I write a lot about online marketing tactics and how to maximize your presence on social media, your website, and Amazon. But today, I want to talk about something a little less virtual, and more reality-based. With Amazon beginning to open brick and mortar book stores, I’ve created a series to focus on how to pitch and plan a successful book signing. Here’s why these in-person events are still relevant: meeting people at a book signings brings a connection that virtual events cannot simulate. While I love doing video events, I am always eager to do something live; nothing can replicate the feeling of connecting to your audience and reader quite like a book signing!
In the first part of this series, we’ll be taking about how you can structure your signing to be a success, and understand what characteristics contribute to a successful event. Book signings are critical space for bookstores, and they need to do their best to ensure that if they bring you in, there will be some value-added for them (i.e., that the folks attending will buy your book as well as another title or two). One of the biggest reasons that bookstores turn down authors is because they aren’t confident that they will drive a crowd into a store. Keeping that in mind, here are a few tips to consider when pitching a store:
• Promote your event: Often stores have Community Relations Managers (Barnes & Noble has these) and while it used to be that each store had their own, now a single manager may manage five different stores' event calendars. These Community Relations Managers will organize all store events, and they are your best point of contact. Similarly, in independent stores, the store manager will often coordinate these. Regardless of who is managing this process, they are really busy. Make sure to emphasize in your pitch that you plan to aggressively promote the event to your local mailing list as well as to regional media.
• Don’t exhaust the local population: Bookstores shy away from hosting an author who has several local events close together, because they worry that you’ve exhausted the local audience potential for their store. When coordinating events, look for stores that are a reasonable distance from one another. I would say a 45-minute drive or more.
• Combine efforts: Some authors like to have another person at their signing to drive additional interest to the event. Having another person there will allow you to bring in more people, as a result of your combined publicizing efforts. It also allows you more freedom with what you can offer the people you bring in. For example, you can elevate a simple book signing into a book discussion or workshop, hosted by one author, while the other author is signing. It’s a great way to not only draw a crowd, but keep them engaged for longer. Often it’s easier to get publicity when there’s more than one author present.
This type of book signing works well for unknown authors if you have a specific program or want to have a book signing that lasts all day. Many bookstores now offer a night that celebrates new authors, so ask them if they do this, and how you can participate. Often you’ll find that they will pull together as many as seven authors. While this may seem like a lot, it’s really a fantastic way to drive a larger crowd to the event.
After you’ve successfully pitched the book store, here are a couple things to keep in mind:
• Picking a date: Pay periods should be taken into effect when you’re scheduling. I will always try to schedule mine around the 1st or 15th of the month. I live in a Navy town and since they never fail to get paid on those dates, it really helps to boost my sales.
• Bookstore newsletter: Check to see if the store has a newsletter. Offer to write a short article on your book or discussion topic that will draw more attention to your signing to be included in the store newsletter. Keep the article interesting and helpful without giving away everything you plan to share with your guests. Or, if you book is fiction, share an interesting excerpt from it.
A critical element of planning an exceptional book signing is learning how to structure a book signing to benefit you and your host. Now that we’ve discussed what you should do to construct a successful event, what comes next? In Part 2 of this series, we’ll discuss the marketing efforts and prep work you should complete to make sure everything runs smoothly on the day of your signing.
Penny C. Sansevieri, Founder and CEO Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. She is an Adjunct Professor teaching Self-Publishing for NYU.
Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most innovative Social Media/Internet book marketing campaigns. She is the author of twelve books, including How to Sell Your Books by the Truckload on Amazon and Red Hot Internet Publicity, which has been called the "leading guide to everything Internet."
To learn more about Penny’s books or her promotional services, you can visit her web site at www.amarketingexpert.com.