveaways but stay on message.
5- Message? What message?
The message is NOT “buy my book. Buy my book. Buy my book.”
The message is a love of reading.
Love my stories and they’ll love you back.
My friend, author Aaron Ritchey, sells more books by NOT selling his book than anyone I’ve ever met. He sells books because he sells reading.
Give the reader something: advice on dating, an adventure to forget the world, tips on gardening, a way to advocate.
Ask them what they love about reading. Let them get to know you the author.
Books teach people. Even if they are written for pure entertainment, they still offer something besides a story.
What is it about your story you can offer people?
6- Do I just call them up?
Cold call. Yes, pick up the phone and call the manager and pitch them your idea.
It’s a lot like pitching an editor. Why would the editor want to represent you and your book?
That same reason applies to the store manager or group chairman. Sell the benefit to them.
Create a script and read it if you’re nervous but stick to your message.
I always send an email as back up as well. You just never know which communications method people prefer.
7- Logistics for a fun book signing
Develop a super fun menu that reflects the book. Don’t just do boring ole finger food.
Same with decorations. Balloons are seriously easy and look great.
Enlist a friend to help you put all this together.
Be thrifty! I can host a full-on birthday party for thirty-fourth graders for $20 by shopping at the Dollar Tree.
Confirm with the venue five days out.
Show up early.
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