Having had three very successful booksignings since my book, THE GHOST CHRONICLES, came out in mid-November, I thought I would share some tips on how you can make your own signings as successful and stress-free as possible. I have signed at three different venues – the B&B that is the setting for my book, a public library, and a Barnes & Noble – but I did the same things for each and had tremendous results. This post is long, so I’ve broken it down into three parts – PRE-SIGNING, AT-THE-SIGNING, and POST-SIGNING. In this post I’ll be covering PRE-SIGNING, then tomorrow I’ll be covering the other two so be sure to pop check back for my next post.
These tips apply to indie and traditionally published authors alike – if you’re not doing these things personally, then make sure your publisher is.
First, let’s talk about promotion of the event or what you need to do PRE-SIGNING. The reality is in most cases, the bookstore, library or other venue hosting the author will expect you to do most of the promotion yourself. And promotion is absolutely necessary. If you don’t let the general public who are local to the area you’re signing in know that you’re coming, how can you expect them to show up? Most bookstores (and other venues as well) will advertise your signing on the event page of their website and/or put a sign up in the store a couple weeks before, but you have to spread the word much more than that if you want a good turnout. Even if the venue you’re signing at posts it to their social media accounts like Facebook and Twitter, you have to understand that only a small fraction of their followers will see the post. So it’s extremely important for an author (or their publicity team) to do the following:
- Spread the word to your own social media outlets. This means setting up a Facebook event and inviting your friends, family and readers. If you can spare a little money for promo, it’s even better if you can boost the post in the last four days or so right before the event. It’s usually only a few cents per click to do this, with the added bonus that if nothing else, people will see your book cover and learn a little about your book. You can even target the boost to the local area surrounding the signing. It’s also important to tweet about the #booksigning with a #savethedate early on and then periodic reminders up until the date of the event. Most times, if the venue you’re signing at sees your tweet or post, they will help you out by retweeting and reposting. I focused on these two social media outlets (FB and twitter), but use the ones you are most active on to your full advantage. Instagram, Pinterest, whatever…it’s all good.
- Post the event on every free online EVENT bulletin board possible for the local area surrounding the signing. There are tons of these out there, with more springing up every day. I have posted my previous events to places like Eventful, TapInto, Patch, and HAR. The great thing was when I posted to these few, others like BookSigningCentral.com, ParkMe.com, WCBSfm101.1 (out of NY) and others picked up the event and posted it as well. Without me doing a thing! And, I suspect these online event calendars are looked at by people who have time on their hands, i.e. people who probably have time for…reading.
- Post the event on every free online COMMUNITY bulletin board associated with the local newspapers around the event. This includes the big and small papers too – you know, the thin ones that get thrown on your driveway once a week. Those are usually geared towards the most local news and that’s what you want. For example, this isn’t my local newspaper, but try googling Pittsburgh Post Gazette Community Calendar. On the right hand side, midway down the page you will see a little blue box that says, Add an Event. You just click on that, fill out all the information as completely as possible and you’re done! Some of these online sites will be more user friendly than others, but it’s totally worth doing. Some make your register, but that’s not a big deal. You do it once and then you’ll have a username and password for the next time you need to promo an event. Some will have a two or three day delay before your post goes up so start early with posting. The sooner your event goes up, the sooner it can be on people’s radar (and thus, get on their own calendar!) For both the online EVENT and COMMUNITY type calendars, make sure to include tags like literary, books, booksigning, fundraiser (if applicable), or whatever applies. This will help people find your event as well. For an additional $10 or so, some of these sites will also offer for you to boost your event. This means it will display at the top or home page, or something along those lines. Again, if you can spare a few bucks, it might be worth considering.
- If your book has some kind of hook you can try sending out press releases to newspapers. For my latest booksigning which is coming up on March 5th my book had three hooks, so I took full advantage of them. My first hook was that I’m an author local to NJ (which is where all of the three places I’ve signed were, though they were all spread out – I have now signed in the northern, central and southern parts of my state). My second hook was that the setting for my book is a well-known B&B in NJ. And my third hook was I am the featured author at a B&N Bookfair benefitting the library local to that B&N. You can find your own hooks within your book – does your main character have a disability that you did research on? Does your book deal with an important social issue or issue prevalent in your community? Think outside the box to discover what your ‘hook’ is. Why was it important for you to write your book about a certain type of character, or on a particular subject? Do you have a platform on that subject? (i.e. you’re an expert in your day job on that subject) Now, even if your press release only gets picked up by the online version of the newspapers you send to, this can still be golden. Here are examples of the press releases that got picked up: MyCentralJersey and Princeton Patch. But you might say, “Wait, if I’m posting the event to the online community calendar of that newspaper, why do I need to also send a press release?” Because they reach out to the community in two completely different ways! One is news story, the other is an event posting. Do both! They will be seen by two completely different sets of people. If you notice, I also included the all important Call To Action (advertising the Bookfair) at the end of the press release. Mega-Bonus – much to my surprise, my alma mater saw the press release and posted it to their own website: The Hun School
This is exactly why you need to do all these things I’m mentioning, or make sure your publicity team is doing them – you just don’t know how far something can spread once you’ve put it out there. But spread it will!
- Of course, you probably know you can pay for ads to run in the newspapers, but this can be extremely costly unless your publisher is willing to foot the bill. And to me, an interesting (and free) story about you and your book by way of a press release might get you better mileage in the long run anyway.
Now, just a few other things you need to think about PRE-SIGNING. Have yourself and all your swag ready for your event. This means think about getting that overdue haircut, think about what to wear, get a manicure, nail down directions/route to the venue if you aren’t familiar with it already, and most importantly make sure you have enough swag on hand (especially bookmarks, postcards, pens, etc) since that will have to be ordered and need time to come in (this is true even if your publisher is taking care of this for you). Don’t leave anything to chance! I’ve been at bookfairs where an author’s books failed to show up from their publisher! If you’re doing these things for yourself get them done early, and if your publisher is handling them, make sure they got done!
So that’s it for PRE-SIGNING. Tomorrow I’ll be tackling what to bring and what to do AT-THE-SIGNING, and then the followup things which are essential POST-SIGNING. I promise it will be a shorter post (I think).
Just in case you don’t have a chance to read tomorrow’s post, my next booksigning will be on March 5th 1-3 PM at the Barnes & Noble at 425 Marketplace Blvd, Hamilton, NJ 08691. A portion of the proceeds will benefit The Friends of the Hamilton Twp Library if you use Bookfair ID#11808474. And online orders for anything you buy at BN.com between 3/5/16 and 3/10/16 will also count towards the fundraiser if you use if you use Bookfair ID#11808474. That includes books, music, toys, movies, gifts and more! The official Bookfair flyer can be found here: B&N flyer and more info about the event can be found here: B&N Event
Anyone have any PRE-SIGNING tips I missed?