Monday, December 21, 2009
How about booksignings?
Let me change hats and put on my author hat:
I consider book signings to be PR. They seldom produce significant sales. I generally set up a large placard announcing that I am signing books (you’d be surprised how few people “get it” if I don’t). By the time I do a signing I have tried to lead it with radio and newspaper interviews and emailed or mailed any actual contacts I have in the community. I stand pretty much the entire time greeting people at the door and giving them free bookmarks. I prefer to have them at a store that will allow me to sell backlist on consignment in addition to the current books the store has gotten. ( I also have copies of those with me in case theirs don’t get in which happens or in the happy case that they didn’t get enough and I sell out). But with all that if I cover expenses it’s a pretty good day.
Doing a program is different. I like to go to a store that will advertise that I am doing one of the programs that I offer and that I will be available to sign books afterward. These produce much better results and I’ll generally pick up some impulse buying from the store as well. But I do many more of these at libraries or schools than I do at bookstores and the results are much better. Even better still is conferences and workshops. The big conferences I often don’t sell books so as not to compete with the conference attendees. But the smaller conferences, particularly if it is a workshop where I’m presenting alone or with just a couple of people, the book sales are generally very good.
Finally I have to say there is an inverse relationship between the size of the town and the success of a booksigning or program. You’d think the bigger the better, but it just isn’t so at least my experience hasn’t been that. I often go to very small towns, and where I may just be another signing or event in a big town, in a small town I am a very rare celebrity. I’ve sold several hundred books in these cases, done multiple programs, and just in general have had a ball. I heartily encourage you to seek out and pursue opportunities to go to very small communities. In ALL cases it works best if you have a local person, hopefully as well known a local person as possible, serving as your “local chairman” and helping turn out a crowd for you. Such a person can take it VERY PERSONALLY if people do not come and I have had them sitting there running the battery down on their sell phone trying to make sure it happens. People called out in this manner almost always buy a book.
I’m busy now trying to set up school, church and library programs around the actual workshops and conferences I have scheduled. I try to work weekdays for my clients. I try to work Saturday or weekends for my own writing career.