You’ve finally made it into the upper echelon of the writing world: you’ve gotten your first book published and now it’s time to undertake a promotional tour that includes interviews, readings, and of course, book signings. Although you may not be very well known yet, and therefor worried about people showing up, you can definitely take steps to hedge your bets and ensure that your parents aren’t the only people who show up to have you sign their copy of your book. The publisher will likely take care of most of the publicity, but here are just a few things you can do to make your signings a huge success.
1. Social networking. If you aren’t already on Facebook, Twitter, and industry networking sites, sign up and get some followers. You should also set up a website. From there, you can likely draw a group of friends by link-sharing with related sites and posting excerpts of your book on all of your forums as a way to tantalize your audience and get them running out to buy your book. Advertise well in advance for signings so that fans have plenty of time to plan. You might even want to do giveaways (like a copy of your book to the first 20 Twitter followers that show up and reference your tweet).
2. Hit your demographic. You need to know your audience before you start advertising. Whether you’re catering to lonely housewives, gamer geeks, YA readers, or those who prefer highbrow literature, knowing who you’re targeting can help you to determine where and how to advertise. For example, you wouldn’t put an ad for your upcoming book signing in an issue of Maxim if you’re demographic is mainly female. And doing a spot on a morning show in L.A. to plug your signing is useless if it’s not syndicated to San Francisco, where the gig is actually occurring.
3. Choose the right locale. It pays to do your homework when it comes to signings. If you end up in a bookstore that is not attached to a busy shopping center or street, then you may find yourself staring out a window and wondering where all the people are. Even if you only draw a small crowd initially, foot traffic could mean a swelling tide of patrons once people realize that an event is happening. Work with your publisher to make sure they’re not sticking you in some out-of-the-way venue.
4. In-store advertising. Most people who are avid readers will frequent the same book store. So if you want to get people who come to the store to come in while you’re signing, make sure that in-store advertising has been arranged.
5. Be nice! You’re not a rock star, so don’t let your inner diva go into overdrive. People who show up at your book signing probably already like you (or at least your writing). That means you don’t have to work too hard to endear yourself to them. But you do need to be polite and play up your public persona. In addition to writing personalized inscriptions, you should take compliments with a smile, pose for photos, and even pretend to be interested when people start to tell you how your book has changed their life. Don’t worry about rushing your fans along – that’s what your handlers are for. Try to make each person feel special and you’ll have a devoted fan-base for life.