Book Signings . . . Eek!

After getting some things together, I have just ordered a bevy of books (copies of my novel With Good Behavior from Omnific Publishing) to try to set up a book signing in Columbus, Ohio. Frankly, I’m terrified by the prospect of approaching a small bookseller and asking if they will schedule a book signing. I know that being prepared can help lower my anxiety, so I’m seeking your advice on the process.

I’ve read some recent blog entries describing how the writing process is a lot of hard work. While I totally agree with that statement (especially after wrestling with my work-in-progress yesterday), I find the idea of marketing my book to be even harder work. My dad is always one to share articles from newspapers and magazines with me, and he recently clipped out a newspaper interview with author Lee Child, one of my dad’s favorite authors. Mr. Child had a great quote in the article:

“Hard work gets you to the starting line. After that, it’s just luck.”
~ Lee Child

I think that quote accurately encapsulates the publishing process, at least in my experience so far. I’ve never been one to shy away from hard work (well, except for dreading the occasional swim practice from hell in high school and college) so I want to embrace this book signing thing as part of embracing the larger process of marketing my novel. Will you help me?

Some great advice I’ve already heard about setting up a book signing:

1. Bring a group of friends with you. (Luckily my book club has offered to help.)
2. Bring some yummy treats for the staff of the book store. (Thank you, Elizabeth Harper!)

Beyond that, I’m at a loss. For those of you who have approached book stores, what are your words of wisdom? I’m especially interested in hearing from authors working with small publishers or who have self-published, using print-by-demand publishing, but I’ll take any advice. How did you price your book? How did you manage your anxiety? What worked and what didn’t? Thank you!

Also, it’s time for Meet an Author Monday through our weekly Blog Hop. See instructions on Lisa Sanchez’s blog http://www.calicheermom.com/2010/08/meet-author-monday_23.html

7 thoughts on “Book Signings . . . Eek!”

  1. Jennifer, I feel your pain. Do you have a list of people in your area who know you and would come to support your signing? If so, you can go to the bookstore and say, \”I have 2 dozen people who have committed to come and support my signing here. Are you interested?\” That way you are bringing customers into the store and it's not all on them. Most booksellers will tell you up front that they can't guarantee much of a showing. Booksignings are iffy these days. It's best if the author brings people in. A good way to do that is to email everyone you know in the area in advance to ask if they'll support you. Then a week before the event mail out postcards, or call, email, somehow to remind them. Very rarely will an unknown author get stop by customers at a store. It's usually whoever you invite that comes. As for the treats, I know some people say this but I think it's a bad idea because you're in a book store and that can cause crumbs, sticky fingers, and chocolate smears on a product they're trying to sell. If you bring something in for the staff, make sure it gets put in the break room along with a thank you note.Anxiety is part of it, because it's your book you are putting out there and we all want success for our books. It's a hard road. Good luck!


  2. Don't limit yourself to bookstores. I've done three (what I consider) successful signings so far and not a one has been at a bookstore. My first was at a wine shop that also sells wine by the glass. Very fun. The next was at a coffee shop that has a local author book rack. More subdued and relaxing, also fun. And the latest one was at a clothing boutique that is always looking for different types of events to draw customers in. The wine shop has actually contacted me to see if I want to do another one. I just may NEVER again set foot in a book store! As far as stress…just be as prepared as you can be and that will help calm your nerves a teensy bit. I've always priced the book at cover price.


  3. Hi gals, thanks for commenting.Karen, yes I have some great friends in town who might be willing to attend a book signing, especially if I use Nicki's idea of holding at a wine shop! I know just the place and that would be a great venue–everything's better with wine. ;)Karen, good ideas for wooing the business owner to hold the event by promising to get friends there, and thank you for the pricing information, Nicki.


  4. Yay for meeting all these authors who've been down this road before! Such useful advice already! :)I have zero experience with book signings. Do you know what the normal procedure is? (Does the author intoduce herself and the book; read an excerpt; answer any questions; autograph people's copies..?) Any chance that you can attend another author's book signing and see how they do things?(P.S. Does this mean that I should order my paperback now? 🙂


  5. Yep, you can order your paperback now, Nixie. I'll cyber-sign it for you. :)I knew my fellow authors would come through with some great advice! Psychologists like know all about the benefit of calming anxiety with a nice glass of wine, or two, or eight.


  6. Jennifer, I haven't done any book signings, but I don't live too far from Columbus and I have friends there. Depending on the day, I should be able to come out–especially if it's at a wine shop 🙂


  7. Wow Rosie, that's so cool! I'd love to have you attend the book signing. I'll work on things from my end and let you know when something gets set up–I'll try to announce the book signing on the News & Events tab of my website above. Jen


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