With Tastebuds owners Beth and Gary Hoenicke.
With John, owner of Sim's Drugstore
The general point here--going beyond just signings--is to think "marketing" even as you're writing your book. So often we write our novels, then consider how to market. How might your marketing be more effective if you thought of publicity factors first?
I chose Wilmore as the setting for Exposure because I grew up there. Typically I create a fictional town. If you do create your town, you can still feature a real business. I did this for Violet Dawn, first in my Kanner Lake series. My fictional town, Kanner Lake, was in the setting of northern Idaho, around the Coeur d'Alene, Spirit Lake area. I asked permission of a real Coeur d'Alene business, Simple Pleasures, to use the lovely gift/home items store in my book. The launch party/signing for Violet Dawn was then held in Simple Pleasures. That signing was also a successful one,
The marketing benefits for such a signing cut both ways--for the business and your book. In both cases I did all I could to make the event worth it for the store itself. And the unusual venue creates a slant for local news stories--"Author Features Local Business in Novel."
2. No bookstore furnished the books. I bought them from the publisher at my author's discount--which meant I was fully in control of the selling prices.
Whenever I sell my own books, whether at a signing or at a conference, I never look at it as a money-maker. It's not about profit. It's about marketing. All I want to do is cover my expenses for buying/shipping the books. The cheaper I price the books, the more they'll sell.
For the Exposure event I created a sliding scale for the book, which retails at $15. I sold them at 1/$10, 2/$18, 3/$25, and 4/$30. Every book after four was $7.50 apiece. I used these flat amounts, not adding tax. For customers, that's akin to discounting books online, then adding in free shipping. Many people at my signing bought multiple books. I'd actually rather have fewer people buy multiple copies, than more people buying one apiece. Multiple sales to one person means that person is going to give the books to friends/family. It means a personal recommendation, often to a reader who has not read me before. Gaining new readers is always the primary goal.
3. I increased the potential for publicity of the event by asking local businesses to participate. Last January I went around to businesses in the small downtown Wilmore area, asking the owner if he/she would like to donate a prize for the event. In turn the name of that business would be included in all marketing--press releases sent to local media, flyers and posters. Almost everyone I met with donated at least one prize--free hair cuts from the barber, a flower arrangement from the florist, a free massage, a cut and style from a beauty salon, gift certificate from the Mexican restaurant, certificates for food from the grocery store, etc.
Front side of 8 1/2 by 11 publicity flyers. Zondervan printed 2000 of these.
Back side of flyer.
When you get more people on board, you're going to generate more buzz. Again, I made it a priority to ensure that these owners were well compensated. I kept my promise about including them in all publicity pieces. Before the event I gave each one a signed book. And I used their prizes in a way that would increase my sales and potentially increase theirs as well.
On my side--for every book purchased, a buyer put his name "in the basket" for the drawing. Five purchased books equaled five entries into the drawing. On the business's side--all winners received the certificates, not the actual prizes. That is, even those prizes that were sellable items rather than services were to be picked up at the business in return for handing in the winning certificate. That way the winner has to enter the business to pick up the prize, and maybe while that person is there, he/she will buy something else.
Part 2 on Thursday, after I return to California from Kentucky.
In the meantime, what signing event ideas have you seen that worked well? Or didn't work?
Read Part 2