Tips for Your Next Book Signing
Writing can be a lonely affair. After all, it's just you, the computer and your imagination for hundreds of hours, creating characters and crafting a story. Writers tend to be introverts and daydreamers, so once the novel comes out, the whole process of promotion can seem intimidating. Getting out there and meeting the public might feel awkward, but it still needs to be done.
A book signing gives you the opportunity to meet potential readers, introduce yourself to your local community and build some buzz for your books. It also gives you the chance to sell a few copies. Here are a few tips to help you get more out of the experience.
You are not there just to sell books. In fact, you might not sell very many, particularly if you are a newer or unknown writer. It is important that you have something else to give to people, something free. Bookmarks are a great idea. Magnets or business cards will also work. They should include social media contacts, such as your website and Facebook page, so people can find you online. Put this freebie into the hands of everyone that passes by. Even if they don't purchase a copy of your book there at the signing, they might look you up online later.
Books signings can be lonely occasions. Sitting all by yourself in the middle of a bookstore while people wander past, trying to catch someone's eye, it's not something a lot of writers look forward to. If you are bit shy, a good idea is to team up with other local writers and have a joint book signing event. While there, you can cross-promote each other and provide encouragement. Also, multiple authors sitting together make the event look more significant and could draw more attention. It's a great way to promote the local writing community and the perfect event for a local or indie bookshop.
Have Realistic Expectations
When Stephen King does a book signing, he gets long lines out the door. However, that is not the norm and unlikely for an indie author. My first book signing was at a local Hasting's. In two hours, I sold ten books. Because of my own unrealistic expectations, I thought this was a really low amount, and I was disappointed. However, when I went to collect my money from the book manager afterward, she said, "Wow, ten copies is above average. At most book signings, people sell maybe two or three copies."
This is probably not going to be your big moneymaker, and that's okay! You are getting your face out there in public, associating yourself with the writing scene, meeting some people, hopefully getting your social media information into their hands, and maybe also selling some copies. If somehow you hit it big and attract a crowd, so much the better, but even if you sell one copy (or none) just remember, the event is still a success. You are getting out there and promoting yourself, and you should be proud of what you've accomplished.
It's Not Just about Readers
A book signing is not just about meeting potential readers. It's also about networking with the local writing community. That means getting to know the local booksellers, other writers, people in the media and artists. Don't just spend your time hard-selling copies of your novel. Take the time to meet people and get plugged in a little better with your local community. These contacts can help you down the road. Maybe you will find out about other events such as workshops and book fairs.
Don't Give Up
You're going to have some disappointing book signings along the way. It is inevitable. But don't give up. Being an author is a long-term commitment, and it takes time (possibly years) to build a committed readership. But it's worth it. After all, it's your dream.