You released a book, and the crowds are going wild. They all want your autograph and are beating down your door to get it. Or… you launched a book, and a few people mentioned they would love to buy a signed copy. Either way, sounds like you need to do a book signing!
As authors, many of us prefer to hide behind our computer screens rather than face the crowds. Maybe we’re shy, or maybe we’re afraid the book signing will be a flop and we’ll look sad and lonely at a table stacked high with unsold, unsigned books.
Don’t worry! Here are some tips to ensure your book signing is fun and profitable:
1. Secure a location. I recommend a local bookstore (one that carries your book, obviously) or a bar. Call them up and ask if you can bring paying customers on a slow night, like a Tuesday. I’m pretty sure they’ll say yes. If you select a small venue, then it will look crowded even if only a few people show up.
2. Pick a time. You probably don’t want to be there more than about two hours. If you’re just signing books, that’s plenty of time. If you’ll be doing a reading from the book or some other sort of activity (Q&A, etc.), you can go longer.
3. Promote it. Mention the event on your blog/website and social media. Tell friends and family. You can design a simple flyer to post online, and if you have the budget you can print it and leave a stack at the venue (with permission) about a week in advance.
4. Team up. Know any other authors in your area? Team up so you have twice the promotion reach. And you’ll have at least one person to talk to, even if no one shows up. If you’re in a multi-author book, like an anthology, see if any of the others live near you and can do a joint-signing.
5. Prepare your blurbs. Plan in advance what you will write. Have you ever inscribed a book before? Nothing causes writer’s block like trying to come up with a witty sentence on the spot! Come up with a few ideas beforehand that you can customize to the person. For example, my first book is called “Confessions of a Paris Party Girl,” so I often write things like “Next time you’re in Paris, the wine is on me.”
6. Prepare your elevator speech. People will inevitably ask what your book is about. Be prepared to give a 30-second description of your book—one that will cover the basics and not bore them to death. For my book I would say, “It’s a memoir about my first few years in Paris, where I started out partying—a lot—but eventually settled down and met the man of my dreams.” Caught unprepared, I might be more likely to say something stupid like, “It’s about Paris and partying.” Duh, they know that from the title!
7. Keep costs down. Unless you’re a huge star (just wait, it will happen soon!), you probably won’t get more than a handful of people showing up. Some of them will have already bought the book. So it’s quite possible you’ll make one sale. Or maybe you’ll make 30! Who knows? But to ensure the event is profitable, limit your costs. No need to spring for food or drinks—if you’re at a bar, schedule your signing during happy hour, and people can get a great deal on their own. Make a simple sign with your book’s cover and title, and text saying “BOOK SIGNING,” and slide it into a reusable stand. No need to waste money on a custom-printed big sign that you won’t ever be able to use again. If you have an 8.5 x 11-sized sign and your books laid out on the table, people will get what’s going on.
8. Bring your business cards. People may be reluctant to buy on the spot or may not have cash on hand. No problem! Hand them your business card, and they can check out your website/blog and buy the book later.
You probably won’t sell 1,000 books at your first signing, but you can still have a great time interacting with fans and meeting other people. Good luck, and don’t forget your pen!
About the Author:
Vicki Lesage is an IT Director by day, writer by night. And a full-time nerd. She loves fondue, wine, math, and zombies. She lives in Paris with her French husband and rambunctious son. Her first book, Confessions of a Paris Party Girl, is a humorous account of the ups and downs of her life in Paris. She's currently working on a baby-focused sequel, in between chasing her son and downing massive amounts of coffee.