Signing books for the public in bookshops is not the reserve for just rich and famous authors. In this post we will look at the ‘how to organise’ and also ‘how to be at the event.’
Of course, the cost of petrol can make events far and wide not viable which is a shame but, nevertheless, supporting and building a positive repartee with your local bookshop is essential in the life of an author, as well as the opportunity to meet new readers.
A) How to organise a book-signing
- Visit your local bookstore regularly.
- Choose a quieter time to visit and discuss your book with the manager (in the case of Waterstones they usually have a designated person who arranges events. You may have to make an appointment by email first)
- Offer them a free copy to read.
- Negotiate a discounted price. (40 – 60 % is usual)
- If it is an Indie Bookshop they may be willing to buy books directly from your stock, in which case it is more worthwhile to you both. Be prepared to be flexible.
- If it is a large book company then they are likely to order from a main distributor, such as Gardners. Your discount will then be set by your publisher and negotiated by them.
- Your enthusiasm will bring you rewards. Don’t forget it is a two way thing. Both should benefit.
- Try if you can to organise the date to coincide with an event related to your book ~ eg the date Queen Victoria came to the throne, the opening of the London Underground etc
How to be on the day
- Publicise the event beforehand on your website, blog on Twitter or Facebook. (You could encourage a few friends to come in to make a buzz and spark interest)
- Don’t be pushy. Make eye contact and smile, but certainly don’t follow readers around the store.
- Readers are only too willing to chat. Be open and friendly and enjoy the banter, even if it is about their own writing project. Be enthusiastic for them and make suggestions if appropriate.
- Have a giveaway of a bookmark or business card to give to those buying the book, but also to other folks. They might go home and check you up on Amazon or your website first.
- Ask if they would like a personal message and make sure to spell their name correctly.
- Have a sheet for folks to sign up for your newsletter.
- Practice your signature, especially if it is a pen name.
- Be courteous to the book sales people and thank them.
Author Diana Jackson writes:
“When my Riduna Series was first published I travelled up and down the country from Alderney in the Channel Islands to Southampton, throughout Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, not to mention more unusual events at the Shuttleworth Collection bookshop, who also stocked my second book ‘Ancasta Guide me Swiftly Home,’ where I gained so much support when researching the aviation aspects of the novel.
I enjoyed the events because, not only did I sell books but I had the chance to meet and talk to readers. I had a special relationship with our local indie bookshop in Ampthill called Horatio’s, which, sadly to say, is no more, but Waterstones were extremely supportive too.
You say to encourage a few friends to come in. At Luton, Waterstones, so many folks I knew popped in from Barnfield College where I worked, that I hardly had time to talk to the public. It was quite a party atmosphere and the store loved it!”