As some of you know, I had my First Book Signing this past weekend. It was a little scary, but all and all a great experience I can’t wait to have again.
Since I wanted to “test the waters” I had pretty much a family and friend only signing, I saved money and rented out my sons playschool for a couple of hours, costing a mere donation of $30 bucks—less than half of what other venues would have charged. I bought some doughnuts, brought Mr. K—for those of you who don’t know, that’s my Keurig machine and that was about it.
Minimal props, planning and organizing, but a huge success came out of the event. I sold more than my goal of books, got over my fear of signing (biggest worry—making a spelling mistake) and got to hang out in the lime light.
So, though I am not a pro in the least, I thought I’d share a few things that I’ve learned—and will carry forward when I have my next event.
Don’t break the bank when it comes to a venue. I know, my first idea was to have a super snazzy, evening cocktail party where I’d supply drinks, appetizers and fun. But realistically that’s just not worth it. Though half the fun of having a book published is to celebrate, you really don’t want to go in the hole. What’s the point of celebrating success if all your royalties go into paying for your lavish affair? Exactly. There are lots of places available for rent all you have to do is a little research. I chose my sons playschool because I wanted it to be comfortable for both kids and adults—I have a busy 5 year old, and lots of nieces. But do what works; just remember your ultimate goal—having fun, while making a little money. Also, a bookstore is your obvious choice but since I wasn’t ready for the public, I’ll save that venue option for later.
Assemble your guest list. This has been made easy with things like Facebook invites and word of mouth. Just remember, it’s easy for people to say they will come—but don’t be disappointed or offended if they don’t. I had a confirmed guest list of well over fifty people, which sadly, due to the fact that it was the first snow free, nice day this year, a lot of people didn’t come. Don’t worry. Start off slow. I was happy that it was a small (30 people or so) event where I knew everyone. Remember time of day, and pick what works best, don’t bend over backwards trying to please others. If you are having a signing, and expect the public to come, you have to advertise. Make use of your local bulletin boards, your newspaper, even Kijiji or Craigslist. Anything you can do to get the word out, you should be doing it. Unless you are in a bookstore, you can’t expect much “walk-in” traffic, you have to entice readers to come.
People love winning and eating. I had made up a gift basket I was giving away, and for every book sold, the buyer got a ballot to fill out. Believe it or not, this added to sales. A few people that didn’t have any intention of buying the book, decided to because they saw something they liked in the gift basket. It also encourages people to come. It’s the small things like prizes, free snacks and coffee. At first I thought I’d wasted my time with these small things, but the doughnuts were a hit, refreshments allowed people reason to stick around and chat, and the prize gave people the idea that even though they were spending money, they might have a chance to get something in return.
Find a pen you love! I can’t stress how important this is. I tested out numerous pens, finding one that had a nice flow, was comfortable to hold, and that didn’t scratch, tear, bubble with ink, or run dry. There is nothing worse than going to sign a book and having your pen fail you. I found the perfect pen, and bough lots. If you like sharpies or markers, those are fine, but test them out before putting them to a book, they may bleed, or seep through the paper.
Make sure you have change, business cards, and book information. If your book is an odd denomination, maybe round up or down. My book was 14.99 so I just called it 15.00, though I didn’t have to worry about the penny I did have to worry about people giving me twenties and expecting change. I started with a float, mostly five dollar bills and went from there.
There will be people who won’t buy your book, so make sure you can hand them a business card, book mark or some other small token that has your info and your novel’s info. Business cards work great, these days with online places like Vista Print, you can get great cards for a great price. One side can be about your book, and where to buy, showcasing your cover, and the other side can be about you, the author, and your email, and website info. It’s a personal choice, but I left my phone number off. Since the card would be going to potential readers, I didn’t want them to have the ability to call me but I made sure there was room to write the number in case I wanted to make it known.
Having fun is the most important thing. Trust me, your first signing whether it’s with friends and family or at a bookstore, might fizzle. You might not sell a single book. But as long as you are having a good time, handing out your information and chatting up potential readers it will all be worth it in the end. Money is tight right now with just about everyone, so they may not have the extra funds that second to buy a book, but if you leave a lasting impression you might have made a sale for down the road.