Blank to 50K: How to DO a Book Signing

Once you’ve written your way to those first magical 50,000 words, then edited & polished to perfection, then published your book, it’s time to market. One way to get your book in front of people is to literally get in front of them.

Do a book signing.

NOTE: I did not say “host” a book signing. I did not say “have” a book signing.

I said DO.

A book signing should be interactive, involving your prospective readers. You will catch more customers if you are active and engaging. Carry through the theme of your book, either capitalizing on the title or a major component of your book. Here are some things I’ve done that worked, specific to my book, Denim & Diamonds:

Prepare: Take a flyer to the location so they can post it in advance of your event. Put your event on community calendars (think TV, radio, newspaper websites). Send postcards out to friends and family inviting them to the event. Notify local reporters – think of a hook they can use to create a story (give them a reason to talk to you!). Put flyers around the community and in your local library and local bulletin boards.

http://www.amazon.com/Denim-Diamonds-Lori-Robinett-ebook/dp/B00M8N210Y/Presentation. This means use a table skirt (I bought sparkly denim fabric), have some sort of centerpiece (I used three glass jars covered with rhinestone mesh, which held LED candles), and a display of giveaway items (I often give away items that feature my book cover & website: postcards, bookmarks and bite-size candy bars – more on that stuff later). Of course, make sure your books are prominently displayed. A small banner with your name is also helpful. I used my diecutting machine to make a banner of blue and silver diamond shapes which spelled out my name.

D&D Lisa won penGame. Have a game to draw people in. I made a game called “Pick Beau’s Pocket” with a big piece of core board, with nine back blue jean pockets (thanks to friends who donated their used jeans! BTW – you can see it in the bottom right corner of the pic at the right, with my friend Lisa, who was the first winner of a pen!). I used my diecutting machine to cut out diamond shapes. Some of them were marked “Winner” and some were marked “Sorry!”, then I laminated them, and stuck them in the pockets. I had this set up on an easel next to my table. I stood beside it and asked everyone who passed by if they wanted to play – no purchase required. Simple game – all they do is pick a pocket and pull out a diamond. One of the prizes was a $10 gift certificate to the bookstore (this is a good way to say thanks to the store for allowing you in – and it instantly gives them good vibes when you walk in and buy a gift certificate before you even set up), and I also like to give travel mugs and nice pens (I usually buy from Vistaprint). For those who get the “Sorry!” diamonds, I offer a consolation prize – a full-sized chocolate bar wrapped with a custom wrapper featuring my book cover on the front and my website address on the back.  I created the wrappers myself, and am happy to send anyone who’d like it a copy of the template.http://www.amazon.com/Denim-Diamonds-Lori-Robinett-ebook/dp/B00M8N210Y/ Just shoot me an email and ask for it!

Celebrate Sales. I offer to take a picture of every individual who buys my book, and offer to let them wear my cowboy hat or my giant fake diamond ring. Then I snap a picture on my phone and post it to Instagram, Facebook and Twitter with the hashtags #DenimDiamonds #LoriLRobinett. This creates interest on social media, and customers often end up then liking my social media accounts. You can even encourage them to post with a simple flyer on your table featuring the hashtags you recommend, to make them part of the action.Ericca - D&D signing

I create a Pinterest board for each of my books and I include things I want to do for book signings, such as foods, drinks, decorations and games.

Remember, a book signing is as much a celebration of your publication as it is a sales event. Think of this as a party.

Have fun, and success will follow!

Year End Review: Is Indie Publishing Worth it?

Credit: Prawny - PhotoMorgue

Credit: Prawny – PhotoMorgue

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking over the past couple of weeks. I always do that at the end of the year – review what I’ve done, plan for the upcoming year. This year, I did it under the guidance of the Your Best Year 2016 planner by Lisa Jacobs. It has been fantastic – easily the best money I spent this past year.

As part of my year end evaluation, I was curious about my accomplishments. When I bought the 2016 planner, Lisa included the PDF of the 2015 planner, which I began working through in the fall. One of the biggest a-ha moments for me was seeing that I do the same thing every year, and hope for improvement. Hope for success.

I’ve dreamed of being a writer for as long as I can remember, and my first book was published in 2014 by a small press. My second book was published in 2015, by my own micro press, Three Creeks Press (essentially, I’m an indie publisher).  As I worked through Lisa Jacob’s planner and reviewed the numbers and what I had been doing (which was essentially writing and hoping folks would find my books), I decided it was time to change – to treat my publishing as a business.

I was inspired to share my results after reading Lisa Medley’s blog post about her experience this past year. (as an aside, I wish more authors, indie and traditional, would share their results.) I met Lisa at ORACon a couple of years ago and have followed her progress, because I consider her a “real” author (I have always been, oh, so jealous, because she got “the call” from Harlequin! <drooling>). I know traditional authors have sharing restrictions because of their contracts, but am glad to see them at least discussing generalities, like Tawna Fenske did on her blog.

As I mentioned, my first book, Denim &Diamonds, came out in 2014. I’ve made about $200 on it, give or take. Yeah, not going to retire on that. I was so excited to get a publisher, and working with CaryPress has been a good experience, so I still consider it a success. My second book, Fatal Impulse, came out in 2015. At the beginning of 2015, my goal was to make enough to pay one small bill a month (I was thinking the water bill, which runs $20 – $25). (Yeah, I know. Not exactly reaching for the stars.)

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Here’s how Fatal Impulse has done this year – these are my royalties for each month:

March: $48.02

April: $18.36

May: $2.04

June: $22.24

July: $4.08

August: $0 (OUCH. this was my a-ha moment – I need to DO something!)

September: $74.49

October: $131.66

November: $224.64

December:  $2594.95

20160109_134026_resizedI know it’s a bit crass to discuss money, but I have to admit, throughout December, I proudly discussed royalties with anyone and everyone who would listen. I caught myself whispering numbers, prefacing it with “I know this is crass, but get this . . . ” To be fair, that money isn’t all profit. I’ve spent over $700 and 25% of those royalties go to taxes, but I’m damned proud of that book. It isn’t perfect, it has flaws, and it’ll never win any literary awards. It’s simply a story that banged around in my head since my first marriage 25+ years ago that I needed to get out. My hope is that it will entertain some folks, and that it’ll provide a bit of escapism for anyone stuck in a bad relationship.

But the fact that I am able to realize a profit from that is very exciting. And now that my next book is in edits, I find myself confident that indie publishing is for me. As my friends and family will tell you, I’m a bit of a control freak, so being able to change the book description and tags is a huge plus. It makes the book responsive to trends. I write the book, then subcontract the graphic design, editing, promotion. The role of authorpreneur fits me very well.

I’m thinking about putting together resources to share what I’ve learned to help others become successful authorpreneurs. If you’re interested, sign up for my newsletter (see sidebar) so you’ll get the news before anyone else.

And if you have tips, feel free to share them here.

And if you’re brave enough to share your own publishing results, I’d love to hear them. Feel free to email me if you want to remain anonymous and I’ll share those results in an upcoming post.