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Old 02-22-2013, 06:05 PM   #1
StoneWheller
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Book Signings

I have had a few people invite me to have a book signing at their stores. I have spoken at a bookclub and it was a very good experience, but a few years ago I did two book signings and they were flops. I said then never again. And so far I have been weary of putting my foot back in the book signing waters. Would love to hear others experiences in book signings and how to have a successful one.
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Old 02-23-2013, 05:56 PM   #2
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My first two years after being published, a portion of my promote plan was doing local signing and media interviews within a 150 mile radius (what I could do round trip in a day). I track all hits to my website with emphasis on link clicks to buy sources so I was able to note any significant benefit from such promotion activities. The largest attendance was 94 people (resulting in 7 sales) and 4 readers (with 2 sales). The immediate impact of sales was insignificant (didn't even cover cost) and I recorded very little affect to site visits.

I've had discussions with author friends and their experience has been the same, signings do little for either sales or expanding your platform. In fact, of the 24 promo avenues I've experimented with and collected site hit/sale data, signings come out near the bottom.

As an aside, with my first few books sales leaned heavily toward paperback (about 80%). After 7 years and 16 releases the majority of sales now come from E media (roughly 95%). My point? What even interest there was in face time with an author has diminished even more with the shift in customer focus to E books, IMO.
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Old 02-23-2013, 06:56 PM   #3
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In fact, of the 24 promo avenues I've experimented with and collected site hit/sale data, signings come out near the bottom.
Not the OP, but wow, that was super helpful information. (It's always so hard to determine where is most valuable to expend our efforts!) If you have a minute, do you mind sharing what's been at the top of that list of 24 for you?
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Old 02-23-2013, 07:44 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by StoneWheller View Post
I have had a few people invite me to have a book signing at their stores. I have spoken at a bookclub and it was a very good experience, but a few years ago I did two book signings and they were flops. I said then never again. And so far I have been weary of putting my foot back in the book signing waters. Would love to hear others experiences in book signings and how to have a successful one.
Unless you're a bestselling writer, signings can be painful, and not because of writers' cramp. I've done standing-room only signings where the bookstore events person really knew her stuff, others where the only attendees were there by accident.

Book sales on the spot were never the real goal of these signings. Getting the store's salespeople to handsell it was much more important, and for that you have to shmooze and persuade them to read. Getting local media coverage was also a major goal.

But these days most books are sold online or through non-bookstore outlets like Target and Walmart; which means signings are even less efficacious than in the past.
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Old 02-24-2013, 02:58 AM   #5
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Unless you're a bestselling writer, signings can be painful, and not because of writers' cramp. I've done standing-room only signings where the bookstore events person really knew her stuff, others where the only attendees were there by accident.

Book sales on the spot were never the real goal of these signings. Getting the store's salespeople to handsell it was much more important, and for that you have to shmooze and persuade them to read. Getting local media coverage was also a major goal.
So, it might be better to make arrangements with management to have you come to a staff meeting and talk up your book? You would, of course, bring coffee and cookies or doughnuts, to encourage attentiveness.
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Old 02-24-2013, 09:31 AM   #6
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So, it might be better to make arrangements with management to have you come to a staff meeting and talk up your book? You would, of course, bring coffee and cookies or doughnuts, to encourage attentiveness.
Well, no. Might as well sell some books to readers too, while you're in there. And you have to look at it from the store's POV. The last thing they want is individual writers coming in to pitch their books. But anything that will bring customers into the store is good.
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Old 02-24-2013, 12:17 PM   #7
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Well, no. Might as well sell some books to readers too, while you're in there. And you have to look at it from the store's POV. The last thing they want is individual writers coming in to pitch their books. But anything that will bring customers into the store is good.
I can see that this is where a good book-store event co-ordinator is important, to sort of prime the pump, so that the public is informed about the new author coming in, the readers of that genre are warmed up, and maybe pre-sold.
The local children's book store does a few events a year, but usually with well-known multi-book authors, I recognise the names even if I haven't read the books. Go in beforehand, and the books are prominently displayed, the staff is talking it up, it's an EVENT. (Most are actually held off-site, as they expect a crowd.)
The nearest chain store (a little mall-side operation) has done one, that I'm aware of, a no-name guy with a card table full of his book tucked into a corner. He had sad, desperate puppy-dog eyes, that the customers were trying not to meet.
I can see the vital importance of advance work.
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Old 02-24-2013, 05:56 PM   #8
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^ I can imagine how awkward that would be for everyone. If I'm a customer browsing for a book, I might pick up and scan/skim dozens and put them all back. If you pick up an author's book right in front of them, and then put it down and walk away, it's more like a personal rejection. It might not be a bad book, just one you're not interested in, but who wants to deal with those puppy-dog eyes? Far easier, IMHO, to do a reading or a talk, have a table of presided books nearby, and then do individual inscriptions for people who pick it up and come up to you while you're casually chatting afterwards.

But then, I've never been to a book signing, so what do I know?
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Old 02-24-2013, 06:53 PM   #9
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The most successful I've seen are where authors team up. If you have five authors in similar genres, it's a much bigger thing, and you're more likely to get local media coverage.

It also avoids the sad lonely author in the corner atmosphere (as summed up by this video).
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Old 02-24-2013, 09:02 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by JournoWriter View Post
^ I can imagine how awkward that would be for everyone. If I'm a customer browsing for a book, I might pick up and scan/skim dozens and put them all back. If you pick up an author's book right in front of them, and then put it down and walk away, it's more like a personal rejection. It might not be a bad book, just one you're not interested in, but who wants to deal with those puppy-dog eyes? Far easier, IMHO, to do a reading or a talk, have a table of presided books nearby, and then do individual inscriptions for people who pick it up and come up to you while you're casually chatting afterwards.

But then, I've never been to a book signing, so what do I know?
It's awkward on both sides. Most writers aren't natural salespeople, and that book is personal. The way I've always done it is how you describe---speak first, sit and sign afterward. But how is it you've never been to a signing?!

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The most successful I've seen are where authors team up. If you have five authors in similar genres, it's a much bigger thing, and you're more likely to get local media coverage.

It also avoids the sad lonely author in the corner atmosphere (as summed up by this video).
Totally loved that video! Thanks for sharing it.
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Old 02-25-2013, 12:49 AM   #11
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Thanks everyone for their response to this question.
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