How to have a successful book signing
Book signings are one of those events that every writer will have to put together at some point.
I was so excited for my first book signing but at the same time I was terrified that no one would show up. Now to be fair my first book signing was actually a book release party, so I couldn’t rely on random shoppers in a book store to pass by my table and take pity on me. I was having an event at an art gallery and the draw was exclusively mines, a new author…with only a small pool of family and friends to rely on.
Cue the violins!
Writing The Buzz was such a labor of love, I wanted to kick off the debut with a book release party and then follow it up with book signings. It would be a way to celebrate the release of my book, the launch of my company and to have friends and supporters come out and join me in a collective woosah!
Because I was having a book release party and not just a book signing it took a lot more planning, so I hired an event planner who helped me with the bigger details such as securing sponsors, finding a space, nailing down a menu, etc.
Once we had that out of the way we set out to get publicity. Now this is particularly helpful in the months before your book signing. Well timed publicity can drive more attendees to your book signing as well provide exposure for your book. We sent out a series of press releases to the media we felt would be most likely to cover the release of the book and the event.
Then we got the word out to: friends, family, Facebook friends (I wasn’t on Twitter at the time), websites that post events, my subscriber list, posted flyers in libraries, and emailed people who’d purchased a copy of The Buzz prior to the book signing.
Basically we told anyone who’d listen…LOL.
And then I waited!
The day of the event came and I was not a ball of nerves like I thought I would be but instead I was surprised by the turnout and the wonderful show of support that everyone gave me. Strangers showed up, friends told their friends and so it went until I had over a hundred people in attendance.
I have not yet garnered those numbers for an in-store book signing but as a new author, I know that it takes time.
And…that was another reason why I wanted to have a book release “party” because I realize that an evening event with wine and chocolate would attract a different crowd, a crowd that probably would not show up at a book store for a book signing. We had such a good time that night, that I left my guests there because they just weren’t ready to leave!
Here’s a few tips that will help your book signing run smooth:
1.) Introduce yourself to attendees – This should especially be the case if you’re a new author. Let everyone know a little about you, your writing experience, what inspired you to write your book, etc.
2.) Know your book! Have a quick spiel and be prepared to read from your book. Also, be ready to answer questions from people who’ve already purchased and had a chance to read your book in advance.
3.) Have business cards/flyers/bookmarks – Give attendees something to take away from your book signing, even if they don’t purchase a book. And if they do purchase a book, giving them a business card or flyer with your website gives them a way to stay updated and share your info with their friends.
4.) Meet and greet your attendees – If possible, try to step from behind the table and meet people and shake hands. Not everyone will come up to meet you. So mingle! Find out how they heard about your book signing and ask about their favorite authors and their reading habits.
5.) Have someone take pictures/video – Think of each event as a way to add to your portfolio. Videos and pictures will make the people who missed your event go, “Hmm…I think I want to make the next one!” And it will also be a way to gauge what you need to make improvements on.
6.) Have a mailing list – Allow attendees to sign up for your mailing list. This way you can keep them informed of upcoming events and books.
Book signings are a great way to connect with your readers and is also a great way to establish relationships with book stores. But remember there are many things that factor into how successful a book signing is.
In my personal experience, time of the year, day of the week, time of the book signing, weather, and store location has all played a major part in the number of people who have shown up to my events. I’ve had really successful book signings and one where I only sold a few copies. But in each case, I was thankful to have sold any copies. And if you do find that the turnout is not what you expected, get up from behind your table and draw people in. This is another instance where flyers become useful. Walk around and pass out the flyers and inform customers that you are having a book signing and would like them to stop by your table. If possible, talk with the store manager in advance to find out their busy season, because a busy store will definitely draw people to your table. And lastly if possible, have the book store set up your books a few days in advance, along with a sign informing their customers of your signing.
Check out a few pictures from my book release party here.
Please share your book signing experiences or questions in the comment section below.