Author book signings are hit or miss. Retailers spend time and money advertising. Authors spend time and money traveling to the store. Results are often less-than-successful.
However, planning can increase your odds of success.
- Schedule your signing far in advance and stay in contact with the store.
- Do your part to advertise the event to your readers/community via your website, newsletter, and social media.
- Email photos and book covers (both high resolution) and a bio to the store for advertising purposes.
- Consider a multi-author event. Help the retailer by connecting them with other authors. Designate one of you to serve as store liaison.
- Notify your publishers about the event in time for them to send promotional materials—or, if your publisher does not provide materials, produce them yourself. Bookmarks, postcards, posters, and bag-stuffers are great ways to advertise the event ahead of time. Check with the store so you don’t duplicate each other’s efforts.
- Customers are often confused about who that person sitting behind the stack of books is—prepare a name tag and table sign, and ask for someone to direct people to you.
- Arrive early enough that you can freshen up, visit with the staff, and acquaint yourself with the store.
- Bring something to share with customers. Free bookmarks, pens, reader’s guides, or a piece of chocolate helps the signing feel less a marketing ploy and more a conversation with readers. If the retailer approves, hold a drawing for a book or other giveaway.
- Offer to do a reading, give a speech, or hold a Q&A time for readers. Be creative in tying into the theme of your book.
- Go prepared to pray with customers. Have ears to hear the needs of those who come to your book table, but don’t be tempted to take on the role of psychologist.
- If traffic is light, ask how you can help the staff. Straighten shelves. Entertain customers’ children. Go with a servant’s heart and be a blessing to the staff.
- Ask if you may autograph stock before you leave, but don’t be offended if the staff declines. Most publishers don’t allow returns on signed books.
- Express gratitude for the invitation, for stocking your books, and for hosting the signing.
- Pray for the store and for a successful signing.
Above all, communicate. When author and retailer have both planned ahead, a book signing can be pleasant and profitable.
Deborah Raney’s first novel, A Vow to Cherish, inspired the World Wide Pictures film of the same title. After All, the final book in her Hanover Falls series, released in May 2012 from Howard/Simon & Schuster, and she is currently working on a standalone novel. Deb will teach Writing Women’s Fiction and The Perfect Word at Writing for the Soul in 2013. Visit her online.