Book signings benefit three people:
- The Fan (reader)
- The Author (and the publisher a bit)
- The Bookstore
First, lets look at how each benefit from book signings.
The Fan or Reader
There is more to a book signing than simply showing up and getting a signature on a book.
Meet the Author – A book signing is a chance for you as the reader to actually meet the author and if you’re lucky enough for the bookstore to not be busy at the moment you are there – perhaps even have a more personal conversation with the author.
In many cases you will get a chance to see if the author is at all like their characters, which you may be surprised at the similarities. It also gives you a chance to ask the author questions you may be wondering such as: Where did you come up with xx idea? What inspired you to write? etc.
Photo Op – One other benefit that you and the author will enjoy is a photo opportunity. Most authors really enjoy connecting with their readers and enjoy getting photos with their readers. It is a chance for other fans to see that ‘yes, this person is real’.
Read on Author, Read on – Another less talked about aspect is the chance to possibly hear the author do a reading. Okay, at first this may sound a little strange… you sit around and listen to an author read some from their book. However, you may find it intriguing to hear an author read their own work. I can speak from experience in that I enjoy my characters I’ve created. I tend to give “voices” to them and provide a personality to them that you may not hear in your head when you’re reading it on your own.
Here are a few reasons that book signings benefit authors and some dos and don’ts for authors.
Publicize! – Probably the most obvious reason for doing a book signing is to publicize your work. You may not think that hitting one book store at a time will make a difference, but people talk. Word of mouth is probably your most powerful marketing tool. An author who is out there meeting the people who the book is reaching, is naturally more talked about than those who do not.
Inspire – Although I have only done a few book signings, at each book signing I have met other people aspiring to write who have stopped out for nothing more than inspiration. After all, you have achieved what they are dreaming to… You’re a published author! Say a little something to fellow writers, everyone’s writing is important. Do not be concerned with competition or anything silly like that. Everyone’s writing is different and in my opinion; EVERYONE has something to contribute to the world of literature.
At a recent book signing someone stopped out to let me know that her friend was starting out as a novelist and that it would mean a lot if I could write a little something to him. I was honored that she thought my words might make a difference (See: http://dougdutcher.livejournal.com/5066.html).
Photo Op – Pretty much the same reasons as I gave fans… it’s a chance for you to be seen as a real person as well have a few photos for your Facebook Fan Page or Twitter accounts.
Connect with Bookstores – Connecting with small bookstores is very important. Yes, there are the big guys like Amazon.com and Barnes and Nobles who are going to carry your book but may not give it much more shelf space than the latest copy of People Magazine. Small booksellers will promote you if you promote them. Talk about them, tell your fans about them and they in turn will be very happy to have you out for book signings and events.
Connect with Teachers – Something that you may not think about is the chance to connect with English and Literature teachers and professors. Yes, they too attend book signings. I recently had a teacher attend a book signing who wants to use “Ruins of the Mind” to teach his class about short stories. This means a couple dozen sales of my book as well as an opportunity for me to possibly speak to his class later.
Don’t sit at the table – Big, HUGE advice here. You are there to promote yourself and your book as well as the bookstore. Get up, go meet people, ask them what they are looking for and get a store representative to help you help them. Find out what the customers like to read and suggest your book. It can often surprise customers when you’re walking around and mention that you wrote “this book”. Nothing is more boring than an author who is just sitting there like a limp noodle with a stack of books around them. Get personal and be personable.
The Bookstore Owner
An author event may seem like a pain, some promotion, having to set up a table, posters, etc. However, it brings people in to your store and if planned right it will be beneficial for you and the author.
Promote – Promoting a book signing costs almost nothing for a bookstore (other than getting some inventory in for the signing). Most authors will send you photos, press releases and posters for free. If the author knows what they are doing, they will send you a ‘press ready’ press release that you can email off to your local newspapers and TV stations. My biggest advice here, bug your local press to put something in the paper or get a TV station down to your store. It may not sound like a big deal but the public loves a reason to get out of the house and if they don’t know about it, they won’t come.
Social network your author events in newsletters, on your bookstore’s Facebook page and on twitter.
As an author, I usually do a lot of the promoting of my book signings on my website, Facebook page, Twitter, LinkedIn, Goodreads, etc.
Get the most from a book signing
As a reader, attend it! Buy a book to show your support for your author and ask the author to say something personal. Talk to the author so they know a little bit about you, it will make the signing more personal.
As a book store owner, setup a small display of the book with a little poster of the author a few weeks before. Send out an e-newsletter. Talk to the press.