about writing and life and God

How to do a successful book signing

on April 14, 2015

A few days on from the book signing at Waterstone’s in Lowestoft and what have I learnt? England’s most easterly town may be publicised as the Sunrise Coast, but it can be freezing cold – and at the same time extremely warm in its welcome and support for local authors! What do I reckon are the important lessons?

  • Allow enough time time beforehand to do lots of publicity. You have to let people know you’ll be there signing books. And not just any people – the right people. Sorting out who your audience is and where to reach them to tell them takes time and effort. Do it. It’s worth it.
  • Overdo the prep: posters, bookmarks, postcards, business cards, goodies including sweets. People like presents. And a present with your name on and a bit about the book (especially title and price) will reinforce their encounter with you and maybe sell another copy.
  • No matter how scared you are or how totally reclusive and introverted you are, you gotta smile and reach out to the people who turn up on the day – even if they didn’t come to see you. Smile and say hello. Offer a freebie. Hand them a copy of the book. Talk about it… Force yourself.
  • Talk to the staff in the bookshop. People who work with books are, by definition, lovely people so they’ll be a joy to chat with. But these are the people who know what’s currently selling, what doesn’t work. If you’re self-publishing, they know what kind of covers work. They know how other local authors are selling their books. They’re a goldmine of priceless information and they are amazingly happy to share it! Use the quiet times to chat to them. And who knows? They might like you enough to invite you back!
  • Refuse to be disappointed! Here’s where the British stiff upper lip really helps! On Saturday, most of our customers turned up in the first hour – then the skies turned black, the wind howled down the street, the rain sluiced down – and the streets – and the bookshop – emptied! The shop staff apologised – but it wasn’t their fault! And at the end of the day, I reckon the sales were perfectly respectable (better even!).
  • Bring provisions – food that won’t create sticky fingers, and drinks. Just in case. Our lovely shop provided coffee and chocolate biscuits! Thank you!
  • Decide if you really can do it alone or need a stalwart friend to come with you. I’m grateful to my friend Val who accompanied me and tactfully left me to get on with it, returning to my side during the lulls.
  • People – amazingly – really want their books signed by you, the author. Bring – or as in my case – borrow – a nice pen. It just looks so much better!
  • Say thank you – to the people who buy books, who come to talk to you, who turn up,the people who helped on the day in the bookshop, who did publicity for you. ‘Thank you’ costs nothing – and builds goodwill. Who knows?One day you may write and publish another book and have to do this whole thing all over again!

One response to “How to do a successful book signing

  1. Viv says:

    I’d also add, make sure that your website/blog has an easy-to-find page for your own books. It took me quite a while to find the page here that contains details of your book. Perhaps it might be a good idea to change the category from *BOOKS* to *MY BOOKS*, because at first I assumed it was just about books in general.
    I lived in Lowestoft for 6 years so I know those icy cold winds very well, rattling our single glazed windows and blowing me halfway across the North sea every time I took the dog out.
    Glad the event went well.

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