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.
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.
Game. 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. 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.
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!