Today, on the Big Blue Takeover I have a guest post from author of Rage’s Echo, J.S.Bailey.
First of all, I’d like to thank Shelley for letting us all invade her blog while she’s away. THANK YOU, SHELLEY! You are most welcome 🙂
My name is J. S. Bailey, purveyor of suspenseful tales about ghosts, demons, and socially-awkward psychics, and I’m here today to talk about book signings.
I have been published for five years, and in my personal experience, it is much easier to sell books when people see physical copies in person than when people see links to Amazon online. It has been my mission to get my books in front of as many people as possible by having as many book signings as possible—usually 3 or 4 per month.
- Setting them up
The two types of places where I’ve had the most book signings are used bookstores and coffee shops—more specifically, Half Price Books and Starbucks. To set up an event, call the venue of your choice and politely ask if they host author events, and if so, if they would be interested in having you.
I tend to sell more books when I have bookstore signings on Friday or Saturday evenings and coffee shop signings on Saturday or Sunday mornings, so be mindful of that when scheduling a date and time for your event. I typically set them up to last 4 hours, sometimes 3.
- Be prepared!
You should keep a spare table in your car should the venue not have one available. I also bring a tablecloth (made of Doctor Who-print fabric to attract my geeky brethren), bookstands, bookmarks, a Sharpie, and plenty of books. I bring about 6 copies each of my most popular titles and 2 or 3 each of the less popular ones. You should bring enough change and invest in a credit card reader so you don’t miss out on any sales.
In the past I’ve averaged 3 or 4 books sold per event, but so far in 2016 the planets have aligned just so, so I sell about 7 or 8 on average. It’s important to have realistic expectations!
- Be proactive!
I talk to a lot of booksellers at my events, and I commonly hear stories of ungrateful authors who refuse to talk to any bookstore customers and proceed to grow furious at the bookstore employees when their books don’t sell. DO NOT DO THIS.
When people pass by my table, I smile and greet them, and if they start eyeing my books, I ask them if they are a reader, and if so, what they like to read. Sometimes they have on a cool shirt or are carrying a book I like, so I’ll mention something about that. Anything to get a conversation started!
Once you’ve got them talking, they will invariably ask you what your books are about. Encourage them to pick one up and read the blurb. Thank them when they purchase a copy. And if they don’t purchase one, be friendly anyway. J
(I’ve had authors tell me they’re too introverted to do book signings. I don’t buy that excuse. I’m so introverted I refuse to walk outside if I see my neighbors out and about because I’m terrified I might have to talk to them, but I do book signings because I want my books to find readers. When you want something badly enough, you will overcome your inhibitions.)
- Dress the part
In the olden days I would try to look all fancy and professional at my book signings, but it just wasn’t ME. These days I dress the way my ideal readers dress: like the socially-awkward geek that I am. This typically consists of a Doctor Who t-shirt, an unbuttoned button-up shirt to go over top, black skinny jeans, and purple Converse.
Think about who your ideal readers are and dress accordingly.
- To wrap it all up…
I repeat venues every few months, so don’t hesitate to call a venue again and set up a new event, especially if you have a new release. When you conclude a book signing, be sure to return the space to the way it was when you found it (if you took a chair from somewhere, put it back when you’re finished, for example). Most of all, thank the venue’s employees for hosting you. Being kind and courteous is key. 🙂
Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and advice with us today. Getting out and about to meet readers is such a wonderful thing to do – I know the avid book worms and book bloggers who visit my blog would agree that meeting authors face to face is a lot of fun.
J.S. BAILEY is the author of four novels and seven short stories, including Rage’s Echo and Servant. Her upcoming short story anthology Ordinary Souls will be released in October 2016 (pop back for an in-depth interview with J.S.Bailey later in the year). Bailey lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA with her husband and cats and has an unhealthy addiction to Mexican food.
Next up on the BIG BLUE TAKEOVER is Rebecka Vigus, author of the Macy McVannel Series