iUniverse author Douglas Gardham, whose The Drive In and The Actor continue to receive acclaim, gives us Part Two of his very helpful tips on book signings.
Book Signing – A Gift to Authors
You’ve made the decision. Book signing it is. Congratulations! It’s a courageous step forward. Don’t look back, but I warn you it’s only the beginning. And the courage part has just begun. We’ll get to that in Part Three. But now, lets get to booking and preparing.
In Part One, I spoke about booking a signing after that first meeting. It wasn’t my first signing to take place, but it was the first one on my calendar. From there, I started. First step was a phone call to a store. Did they do signings? Yes. Could I send them my information? Yes.
And so it began.
Securing the signing
I spent time creating the email I sent to present myself as a new author in as compelling a light as I could manage, with the little that I had to work with. Book reviews, interviews, trailers, any sort of thing I had on The Actor or myself as an author. Out it went to each store person I spoke to on the phone. In the beginning, each book signing often took several phone calls and numerous emails. I knew how important follow-up was, and practice I did. Always wanting a ‘yes’, I don’t stop until I have a ‘no’. Some of those stores I’m still talking to after two years. They haven’t yet said ‘no’ but I haven’t done a signing there either.
A book signing is one of the most ‘win-win’ situations I’ve ever experienced. Through my business life, I had come to dislike the ‘win-win’ expression as one party’s “win”, more often than not, resulted in the other party’s cost (loss). Here, all win—author, reader, publisher and bookstore. I will be first to acknowledge that book signings won’t work for everyone. Some authors dislike them too much and some personalities are not a good match, and for some it’s simply too much effort.
Crucial things to know
With book signings in the schedule, I then had to prepare. I learned a lot here mostly by doing things that didn’t work. I knew from my business background that I had to have a 20-second “elevator” speech. I had to be able to whet the appetite of a prospective reader of The Actor in 20 seconds. This might be the single most important thing for a new author to have for their book. No one wants to listen to someone ramble on and on about a book they’ve written. We’re all proud of our work but we have to remember that everyone else has a life too. Get it down and conversational.
Visibility might be one of the most important things at your signing. While we all want to sell books, getting your book seen is as important. A two-by-three poster of the cover works. You’re in a bookstore. Be seen. You’ll likely have the privilege of being the only author in the bookstore that day from the hundreds if not thousands of authors with books there. Realize that privilege. You want readers leaving the bookstore remembering your book.
I have business cards that include the covers of both The Actor and The Drive In. I have them at the ready. After twenty or so book signings, I found bookmarks are a nice addition to anyone buying The Actor or The Drive In.
Now that you’re booked and prepared, my last book signing post will talk about being there and doing it.