by Elizabeth S. Craig @elizabethscraig
Frequently, I’ll have an acquaintance or friend ask me if I’m planning to have a signing at one of the local bookstores. Or they’ll suggest a bookstore in another town that they’re familiar with.
I’ll always try to summon up some enthusiasm and a polite response, but usually I’m shrinking away a little. Signings are my least favorite form of promo.
The problems with signings:
It’s randomly targeted marketing instead of directly targeted. You’re basically just hoping that someone who walks into the store that day is interested in having a signed copy of any book.
The signing table that the store provides is usually not in a great spot.
You’re having to basically do direct sales. If you sit there mildly at your little table without saying a word, you likely won’t have any sales at all.
Making a tough situation better:
Don’t sit at the table. Stand up or even walk around a little.
Have something to do…handing out bookmarks is a good thing to do (and can be a conversation-starter).
Plan the signing in a good location. This could mean having it in the town you grew up in (where you still are acquainted with lots of people, but maybe they haven’t had the perfect opportunity to buy your book). This could also mean thinking outside the box and having the signing at a local craft fair or venue other than a bookstore.
Goodies for the bookstore staff are always popular.
Goodies for the shoppers are popular, too. You can just put a little basket of individually-wrapped candy on your table and many more people will come by. Some writers are especially clever and will have little tie-ins for their books attached their giveaway.
Before you leave your signing, ask the store if you can sign the leftover stock (and if they have some “autographed copy” stickers.)
Unless you’re a big name, signings are usually not the best way to sell a bunch of books (although I’ve done well at signings in the town I grew up in…because my mother drums up business among her friends!) Online promo is a free way to reach readers all over the world—who are interested in either you or the genre you write.
How do you feel about signings? Have any additional tips to share?