Thursday, February 6, 2014

Post-Release Post #6: Signings and Events

I've been to a half dozen signing events in the last year.  The most successful one was the FCF launch where I unloaded 155 paperbacks.  The least successful one was at a farmers' market on the hottest day of the year when I sold 2 books.  Everything else was in between.  What I've found is that bookstores don't really want authors.  Our local, neighborhood indie bookstore, in spite of being touted in our local, neighborhood paper for their "outreach" with local authors, actually told me, "Authors aren't a big draw".  (I guess people only go to bookstores for the coffee these days.)  Unless you've been on television or you have some crazy gimmick or you can bring someone famous with you, bookstores are not author-friendly.  Some have restrictions on signings based on your book's return status.  Others want a larger percent of the sales than either you or the publisher get which doesn't make it worth doing for anyone except the bookstore.  Because of all of this, I've actually avoided bookstores which is kind of sad. However, I've found plenty of other opportunities to have signing "events".



Events are a mixed bag, but what I can absolutely tell you for sure is unless you are throwing a launch party and you've already got a known quantity of RSVPs, you don't need that many books.  At this point I wouldn't bring more than 20 books to any signing event.  Bring lots of bookmarks and swag though because 9 out of 10 people who stop to check out your book ask, "Is this available for Kindle/Nook?"  As my husband said at my last event, if they don't buy it here today, you want them to buy it somewhere, so send them on their way with a bookmark and assurances that the book is also available as an ebook. (I unload a LOT of swag at events.)



What I can also say, and this is something I've heard from a lot of authors, is don't say no.  Unless it is massively inconvenient for you and costly, don't say no to any opportunity offered.  Especially if you're just starting.  You never know what kinds of other opportunities will arise from going to things that seem to have no value at all.  Even if you don't sell any books, connecting with potential readers, reviewers and other authors is always worth it.  I have not said no to anything this past year except for one or two things where I was ill or I had a family obligation that could not be set aside, and I've always, always, always come away with another opportunity.


How about you guys?  Have you had any signing experiences?  What were they like?  Tips?

6 comments:

  1. Our bookstores here aren't very author friendly either. That seems counter-productive to me. And yes, most people do ask about eBooks.

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  2. Was just reading on another site how Jodi Picoult never said no to anything she was invited to when she first started out. It's a good tactic, because people are more apt to want to read something by someone they feel a connection to.

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  3. I am only now starting to warm up to the idea of doing signings. I actually told someone I was a writer this weekend. Baby steps.

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  4. I do a signing at my local book store when a book launches. It's always the same people, but that's all right. They are golden and it's my way to bring them food and say thanks. Other than that, unless someone asks me to come, I don't actively solicit signings. But yes, I will go wherever I am invited...even a book club with three people. Readers are readers and I love them!

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  5. I've only ever done one signing that wasn't part of a writing conference, and it was in Toronto, so a good chunk of family and friends came out to see me. I'd like to be more proactive about it, but it's so hard to juggle writing with promoting! Something I still struggle with.

    155 books in one signing! WOW!

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  6. Question--when you're at the Farmer's Market and you sell a book, how do you accept payment? Do you have a card reader for your phone or do you just take cash? I've been invited to attend a school spring carnival and I've noticed with most events you don't have to worry about payment because it's a bookstore and they pay at the cash register.

    It's funny--last night I was at an author event where more than 100 people showed up. She had a lot of friends and she had been very active in SCBWI here, so it was mostly SCBWI people...I spoke to the woman who does the store's event planning and she said they prefer to only do events where the author can get at least 25 people. She said that's mostly because the author usually doesn't want to sit there for an hour or two alone!

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