I recently read this post from a very successful writer that I know. He’s been on The Porch a few times. Frank Allan Rodgers. He does a lot of his own marketing and he had these suggestions:
I don’t schedule many signings at bookstores. I’ve done a few and have two upcoming at Barnes & Noble stores. I’m not excited about those because I don’t make any money after they take their 40%. I sign at bookstores just to build name recognition.
Book clubs have been great for me. I contact the person in charge by phone, email, or snail mail and give them a short pitch. I set up a time to attend one of their meetings, do a short reading, and sign books for buyers. The members are delighted to meet the author – they treat me like a mini celebrity – and almost all of them buy. And…book clubs typically have snacks, and sometimes a full meal. I LOVE BOOK CLUBS.
NOTE: When you pitch your books make sure you let them know your book is NOT self-publihed. I don’t mean anything negative by that, but many people prefer to deal with authors who are traditionally published.
Libraries have been good for me also. I go there, talk to the person in charge, and offer to schedule a signing event. I donate a book to the library as a thank you. They publicize the event in the newspaper and on their email list and website.
I write westerns, so I focus on events that attract potential readers. Fairs, rodeos, outdoor events of all kinds often work well. I shared a booth at a local artist event (called Mecca Fest) last fall. I sold out, 19 books, and wished I had more. I had a signing in the gift shop of a large western-art museum during their annual cowboy symposium. Big crowd. I sold lots of book and at the end of the day, the gift shop bought ten copies to stock.
Private businesses can be great also. A pizza restaurant held a special signing event on a Saturday evening. They treated my wife and me to a meal, brought in a live band, and made me the celebrity guest of the evening. They had promoted the event on radio, on line, and newspaper ads. Another big crowd. I don’t remember how many books I had with me, but I left with only two.
Most businesses plan sales events during holidays. That’s when the crowds show up, and it’s an ideal time to sell books. Car dealerships, garden supply stores, office supply stores, and most other retailers will welcome an author to help pull a bigger crowd. My biggest single sale day was at a real-estate office. The broker plugged the event on the marquis sign for a week ahead.
Fund raisers are good too. I offer to donate $2 for each book I sell.
For each event, I make up 11 X 17 custom posters for the host to display to announce the coming event. I put it together on the computer (with my wife’s help), store the file on a flash drive and take it to Staples. They’ll make 11” X 17” posters for $2 each on poster stock. I also plug the event on line, of course.
I have an 8-1/2” X 11” stand-up sign for my signing table that reads: Autographed books make great gifts that are often treasured for a lifetime. Several people bought more than one copy. One man bought 2 copies, and his wife sent him back for 4 more. Another man bought 10 copies just before Christmas.
Make sure you have high-quality, coated bookmarks that have a photo of your book cover, and your contact info – printed both sides. Put 2 in every book you sell (readers will keep them a long time). At the end of your signing, leave a handful on the counter for the host to offer as freebies.
To pull a bigger crowd, team up with another author or two who write in a different genre than you. They will also help promote the event.
I hope this helps. With effort in the right places, you can have more book signings than you’ll have time for. I have some information about free publicity too, if you’re interested. But I’ll shut up for now.
The new F-word in fiction
Many thanks to Frank for his ideas! I’ve tried many of them and they really do work. I recently sold 30 books at a craft fair just before Christmas! Find out more about Frank on my Porch Guests Page.