Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Book Signings Author Survey

When polling authors about book signings, I got several responses. So, in their own words, I’ll let them tell you what they do.

One thing I've learned about book signings is to not just sit there but to get out in front of the table and talk to people. That's not easy for an introvert. But if you get people talking by asking them what they like to read, they will end up buying a book quite often. I'm amazed that you can have "Meet the author" signs up and people will still, "Oh, you wrote these books." – Vickie McDonough

I love doing book signings with other writers. It allows me to sell their books and introduce them to my writer friends. It also makes the slow periods more fun, because you have folks to talk to. I also send out emails, postcards, post it on my blog, etc. to help the bookstore publicize it. – Cara Putman

One of the best things to do is recruit other others to sign with you. When there are multiple authors – or just one other – there's not only someone to talk to during the lulls, but also there's a greater chance of snagging a reader. I like to do a workshop to go along with the signing. It seems when I speak on writing, I do the best signings because most of them are avid readers as well. Bookstores are thrilled to get that sort of event and often will order extra copies of Sally Stuart's guide and a few other writing books for me to recommend during the course of the workshop. – Kathleen Y'Barbo

I always try to contact the newspapers in the medium sized towns where I have my signings. Very often they'll do a story. In fact I've been delighted with the extent to which newspapers will publicize a book signing. A lot of smaller newspapers are looking very hard for content to hold the ads apart in their publication. I also try to personally contact the people I know in those towns to invite them and ask them to spread the word at their church, maybe put up posters. I personally phone the book stores ahead of time with just a "Hi, confirming that we have the same time and date. What do you want from me? A speech? How do you usually handle signings?” Just to touch base, make sure they've got my phone number and email addy in case they've got any questions or ideas. – Mary Connealy

One thing I like to do is have a giveaway basket that people sign up for. I have on the signup sheet a place to check if they do NOT want to receive my newsletter and that way I increase my database of contacts as well. It's also an excuse to call people over and engage them in conversation. They often end up buying a book when they were planning on walking on past. LOL I also send out a newsletter post about upcoming signings. It's also more of a draw if the author speaks rather than just signs. A panel with other authors is usually very effective. A banner proclaiming that the person is the author helps. So many people think it's a store employee just sitting there. I also have candy and offer it to them. For some books I've had a book trailer playing on a TV by my table and that is an interesting way to engage the browsers in conversation about the book. Having the store send out postcards or eblasts really helps. Or having them offer the books at a discount. – Colleen Coble

I do a short (usually 30 minutes) Fiction Writing Q & A before my book signing. It's fun, informal, yet for people aspiring to write fiction/be published in fiction, it's informative. No pressure on me, though. If I don't know the answer, I just say, I don't know. Most everyone (usually a big crowd) stays for the book signing and buys books. – Christine Lynxwiler

Since I have chronic foot problems, I can't stand the entire time. I ask for a stool (or take my own folding stool along). This enables me to sit "tall" beside the table instead of "low" behind it. I can get up and talk to people or sit and smile while I sign. Another tip – don't make the table too cluttered. Several stores decorated with a "bridal shower" theme for my Maine Brides book signings. It confused people about what we were doing, since the decorations had nothing to do with my historical stories. Books are the main thing, not cake toppers and champagne flutes. – Susan Page Davis

Below are some ideas that came from an author loop that MaryLu Tyndall is on, so I don’t have the names of the contributors:

Unless you're actually busy signing books, don't sit down and just wait for people to come to you. Even those who are interested may be too shy. Stand up, smile at everyone, ask people questions, engage them in conversation whenever possible, (and of course you have a dish of candy for anyone, but especially to offer to young children, whose moms will come over with them). Then you tell them about your book. I like to be near the front door and nab people as soon as they come in. (Nab in a nice way, of course!)

For male shoppers, remind them of what a wonderful gift your book makes and how much women who like to read will appreciate it.

Use any props you have or make some. I have a Jane Austen action figure which comes with me to signings! I also have a hand-made (not by me) Regency bonnet and reticule, which are on display near my books.

Have bookstore managers set up displays of previous and similar books in the aisles near where people will wait in line to talk to you. I've also seen people bake treats that tie-in to their setting (e.g. Southern pralines, Amish cookies – though I'm not sure that would be allowed at MOA if that's the signing you're planning for).

I did a signing with Brenda Novak recently and she had a brilliant idea. She bought 20 copies of book 1 in her trilogy at the author's discount at Borders (20% off) and had an assistant stand at the door and offer the free copies to women who walked in. The assistant then told the customers they could buy books 2 and 3 and have them signed by the author. . .and pointed, "Right over there!"

You have to believe that your book is a blessing and that you are doing people a real service by bringing it to their attention. Those who love a good inspirational romance say they are tremendously blessed by my book, so I am confident in what I am doing.

So there you are. Doesn’t sound so intimidating now to commit that that bookstore signing, does it? Go for it!


david santos said...

Phelps, congratulations!!!
"08-08-08" Olympc Games!!!

Karen said...

Becky, great ideas! I need to bookmark this post.

Carrie Turansky said...

Thanks, Becky, for all the good ideas! This was very helpful. I have three book signings this fall, so I will plan to use several of these ideas.


Mary Connealy said...

There are some great ideas in here. Thanks for gathering them all in one place.