Over the span of six weeks Ambassador COO Tim Lowry will be sharing a series he calls “Beyond the Manuscript.” Whether you’re a new or seasoned author we hope you’ll find this material helpful:
- Week 1: Author and publisher marketing
- Week 2: Creating a platform
- Week 3: Building your fan base
- Week 4: Developing your product launch plan
- Week 5: How to organize a successful signing
- Week 6: Engaging media on a local and national level
For many authors a book signing is high moment in their career as a writer, they get to interact with family, friends and supporters and see the excitement and response first hand from those buying their book. With this in mind you want your signing event to be great!
Signing events are a big deal. If you have a good event managers will want you back and short list you for future events. The work you put in is invaluable.
Select a Time and Location
The first step is obvious, you will want to select a popular local retail store, preferably working with the manager and retail partner you’ve already connected with. When selecting dates keep your area in mind. Certain nights in certain regions or during certain times of year are not good. Think mid-week meetings, football season, local high school games. These are small details that can have a great impact on turnout.
When a date is selected you want to start event promotion, there are many steps you can take to make your signing a success. Being strategic and paying attention to the detail are a big part of it.
- You will want to use the tools you have established. Create a Facebook event, invite all your followers. Make it open to public and encourage fans to share.
- Email your contact list, perhaps you already have a eNewsletter you send out, use this list and notify them of your event. If you don’t have an eNewsletter look into signing up for a service like MailChimp.This is a great service that allows you to professionally send and manage your email marketing and will avoid you’re email from being blacklisted or becoming associated with spam. Your eNewsletter is a great way to keep you front and center with your fans.
- Go old school and produce flyers or handouts, a good publisher will coordinate with you on this. Distribute them at church, among friends, leave copies at the bookstore. Some stores are open to using a quality flyer as a bag stuffer. Create an event poster, put them up at the store (with the manager’s permission), at coffee houses, church, give copies to friends and ask them to further distribute at the places they frequent.
- Reach out to your media list, see if the local paper will interview you and promote the event or perhaps you can get on a local breakfast show the day of your event. Use your well-developed pitch. Alternatively coordinate with your publisher to assist you in your media outreach efforts.
- While preparing the ground locally add your event to local event calendars. Many newspapers, cities and local news stations will have event calendars for free on their websites.
The Key to Success
We have put each of these elements into play for many events. As a case study lets take the title Healing Hearts. Earlier this year we had a major launch, we reached out to key regional magazines months in advance, we got an interview and it was circulated to 300,000 readers in a Dallas based publication. We held interviews with local affiliates of national stations. We created a Facebook event inviting hundred of followers. The author sent out emails and mailings to 500+ contacts and announced it among his contacts and at his church. Barnes and Noble advertised the signing on their website and in-store with posters. Our publicist was on the ground in Dallas to assist with media and sales. The event came around and we sold several hundred books and the event ran seven hours making it one of the largest events in this history of this specific Barnes and Noble store. Much work was put into this. The author worked extremely hard coordinating his personal promotional elements and we as a publishing house worked to tie the event and media together. Our efforts combine to make a great event. The volume of sales for this event may have been the exception rather than the rule however we have seen strong sales over and over when the above steps are put into action.
I share this to encourage you. Put in the hard work.
Also, don’t be afraid to be creative with your promotions.
Getting Creative with Promotion
Consider having a blog tour running up to the big event. Each blogger can post a review, link to the title and announce the event through their blog posts. You can then share each post daily through your social media in the run up to the event.
Ask the store (if an indie) to host a Google+ Hangout with you. This can be used to promote the event and store. For an indie store this can be a great way for them to get followers to their social media, they may even be willing to offer a gift card as a prize. Remember that stores are also looking for ways to get attention and if you show you care about getting them exposure they will appreciate it. A lead into a signing such as this also provides you with a media angel.
You also can be thinking of what kind of giveaway you can offer. It could be something as simple as giving away a handful of signed copies through your site in the run up to the signing or a free ebook for the first 10-25 sales at your event. This can be something to partner with your publisher on. Have the buyers email their book receipt from the event to the publisher and eReader type. The publisher could provide a download code.
With the big event about 10 days out, you’ll want to ensure stock is on hand. This seems like something you shouldn’t need to worry about however even the best stores can make a slip up and we find ourselves overnighting books. Avoid surprises, check up on the stock or have your publisher do this. It is also worthwhile having a plan in place seeing extra stock accessible should you sell out.
Finally, this is the one party you don’t want to be late for arrive 10-15 minutes early.
I’d love to hear about your first signing, what did you learn from it?