Your book is completed, you’ve done the launch and a wave of relief brushes over you. Or maybe you have more anxiety now that you’re left in the void. Who knows? Regardless, now that your book is out – what do you do next? In a previous post we chatted about what to do at a book launch and why you need one. This post is geared towards those who have finished their book and are looking to do more public events – specifically book signings. You may be thinking – Why do I need to do book signings when the launch is done? I got to write something new!
Hold up, just because your book is done, that doesn’t mean the fun ends here. This book is brand new to many people for months – if not years – and you are the face of the novel. If you don’t do anything to get it out there, no one will ever know about it. Let’s discuss what to do.
Why do I need to do book signings though, I can sell books online?
Yes, you can sell books online and there are authors who have found plenty of success doing this. There are also a lot of authors who haven’t found success doing strictly online sales. Having a physical presence helps readers and potential fans get to know the mind behind the book. People love behind the scenes – think about DVD releases for movies.
When you’re at a book signing, someone comes up and wants to know about the book – so you pitch it to them. They like it, they buy it, and have you sign it – they are thrilled. They invested their time and money to get to know you and the impression you leave on them is going to last. These types of fans are known as champion fans, they’re the ones that have gone out of their way to get to know you. These fans also tell their friends about your work and they’ll tell their friends and so on. Champion fans are fantastic ways to promote your book and the best way to find them is to be in the public.
Pitch the book? Talk to people? but I am antisocial!
Yes, as most authors are, hence the stereotype. Ultimately it comes down to practice, this topic gets into sales, pitches and learning to convert leads into sales – a much bigger discussion for another blog post. For book signings, you don’t need to be constantly trying to convince people to learn about your book, that is nagging. Be friendly, be approachable and treat people with respect.
Where to Begin with Book Signings
Okay, now that I’ve convinced you that you need to do book signings, let’s chat about where you begin. If you have publicist, agent or publisher, you may have some people working with you to lead you to success. You also may be entirely on your own, which is an entirely different ballgame.
Plan in Advance
Book signings are done in retail stores, which are bookstores, they plan in months and seasons. So, you can’t want to do a book signing next week and expect a store to give you a day. Think about two to three months in advance when you are talking with a book store.
Now that you are time travelling in the future with your mind, when do you want your signing? What time of day? That is part of the joy of planning ahead. Usually weekends are a good time to have a signing and weekday evenings.
You want your work to be taken seriously? Act serious. That is how you get a book store to want to have you at their location and even return for second book signings. Dress well, speak well and have your contact information available.
Alright, so you’re being professional, and you’re prepared in advance, time to talk to people! One old school way of contacting book stores is going to their store and asking to speak to the manager. This works great if you are in the area. The approach of asking for a manager also applies to talking on the phone. Use the phone method more often since you can’t go down to every store you wish to have a signing at. Save the in-person approach if you really want to make an impression.
Once you’re speaking to the manager, ask if they are interested in book signings and inform them about the type of book, genre and age range that it falls under. More often than not they will say no, but some will say yes and they will ask for additional information to book the signing. This is where business cards come in handy so you can continue the conversation.
Professionalism – Your author platform
Professionalism is so key! It applies to your physical presence and your online presence which is your author platform. It is your online presence which encompasses your social media, your website, your book sales, newsletter, etc. This needs to be as professional as you are in person. Everyone searches online now and when you make that first contact with a manager, chances are they are going to google you to find out more about you and your work. Make sure it is how you want to be represented to the public.
Keep Track of Stores and Managers
For each store you approach, keep a notebook or spreadsheet about which one you went to, who you talked to and their contact information. This can come in handy especially if you want to do returning book signings.
The tips above will help making your first contact with booking a signing. Next we will chat about the actual signing. What are the do’s and don’ts at a signing?
Do you have any other experiences with organizing book signings? Other thoughts? Share in the comments.