Hello, I sort of promised I would write about the local book signings I have been doing, so this is me trying to keep that promise. I did a couple of small book signings in a nearby business that wanted to support me as a local author and had my big book signing and talk at the library this last Saturday. So let’s talk about what worked and what didn’t.
The signings at the local business were a lot like cold calling. The people there weren’t there to see me, and they didn’t know I would be there when they came in to do business. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it was more nerve wracking for me. It was a little hit and miss. One day I did really well, but the second day I was there, I had no traffic coming my way. What really made a difference was the owner of the business introducing me to their customers that first day. It got people to come over and see me and got my foot in the door with them. They asked about my book and several picked up a copy as a Christmas present. The second day I didn’t get as many introductions from the owner and it made a big difference. I also had a different setup. I was more in the corner and I also didn’t have as much set up to catch people’s attention. I think that also made a difference.
I really enjoyed the library signing, because the people who attended were there to see me and hear me talk about writing and publishing. I specifically wanted to help local authors and not just do a regular signing. I am just me, and maybe not so great of a draw all by my lonesome, but I do work for a small publisher and have been through the process, so I can impart knowledge to others. And that’s how we advertised it. As a talk about writing and publishing and a way for writers to get their questions answered. We scheduled the signing for two hours, the first 45 minutes to an hour for the talk and Q and A, then the remaining time to sign and talk to anyone who came up to my table.
The library helped a lot with promoting the event. They even set me up with a short radio interview on a local station. They also made flyers and advertised it in their building. I made a Facebook event and promoted it on my social media as well as in the Facebook group for my city. We got a lot of interest, but the day of the event we had a nasty snow storm, so not everyone was able to make it.
But the ones who did come had great questions and paid a lot of attention to what I had to say. It was really a rewarding experience, because I did feel like they were getting a lot of good information out of the talk. And I worked hard to make it a talk and not a lecture, which I have a tendency to do. I was so happy with how the talk went.
Not everyone who came was a reader of my genre, but I did make some sales. And to me, making one sale at an event is a success. It’s an unknown reader you reached that you didn’t even know existed. Also, these people were now familiar with my book, and may talk about it to people who do read my genre. Signings aren’t about sales, they are about making connections and getting your book name out there in the world.
I would really recommend people do local events like signings or talks. They are a great way to connect to people in your community. And people do like supporting locals in their endeavors. It’s nice to be able to say someone from your area did something great, because that means you can too. Think about whether you want to just do a signing or if you want to do an Ask Me Anything or talk on a topic you know a lot about. If there are other local authors in your area, see if they want to team up with you. The more people promoting the event and drawing people in, the better.
And you will have to promote if you want people in the seats. Use social media and local news outlets, like radio or the paper to get the word out. A lot of cities have an events paper that comes out weekly. See what you have to do to get your event listed.
And have fun. What made my talk so successful was that I was just trying to be friendly and genuine. That translated well. If I had been worried only about sales and the number of attendees, people wouldn’t have connected to my talk and they wouldn’t be interested in future events. And yes, I got invited back to do another talk and signing after the sequel comes out.
One big lesson I learned from this is to be careful about winter events. You can’t predict the weather, but it can affect your attendance in a big way. So keep that in mind when you plan ahead. Maybe January and February aren’t the best months to ask people to travel to see you. But don’t give up if that does happen. My next events will be in April and May, and I’m very much looking forward to them. I am not discouraged.
My last bit of advice is to be prepared. But that may be a post for another day. Feeling prepared and ready for your event will really cut back on anxiety, and it will help you to look more professional. So plan ahead what you will need and bring, how you will set up your table, and what you will say. And most importantly, enjoy yourself!