Thursday, May 21, 2009

Behind the Scenes of a Book Signing--Part 2

Continued from Tuesday

4. Once you have all your plans in place for your book signing, don't forget to send press releases to local media. If you have used the name of a real business in your book, or perhaps set the book in that town, use that fact as the slant for your release. Zondervan sent out press packets for me to local radio, TV and newspapers in the Wilmore/Lexington area. Z wouldn't have known about the most local one--the Wilmore newsletter, put out by City Hall. I contacted the editor of that newsletter early, then sent her all info needed for a half-page article (including photos). This kind of venue may be far smaller than, say, a TV station--but in my case it was targeted toward people who would be the most interested in Exposure.

You can't predict if any media will respond to the press release or not. The bigger the station, newspaper, etc., the less likely you'll garner attention from them. All the more reason not to overlook the smaller venues. Are there local businesses that put out their own newsletters? Maybe an e-mail version? Remember to think out-of-the-box.

5. It's good to include a short talk at the beginning of your signing. That encourages people to show up at the beginning, and it gives you a chance to share some behind-the-scenes info. Keep it short and informal. And go with the flow. I only spoke for a few minutes. I would have spoken longer and had a time for questions, but people were already crowding around the table wanting to buy. So I let them buy. :)

6. Make sure to have adequate help for the signing event so things can go smoothly. Your only job should be to talk to readers and sign their books. Let others do the detail work. I lined up two assistants behind a table. One took the money for purchases; the other made sure every buyer put his/her name in the basket for prize drawings--one entry for each purchase. Those assistants got to sit. I stood behind a tall table, just the right height for signing. Unless you're physically unable to stand, it's far better to stand when you're signing. That puts you on eye level with everyone else. And it makes it easier for customers to take photos of themselves with you. (Wear comfortable shoes.)

7. Speaking of photos, I had a third assistant lined up with my camera and a small notebook in case customers said, "Oh, I forgot my camera, and I wanted a picture with you!" It's a nice extra gesture to offer to take a digital photo for the person, write down his/her email address and promise to send the picture along.

8. To make the book spirals: Four books per layer. Put the first layer down with corners touching, forming an empty square in the middle. Two books will be vertical on the table; two will be horizontal. (Make sure the vertical ones are facing your customers.) Do the same with the next layer, but placing these books across the corners of the bottom books. Do the same with all subsequent levels--always placing the books across the corners of the books directly below them. (Pictured here is a spiral of Always Watching, my newly released young adult suspense that I brought along. Some of the top books have been pushed a little out of place, but at least you can get the idea.)

9. Always, always ask how to spell someone's name when you're signing a book for him/her. Even if you think you know it. I first ask, "How would you like me to sign this for you?" Some just want a signature so they can decide later who to give the book to. Others want it personalized. Even if the person's name is Pat, I ask how to spell it. With all the weird name spellings these days, you never know.

10. Finally--relax. Don't stress over a signing. No matter how much work you put into an event, you can't control how many people come. And remember, much of the success rests on the prior advertising, which puts your name in front of people, even if they don't attend.


Hannah said...

Glad that the signing went well! Thanks for the marketing info, also. I never knew the behind-the-scenes workings that put a book signing together; now I have a better idea of how the planning and marketing fit into it.

Raven said...

Very nice tips. I especially enjoy the pics you've included. Nice to see real people in real places. I think it's hard for many writers, myself included, to envision sitting at a signing without a turn out.
Scary. You've brought out the point that the hosts of the signing are also people and potential clients.

Thank you for being so open about your methods of promotion.