iUniverse’s Douglas Gardham, author of The Actor and The Drive In, has significantly bolstered his marketing presence through engaging in book signings, and recently reached the milestone of selling his 1000th book at a book signing. Here, Douglas discusses how he got involved in doing book signings and the benefits derived from such events.
My initial reluctance was really related to my own reservations and confidence. My thinking was that book lovers and constant readers go into a bookstore to find a book and a shelf to get away from the world for a while. Why would I want to interrupt such a fabulous pastime? I decided I didn’t.
Then a very fortuitous meeting, quite by happenstance, took place while visiting one of Canada’s national book chain stores. I was trying to find a way to get The Actor (my STARBook awarded novel) onto their bookshelves. The store manager confronted me with the question: “Why would we want your book on our shelves? Nobody knows who you are.”
Wow! And to think this hardwood head of mine actually heard what the book manager was saying. The Actor would take up valuable shelf space, and unless somebody knew about The Actor and valued its story, it was going to stay on the shelf hogging space that an otherwise known book might take. I had to find a way to change that. But as I said, this was a meeting of good fortune that changed everything for me and what followed.
The book manager asked me a question after a short exchange, perhaps seeing the glimmer of determination in my eye: “Have you thought about doing book signings?” I, of course with my naïve expertise, explained (whined) as to why I had decided not to do them. It wasn’t the way. The “magic” came from the manager’s next question: “Where else was I going to go and talk about my book and my work for a couple of hours, in a bookstore and—no guarantees here—possibly sell a couple of books?” I couldn’t answer that question. In fact it made so much sense that I booked my first signing there and then – technically not my first “signing”, but rather my first “booking”, eight months away. The reason for the date being so far out, as I later found out from the manager, was because he never expected to hear from me again.
All that is in the past now, after 75 book signings in our national book chain of Indigo-Chapters stores across Ontario and elsewhere in Canada. In fact, in July I reached the milestone of selling my 1000th book from a book signing.
While having no desire to become a “carnival barker” at the front of a bookstore, I figured if I could have professional career as an engineer and still become an author, I could likely find a way to become comfortable promoting my books. That comfort has mysteriously become love. I love talking about books and writing with almost anyone, but especially with book lovers and constant readers. Mix in my love of movies and music, and it’s a wicked combination of fun and discussion.
Signings may not work for everyone, but for me its great way to get in touch with readers and book lovers. Today it feels a little unfair, as I take away so much from the interesting people I meet at each signing. Many have touched my life in ways they’ll never know. As the great Stephen King once said, “it all goes in”. But remember, none of this makes one iota of difference without first writing the book that you love.
I’ll talk more about how to actually book a signing in my next post.