|By: Brent Sampson|
Book signings are the cornerstone of an author's post-publication foundation. But how do you set them up?
Organizing book signings, readings, and public appearances is one of the most important parts of a successful marketing campaign.
A book signing or reading is a bookstore event that features you and your latest book. This is your opportunity to meet potential buyers face to face. Plus it adds a personal touch to your promotion efforts. Many customers may feel more motivated to purchase a copy of your book if they hear it explained or read from your point of view. And the opportunity to get a copy signed by the author doesn't hurt, either!
Independent book stores and larger chain retailers both organize book signings. Your chances for finalizing an appearance are greater with the independents. They have to compete with larger chains and are therefore more willing to support local authors. In order to pinpoint potential book stores, check your local newspapers or see if book retailers in your area offer a "calendar of events" or post upcoming events on a public bulletin board.
By asking around for the owner of the store or the communications manager you can typically find the appropriate person with whom to discuss your event. In many cases, both the large and small retailers will have their events planned weeks or even months in advance. Plan early.
When you have a list of people and/or stores you plan on contacting, prepare your pitch. Have a small script that outlines what your book is about and why people would be interested in meeting you or reading the book. The store manager or PR person will most likely ask. If your subject matter is timely, all the better! Remember, this is the point during which the store manager or book buyer will be screening your presentation skills, either over the phone or in person. If they are not captivated by your presentation, they will have very little faith in your ability to captivate a crowd. Be extroverted and dynamic.
It also helps to be concise. Understand that these are busy people. You want to sell them on your event fast. Have your press release and/or sell sheet ready. It's helpful in case they ask for a copy or if they ask about specific information about the book. They may want to know the retail price, the retail margin, and the ISBN number immediately so they can order a review copy themselves prior to deciding. Advise them of the publication date after which they can order the book wholesale through the Ingram or Baker & Taylor databases, or retail from your own webpage address. Provide them with your URL. They might be impressed enough by your initial marketing initiatives to go forward with the book signing.
Offer to help them with promotion. Especially if you're targeting smaller book stores, they will be more interested in offering to host an event if they know you will be absorbing some of the burden of marketing it. Tell them all your friends and family will be attending the event (and then make sure to invite your friends and family!), and if it's within the scope of your marketing budget, offer to advertise in the local paper at your expense. Remember, the easier it is for the book store, the more likely they'll say yes.
Follow-up with prospective book stores who have not confirmed dates. Selling yourself and your book is a number's game, and as any salesperson will tell you, the amount of contact is directly proportionate to the amount of sales. So be persistent without being annoying. If, after three or four unsuccessful attempts with a particular store or person, move on to another prospect.