Online Writer's Conference 2003

Shades Of Romance Magazine

August 3-9, 2003















How To Make Your Book Signings Sizzle!


Nathasha Brooks-Harris


You've written the great American romance novel, sold it to a publisher and now have a publishing deal. If you think the hard work is over, you're so wrong because the real work is just beginning. After a brief time trying to sell copies, writing that novel will seem easy--almost like child's play.

One of the best ways to sell your novel is through in-store book signings. However, they are not as glamorous as they appear and should be regarded as work. Why, then, do authors do book signings? Very simply, they sign books to establish good relations with readers and bookstores.

During my signings at various events and stores, I have learned a number of things that have proven to be successful, resulting in increased book sales. Now, I'd like to share them with you.

Always ask to sign with another author--one with whom you get along. Don't sign with an author who has an overbearing or egotistical personality because you'll not sell many books. Your personalities should be comparable or complementary, assertive and professional.

Don't sit down at a table waiting for readers to come to you. Go to them and greet them with your book in hand. Place your book in their hands because that establishes ownership and psychologically, that makes it harder for them to give it back to you. Please keep in mind that your book signing is not the place to be shy. You must become a "people person" if you're one naturally.

Create a gift basket or something you can raffle off. Readers love to get something literary-related for free!

Place a bookmark, recipes or a flyer inside of the book. Readers like that and it helps keep your name in front of them when they're at home and away from you.

If you're committed to sign for let's say, two hours, stay there even if you have sold all of your books. Thank the readers for coming and turn them on to your author friends' books. Spread the good will around and help them get some sales. If you've enjoyed reading those books, some of the readers will, too!

Bring an 11" x 17" laminated cardboard poster of your book cover. Make sure that it has an easel back so that it can stand on the table--just to the side of your books. Decorate your table with items "seen" inside of your book, a beautiful tablecloth, etc. After all, presentation is important and will attract people to your table. Once they're there, work it! Sell them your book.

When there's a lull in business at your signing, face your books out on the shelves so that the front covers are seen. Be nice and do the same for some of your author friends' books.

If you have any books left over, offer to sign stock. The bookstore might have special customers who are frequent buyers but who might have a schedule conflict on the day of your signing. They would appreciate a signed copy of your book. In many cases, the bookstore owners ask you to sign several books for preferred customers.

Take photos with the bookstore personnel and readers. However, make sure that your book is seen prominently in the picture.

One way to attract readers to your table is with food. If you have food depicted in your book, utilize it as a marketing item at your book signing. I usually put Hershey's Kisses (with and without almonds) in a pretty bowl or basket on my table, You better believe that gets people to come over and once they do, they're mine! At that point, I begin my spiel and sell my book!

By now, you should have garnered some professional book reviews. Laminate them and show readers what reviewers have said about your book. That will pique their interest in your novel as well as legitimize you as an author.

Many authors give professional writing seminars as a way to make extra money and as a good marketing technique to promote their books. If that is the case, it serves them well to go to the local bookstore and invite the Community Relations Coordinator (CRC) for free. That's not only wise business, but may also garner a book signing opportunity.

Realize, before you do a book signing, that you may or may not sell a lot of books. If you do, great; but if you don't, that's fine, too. At least you would have left behind a professional, positive presence if you did your best and tried to push your book. Thank the appropriate people and leave. Better luck next time.

Personalize your book signing by giving a mini-talk or brief presentation. Not only will that attract people to your table, it'll give you credibility as being the right person to have written the book. Have handouts (based on what you spoke about) ready for distribution at the end of your presentation. Please make sure to include your contact information.

Always, always make sure that the bookstore has your books available for sale as well as promo items such as flyers ready for giveaway as well as posters hung strategically throughout the store. You might also want to bring some bookmarks, postcards and other items you might have on hand. There should be something in and around the bookstore promoting the fact that you'll be doing a book signing there.

Bring some extra books so you'll have them on hand just in case the store's shipment doesn't arrive in time. Things happen and you wouldn't want to be left without anything to sign. However, make sure that your sales are reported and are counted toward your royalties.

Finally, don't hesitate to bring along a guestbook for customers to sign. You'll begin to build up a database of book lovers and creating an online newsletter wouldn't be a bad idea. Once it's created, contact them and ask if they'd like a free subscription. Then, be diligent about sending it to them.

The only other advice I have is for you to please utilize any of the above tips and apply them to your own book signing. Go to it, authors, and do your best. Happy book signing, one and all!