I went to support an author’s book signing the other day. She’s a friend of my sister. I went to high school with her brother, Ben, whom I haven’t seen in at least 25 years. The event was typical in that only a handful of friends and relatives showed up – and maybe a half-dozen random walk-ons. She may have sold a dozen books. It really wasn’t worth her time, when you factor in she’s getting a royalty and not the full amount collected. Plus, she had to travel from Brooklyn to get to the location in Manhattan and back. She might have gotten a thrill out of it, but the presentation, Q&A, and signing – as a matter of dollars and cents – didn’t pay off for her.
So what went wrong?
First, the event needs more promotion. You can’t just show up and think a crowd will automatically materialize.
Second, you need to list an upcoming event with local media and various websites so people can discover you.
Third, the event has to promise something more than just a full-priced book for sale. There needs to be an incentive offered. I suggest authors partner with a business or an organization and they hand out something of perceived value that benefits the sponsoring group and the author.
Fourth, social media needs to be employed in a targeted way so that people can learn about your event.
Finally, authors need to build massive lists of connections and to record the emails of everyone they’ve ever met. When the time is right, let people know about your schedule of events via email.
Book signings can and should be amazing. People come to hear an author talk about what he or she wrote and to provide an insightful look at how the book came to be and to define its significance Authors have a rare chance – with an appearance – to control the conversation and inspire others to read their work. Many reviewers talk about books and authors are interviewed by bloggers, but at a book signing the author can take command and deliver a passionate and conviction-driven speech that wins those in attendance over.
I remember doing book signings 20 years ago to promote my first book The Florida Homeowner, Condo & CoOp Association Handbook. They could be fun opportunities though I remember being nervous before each one. To meet your reading public is a little strange, writers don’t want to really meet their fans. They like to see book sales, reviews, and fan mail – but to meet fans is a strange scenario to the writer who’s more at ease with writing rather than holding a two-way conversation. Writers like to describe, dictate, and create; we don’t want to negotiate, which is what a conversation becomes.
On the other hand, book signings are like mini-weddings. It’s your special day and you feel honored. All eyes are on you. It’s your time to be center stage and to shine.
So go set up some speaking engagements – promote them and try to enjoy your day in the sun. You might even sell more than a dozen books.
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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at email@example.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015
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