Last week, while on vacation with my family, I scheduled a book signing at a local, independent bookseller. Quarter Moon Books is located in Topsail Beach, North Carolina, and represents the very best in independent bookstores. Out of a quaint, yellow cottage, just steps away from the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway, Quarter Moon serves delicious hot and cold drinks, novelties, cards, souvenirs, and a fine selection of books and periodicals. The proprietor of the store, Lori Fisher, and her warm, friendly staff know the locals and their drinks by name, always have a good book recommendation, and make you want to come back each day.
My book store signings have gone very well, so I wanted to pass on some tips for writers for making the most out of them. Below are some hints and truths that I have found about book store signings that I hope will be of help to you.
Ask the book store what they are doing to publicize the signing, and ask how you can help. Blog about it, Tweet about it, Social Network it, send out an email update to your website mailing list.
2. Look Professional
It seems ridiculous to have to say this, but I’ve seen some crazy things on authors. You are a professional. Look the part. While a suit is not appropriate for a signing in a beach book store, neither are flip flops and a swimsuit cover-up.
3. Come Bearing Gifts.
Bring something for the book store owner or employees. They are doing you a favor by hosting you for the signing. A bottle of wine, a box of doughnuts, or a potted plant are just some of the items you can give to express your gratitude.
4. Be Prepared.
Bring a pen or two. Wear a name tag with the word “Author” under your name.
5. You’re Not Doing This to Make Money.
In a very unscientific poll I’ve conducted, book store signings average about two sales an hour. TWO. You will not get rich off of a book store signing. (If you went into writing for the money, you’re a nut, anyway.) What you are doing is making relationships with book store employees who can recommend your book. You are making connections with people you can’t reach in your immediate circle. You never know when you’ll meet a high school English teacher who wants to teach your book, a member of a book club, a local radio personality, or the mayor of your hometown. These people can help you to generate a buzz and get the word of mouth recommendations going that you need to sell books.
6. Bring Freebies.
Have bookmarks, business cards, pens, or other small items you can give away to people whether or not they buy your book. Make sure your website, blog, and contact info. are on the freebie. If someone takes home a book mark and uses it in something they are reading, they might just order a copy of your book from home.
7. Get Personal.
If you want to make a connection with your readers, you must be prepared to get personal. Notice something about your reader and use it as a conversation starter. Mention your kids, your dogs, your in-laws–anything that makes for good cocktail party conversation. Personal anecdotes and humor make you likable and approachable.
8. Mailing List.
Have a sign up sheet for people if they’d like to be included in your website mailing list updates. But don’t force the issue. You don’t want to be sales-y.
9. Send a Thank You Note.
Again, this seems obvious, but I don’t want to leave it out.
* * * *
Hopefully, you’ll have lots of book signing success if you follow these tips. If I’ve forgotten anything, please feel free to include it in the comments.