Friday, June 19, 2009

Meager Book Signings

If you have a book signing/talk at a store and five people show up (a homeless guy, your best friend, and a woman with two kids), is it total waste of your time?

Depends on what you did with the situation. Maybe you drove 200 miles to get to the store and sold only one or two books. That's not fun and you spent more than you made, for sure.
But it's still not necessarily a bust.

Book signings are not just about book sales and/or attendance.

They are also about meeting booksellers and Community Relations Managers (those people who set up such events).

Even if you didn't draw a crowd or sell many books, they may book you again got to know them, helped with the mailing list to promote the event, were polite and pleasant, offered to sign stock, sent promotional materials ahead of time, and let them know you appreciated the work they did on your behalf, no matter the results of those efforts.

Maybe someone in the store will even turn your books face out or write an in-store recommendation and hang it on the shelf in front of your books. Maybe they'll hand-sell it when a customer asks for a recommendation in your genre.

Maybe they'll give you the contact information for a sister store in another city. Or maybe they have recommendations for local places you could contact about teaching a workshop or events where you could sit in on a panel at a conference.

On some events (maybe even a lot) you may lose money and time and patience. But you can still make it a winning situation.
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  1. I went to a signing last Saturday because the author tweeted about it. There was no one there, except the author's cousin when I got there. I did buy 2 books and wrote a blog post about the signing and another one about one of his books. The author got a little extra publicity because he used social media well.

  2. If I had a book-signing at a store and five people turned up it would probably be the store manager and four cops, accusing me of vandalising their stock.

  3. Amen amen amen!!!!

    It's always my motto that SOMETHING good will happen, even if it's not a lot of sales. Visiting a store almost always leads to another opportunity elsewhere.

    And yes, authors forget that even more important than selling a bunch of books is developing a great relationship with the managers & employees of the stores.

    Right now, signings in stores are NOT a profitable venture, so we all need to go in looking for where else that opportunity may lead...

    L. Diane Wolfe

  4. I also consider signings as an opportunity to pass out bookmarks and flyers, in the hopes that the people that didn't buy that day may consider the book for a future purchase.

    JaneKennedySutton </a

  5. Thanks for this timely and good advice as I was about to ditch book signings altogether!
    karen walker

  6. "five people show up - a homeless guy, your best friend, and a woman with two kids"

    How did you know? That was exactly the turn out at my first signing. This hurts, Helen, exposing my failures in public like this.

    LOL - yup, it's all good, even if humble beginnings meet with your first efforts, ya gotta get out and network.

    The Old Silly From Free Spirit blog

  7. I did signings for years, traveled long distances (when gas was cheap), did radio and TV interviews and now I'm content to stay home and do my promos in my pajamas online.


  8. i did a signing once and only one person showed up. We got to talking about favorite authors and I mentioned Loren Estleman's Amos Walker series. The guy had never heard of him, so he bought one each of every Amos Walker title in the store. He didn't buy my book. When I saw Estleman at Bouchercon a few months later, I told him the story. He bought me a beer. How's that for a win?

    Mark Troy

  9. Great attitude! I think this is a brilliant way to see it.

  10. Wonderful post, Helen. Loved the stories, especially Mark's, as I tend to do the same thing -- pimp someone else's book that I love.

  11. One thing I do in bookstores to help friends is check to see if the store has their books in stock. If they do, I turn at least one face out.

    I know I'm more likely to pick up a book that's face out instead of spine out.

  12. I look at it as another avenue of networking and marketing. Some days you win, some days.... ah well. You made a contact, got out of the house, sold a book or two, hopefully positive strides. Network with the CR mgr never hurts.

    Nancy, from Just a Thought…

  13. Good points, Nancy. Sometimes just getting out of the house and doing something other than staring at the computer screen can be counted as an accomplishment. At least it does for me!


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