Do the words “book signing” terrify you? Fear not! I thought writing The Circle of Friends the best part until I began making public appearances — now I cherish getting out and meeting the readers. As a book signing road warrior (150 stores in 2 years), I would like to offer you a few fresh ideas to help get your campaign off the ground.
Before you start your book signing adventures, I recommend reading a few books to help you hone your interpersonal skills (useful when dealing with store managers and the media).
When you are ready to begin prospecting for venues to sign in, research every bookstore in your state. Once you create your signing strategy, open your calendar and start making calls. When I get the manager or owner on the line, I give them my pre-planned “commercial.” I tell them my name, book title and genre, a brief description of my book, and finish by asking what information they require to consider an author for a book signing.
Many managers simply have asked for my ISBN and booked me on the spot, while some ask for additional information. For those that request printed information, I send my sell sheet, business card, sample reviews and a cover letter in the mail. I always keep track of every contact and I follow-up within a week to set up a signing time. When I call back, many accept my request. A few pass on the opportunity. Don’t be discouraged if you receive a negative response. Politely thank them and go on to the next call.
Before the Signing:
With the date set, I send the store bookmarks and a poster or flyer for promotions. Then I conduct media research. I contact the features department of the local newspaper and producers of radio and TV news programs. (You’ll find that many stations are eager to feature someone interesting!) Many media sources have online event listings, so request that your appearance be listed. If you have a Web site, update the information too. I keep the bookstores abreast of all the articles and appearances so employees become excited about the signing as well.
At the Signing:
I have one rule: never sit! Roam the store, greet customers and place either a copy of your book or a signed bookmark in their hand. Set up colorful posters, a copy of your press kit, bookmarks and a big bowl of sweets on your table. Consider taking pictures of the individuals who purchase your book to make the event memorable. When the signing is finished, give each employee a signed bookmark and autograph any remaining books. Let them know that you appreciate any hand selling that they do for your book. When I follow these steps, managers, without fail, ask me to return soon!
After the Signing:
Don’t forget the important step of sending a thank-you note to the store staff and those responsible for media coverage you receive. A thank you goes a long way, and you’d be surprised how many authors fail to complete this simple task. In the note to the bookstore, I always include photos taken of the staff at the signing so they remember the day.
Note details of the signing for future reference. Touch base with each store periodically through updates and press releases. This past holiday season, each one of my contacts received a Christmas letter. When the press release went out for my second book, I sent a Valentine. These little touches assure future signings for the remainder of my series, The Circle of Friends.
Marketing and promoting a book requires a tremendous amount of energy, effort and research. My publishing representative recommended books & websites, and I’ve embraced every suggestion along the way, determined to overcome all obstacles and rise above average. I’ve poured all of my enthusiasm into every recommendation because this is my dream. If you haven’t already, go after yours!
Meant to inspire as well as entertain, L. Diane Wolfe‘s books have been described as “encouragement personified.” Her series, The Circle of Friends, focuses on the pursuit of dreams and the overcoming of obstacles. Despite the current salacious trend in young adult/adult titles, The Circle of Friends features positive, moral tales. Proving her series can compete with any book on the best seller list, the author tours extensively, making a hundred appearances and media interviews every year. Wolfe also does speaking engagements, using her story and the character’s experiences as an allegory for overcoming obstacles. Originally from Oregon, she currently resides in North Carolina. Current books in the Circle of Friends series include: Lori : Book I, Sarah : Book II and James : Book III. http://www.thecircleoffriends.net