Marketing Strategy: The Book Signing
Professional speaker and author, Larry James, provides valuable insight into the marketing strategy of book signings – in his article 35 Ways to Make Your Next Book Signing an Event!! And, we’d like to share a summary of some of the tips we found most interesting, along with a few new ideas. Try them out! See how they work to help you increase sales and, even more importantly, increase awareness of your book.
Make sure to…
- Contact the store well in advance to book your spot (coordinate with a special holiday if it suits your book). Create a colourful flyer displaying your book cover and a photo of you, to be posted in the store window, included in their newsletter and/or on their website.
- Ask them to display a copy of your book in advance and after the signing, along with your flyer/poster, near the checkout area.
- Have bookmarks professionally made that show your book cover, price and ISBN. Make sure that you print a lot and hand them out to everyone, whether they buy during the signing or not. Also have a laminated poster of your book made up and display it at your table – include your website address so people can find you and how to purchase your book after the event.
- At least a month in advance, call local media (the store may be able to provide you with a list of media they have used in the past) and request an interview for the week of the signing. Don’t forget the radio; they can provide a great opportunity for announcing your upcoming event. Send out news releases and/or give the media a special invitation to attend the signing. Ask the local community paper if they can send someone out to take pictures. Giving interested media a promotional copy of your book may seal the deal.
- Walk around the store, greet people – hand them a book to flip through and/or a bookmark. Be friendly and approachable. When someone approaches the table, start handing them a book as you give a brief introduction of yourself and the book – if they start to flip through the book it’s time to be quiet and let them read.
- Take a camera and use it – for pictures (with permission of course) with store staff and those purchasing your book for future promotion on your website or social media sites.
- Communicate and follow-up – bring a small thank you gift for the store’s Community Relations person (e.g., a small box of chocolates). Ask if there is an opportunity to chat with store staff prior to the event just to let them know about your book (and you!). Always send a follow-up thank you card.
- Think up a unique way to sign your books that ties in with the theme of your book or ask the individual if it is being given as a gift for such as a birthday or anniversary, and sign accordingly.
- Attract people’s attention – Set out a colourful bowl or basket of candy, chocolates or other small, inexpensive treats to draw people your way. (Make sure that you have a waste receptacle available for wrappers to alleviate litter around the store!) Or, have an interesting item/conversation piece connected with your book on display.
- If they have a PA system, prepare a short text inviting shoppers to stop by and see you, such as “we are excited to have ‘your name’ in our store today, be sure to stop by and say hello” ~ it’s then your job to the sell relevant buyers on our book.
- Being timid! Book signings are not just about signing books; they are an opportunity to engage people in conversation, and get your book and you, the author, more well-known!
- When people have been greeted at your table and/or are looking through your book, don’t keep talking – give them time and space. Being too forward may turn them away.
- Being discouraged if your sales seem slow or non-existent. Be professional and upbeat throughout the signing, and appreciate what it has been accomplished – increased awareness of your book. For new authors, book signings might only average around 3 to 7 books. Again, the main point is to make people aware of the book and the author. Sometimes after-signing sales are higher than during the actual signing.
Resources ~ 35 Ways to Make Your Next Book Signing an Event!! by Larry James 1999 ~ updated May 2013 40+ Ways to Make Your Next Book Signing an Event!!0