Write From Home
P.O. Box 4145
Hamilton, NJ 08610
E-mail: kim @ writefromhome.com
40+ Ways to Make Your Next Book Signing an EVENT!!
(Revised - July 16, 2001)
Here are some tips and suggestions that have
helped me increase the number of books sold at a book signing. Many are my own,
and some were suggested by other author friends. Each book store has it's own
distinctive personality. While I do not attempt to do all of the suggested tips
at every signing, it is important to adapt as many as you can to fit each
store's personality. Believe me, doing so will increase the opportunity to sell
DO - Write your own announcement for the book stores intercom. Make it
short and brief. Give them several versions because they usually announce that
you are there several times. Don't hesitate to remind them to make the
announcement again if it's been awhile since the last announcement. They often
will get busy and forget. Every half hour should do it. If you do lectures or
give speeches about your book and are in town for a keynote or seminar that is
open to the public, include information about that too. Let the book store
choose to include it in the announcement or not.
DON'T - Don't just sit at the table they have for you. Most authors do
that. Be different! Reach out and touch someone! Don't wait for them to come to
you. I always tell the person booking the signing not to worry about putting a
chair behind the table. This will always get their attention. Let them know you
will be the store's official greeter while you are there. Walk around the store
with several copies of your book and introduce yourself to everyone.
Request at least a dozen books for your table to illustrate you have plenty
available. If those you introduce yourself to show the least bit of interest,
hand them a book. They will almost always take it. Tell them to look at it and
bring it back to the table when they are finished. On average, I more than
tripled my book sales at signings by implementing this tip!
DO - Have an attractive two color or four color book mark designed by a
graphic artist and print thousands of them. You can give one to everyone who
comes in the store. List a few endorsements on it as well as a brief paragraph
of what the book is about. Leave your address off. Put the price and the ISBN
on. Book stores often have their own book marks and are reluctant to have you
give yours out if they think their customer is going to you direct.
I often will sign a book mark for someone who lingers at my table but does not
buy my book. Remember your mission: "Spread good will!" Many people
will come back to the store and buy your book after you have left. Send the book
store several hundred book marks and suggest that they include them in the bags
of people who buy books before your book signing.
DO - Four-color postcards which feature your
book covers OR the home page on your website are great give-aways. Click here
for a great postcard resource.
- BONUS TIP: I include book marks for all
three of my relationship books plus a business card in every piece of
correspondence that leaves my office. The utility companies send statement
stuffers to you, so why not send one back? When paying bills, slip in one of
your book marks with your check.
DO - Get to know the "Community Relations Coordinator" (CRC).
They are the ones who will book you again if they like you. I've been back to
the same Barnes and Noble store three times in the last 9 months in the Phoenix
DO - Send the person who booked the signing a brief "thank you"
note. I'm told that authors seldom do this. I've had several people call me to
thank me for sending the note.
DO - Write a follow up commendation letter to the CRC's manager as
a fantastic way to thank and build good relations with both the CRC, the book
store and you.
DO - Remember to call at least two months in advance if you want to be
included in their in-store flyer.
DO - Go to Kinko's and have your book covers enlarged in color to an 11 x
17 poster, laminate them and have them put them on a poster type board with a
stand up thing on the back. Always bring them with you to the signings! Anything
else you can think of to call attention to your table is also GREAT!
DO - Ask them for a media list (radio, TV, etc.). Some don't have them,
but the ones who do will usually share it or tell you where to get it. It makes
calling the radio and TV stations easier. If they don't have a media list, ask
them which stations they would recommend that might be interested in an
interview. When they know you are also doing stuff to promote the signing,
usually they do more too!
DO - Ask for a community list, i.e., Chamber of Commerce, Society of the
Arts, etc. Send them a news release about your book signing (and seminar or
keynote, if applicable). You never know where your speaking engagements may come
from. Check first with your meeting planner to get permission, then add a
personal note to the news release inviting them to come and hear you speak. (You
do accept speaking engagements to talk about your book topic, don't you?).
DO - Although most book stores send news releases, send your own as well.
This increases the chance of getting coverage. One other thing. Always
"confirm" that they DO send news releases to the media. I no longer
will do book signings at stores who are not willing to send news releases about
my book signing.
DO - Call the radio and TV stations no less than a month in advance and
request an interview the week of the signing. Send them a news release about
your book signing. Give them a special invitation to attend your book signing
and if you are in town to do a keynote or seminar, invite them to attend at no
charge. Remember to send them a promotional copy of your book.
DO - Put several of your books "face-out" when they aren't
looking! I often will also put the books of my author friends
DO - Send them your endorsements. Print them in an attractive large font
and on a white piece of paper. They will often use them on posters, etc. Also
send several book "covers." Request that they put up a special
display, including poster, at least a week in advance of the signing. Most do,
but it doesn't hurt to ask.
Send your picture (color is best) to join the book cover on the poster.
Sometimes they use it, some times they don't. At least it gives them an option.
Offer to send any additional information they may need.
DO - Talk to people. Many people think because you wrote a book, you are
unapproachable. Prove them wrong. It builds relationships. Be exceedingly
FRIENDLY! Booksignings are no place to be shy.
DO - Ask the manager how many books they would like for you to sign
before you leave so they will have some on hand. NOTE: Generally speaking, they
cannot return any books you sign, so always ask! If the signing went well or
even if it didn't, and you impressed the manager, they will usually have you
sign a bunch before you leave.
DO - Bring a camera and have your picture
taken with the manager or Community Relations Specialist and other key people in
the store. If you want to call attention to yourself, pay attention to other
people. Most people don't do this. You may want to use several of the photos in
publicity in the future.
To take this idea a step further. . . make sure your book is in the picture!
Next, buy an inexpensive frame, and mail the photo in the frame along with a
handwritten, personal note suggesting they hang the picture in a conspicuous
place in the store. You might also suggest that they start an "Authors
Photo Wall (or Hall) of Fame." The Community Relations Specialist will be
more than happy to have their picture with you hanging in the store and you and
your book will get more frequent recognition.
DO - Have a Polaroid camera handy at your
table. When someone buys your book say, "Let's have our picture taken
together!" Have someone from the store take a picture of you and your new
customer. Give it to them and sign and date the back of the picture. Suggest
they use it for a book mark. This increases the odds that your book AND the
picture will become more of a conversation piece.
Someone suggested taking a picture with a digital
camera, getting their e-mail address and asking permission to send them the
picture by e-mail. This will also help build your e-mailing list for future book
announcements or for your eZINE.
DO - To help call attention to my book "Red Hot LoveNotes for
Lovers," I put a crystal bowl on the table and fill it with small,
individually wrapped packages of "Red Hots." Dove chocolates are
another favorite. People will stop and read the book poster (while they are
unwrapping the candy) and look over your book marks and books. Ask them if you
can take the wrapper. . . Contact!
DO - Design a sign-up sheet (name, address, e-mail and phone number) for
those who may be interested in being on your e-mailing list. Don't have an
e-mailing list? Start one! You'll be glad you did. Consider sending an
"opt-in" eZINE on a monthly basis to your e-mailing list.
DO - If you are in town for a keynote or seminar, bring some seminar
flyers to hand out. It doesn't have to be fancy, just who, how, what, when and
where will do! Invite the Community Relations person to attend your seminar for
free. Many won't take the time to come, but it's a nice touch!
DO - Have copies of reader's reviews available at your table. Hand them
to anyone who shows the least bit of interest in your book and say, "Here's
what other people who have read my books have to say." Make extra copies
for give-aways. One of my books is called, "LoveNotes for Lovers," so
I say, "Here are some LoveNotes from some of the people who have read my
books." When someone begins to read the reviews, remain quiet. Amazon.com
is a good source when people post impartial reviews of your book. Most people
hold Amazon.com in high regard. If no reviews are posted, send the link to your
book to your friends and encourage them to post reviews.
DO - Call the local newspaper and request that someone come and take
pictures for the "feature article" you will also request. Suggest that
they interview the book store manager or community relations person. If they
like you, they will almost always say great things about you and your book.
I did this at a signing in Topeka, KS (my former hometown) and even though the
article came out after I left, it was great PR, the store loved it, and
follow-up sales were great. Remember to send them a promotional copy of your
DO - Get there no less than 15 to 20 minutes early and if you can, stay
late. At a signing in Tucson, I sold more books in the extra 30 minutes after
the signing than in the previous two hours.
DON'T - Don't complain if you don't sell lots of books. You must realize
that signings and book readings or presentations will rarely exceed your
expectations and hardly ever meet your highest goals. Signings make those who
bought your book feel good, but they generally don't sell lots of books while
you are there, UNLESS you create a presence WHILE YOU ARE THERE!
I've sold as few as "none" to as many as 56 in a two hour period.
According to book store managers, on average, book sales for a non-celebrity
author will range from about 4 to 7. If you sell more, you're doing great!
DON'T - Don't show your disappointment if you don't sell very many books.
It only creates bad will. The Community Relations Cordinator (CRC) will often be
apologetic if the response wasn't good. This is your chance to thank them for
the opportunity and ask for another book signing in the near future. Nuff said!
DO - Talk about other authors books; authors you know. I have a story in A
2nd Helping of Chicken Soup For the Soul and always ask the manager to put
those books on the table too. I sign on page 18 under my name. I know my friends
Mark Victor Hansen and Jack Canfield, the "Chicken Soup" guys, don't
need my help, but the customers love it! My dear friend, Greg Godek's book, 1001
Ways to Be Romantic often shows up on my table. He mentions one of my books
in several of his books.
DO - If you would like to start a mailing (or e-mailing) list of your
fans, plan to give away something. Have them sign a "guest book" or
"free drawing" card with their name, and complete mailing address
(e-mail address, too) to qualify. Announce the winner at the end of your book
signing. People love the idea of a chance to win something free, and it often
causes them to linger in the store longer.
DO - Come bearing gifts! Give the community relations person (or the
person who booked the signing) a rose, small bunch of flowers or a tiny box of
chocolates. They will not forget YOU!
DO - If you are coming from out of town, always call to let them know you
DO - Talk to the community relations person and request a brief meeting
with their employees prior to the signing to very quickly give an overview of
your book so they can be aware and help sell it when people ask for that kind of
DO - I am a professional speaker as well as an author. If there is a book
publishing association or National Speakers Association chapter or similar
organization in the city of the signing, let them know you will be in town.
Attend their meeting. If you know enough ahead of time, request to be on the
DO - When people stop by your autograph table, as you are introducing
yourself, hand them a copy of your book. Many people will not pick up your book,
but most will take it if you hand it to them. If they begin to read it, that's
your cue to keep quiet. My book sales at the back of the room and at book signings
have increased significantly since using this tip.
DO - If you have a laptop computer, make arrangements with the book store
for a phone line to the book signing table. Often a 25 foot phone extension wire
from Radio Shack will work. (I bring my own). Display your computer in a
prominent area and invite customers to interact with your website while you sign
their book. ALWAYS hand them something with your URL printed on it. This is a
sure-fire attention getter!
DO - Communicate with the bookstore by writing on postcards that show
your book cover OR have numerous extra book covers printed and use the front
part of the cover as an oversized postcard. While they do require extra postage,
they keep your book in front of them as a constant reminder!
DO - Ever have a signing and there is no poster telling the store's
customers you were going to be there, or no publicity in the newspaper, or the
store didn't remember you were coming, or they forget to order extra books?
Whatever you request the CRC to do, very tactfully print an itemized list for
them to follow. Print a checklist for yourself containing these items so you can
follow-up with your contact and make sure each item is accomplished prior to the
I have saved several book signings from disaster by always having an extra box
of books in the trunk of my car in case their book order didn't arrive in time
or they forgot to order. In one case, the CRC was so embarrassed that she let
"me" sell the books I brought and keep all the profit.
DO - MOST IMPORTANT: Have FUN! Let people know you are there to
have fun, even if you don't sell any books. The manager of the store often feels
worse than you do, because they are afraid you won't come back. Have fun! Create
Some final words: It is important for you to understand that the purpose
of book signings is not necessarily to sell books, but to make the book store
customers AWARE of your books.
Another important point to understand is that books DO NOT sell themselves! People
SELL books! It's equally important to spend some of your time at your
signing to smooze with the people who take the money from the customers who buy
your books. Get to know the staff at the book store. THEY can help you continue
to sell your books LONG AFTER you have gone!
Book signings are an opportunity to build relationships with the book sellers. I
consider book signings as an opportunity to SELL the book sellers on
recommending MY books when someone asks for a good relationship book!
On several occasions, after handing the booksellers my 4-color book marks and
telling them a little about myself and my books, the booksellers have actually
bought signed copies of my books. If I happen to sell and sign a few books to
their customers while I am there. . . I am grateful! I consider that a BONUS!
DO - Make arrangements to have the book displayed at the cash register.
Most book stores have plastic book stands for this. Hand the manager a book and
ask "How about displaying this one on the counter by the cash register to
remind buyers that the author is here?" You might want to print up a small
bookmark type sign that says, "Buy this book between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.
today and have author Larry James personally sign it for you. Ask for
Several more things. . . as an author you should ALWAYS sign your
books. Some people are too shy to ask for your autograph. Sign it anyway! Simply
ask, "Here, let me sign that for you. Whose name would you like in
it?" Always ask.
Never assume the book is for them. In the beginning, I wasted several books by
assuming that the book was for them. I also always ask for the correct spelling.
Even John can be spelled, "Jon;" "Kelly: Keli, Kellie, Kelley,
etc." If you sell your book by mail order be sure to include a blank on
your order form for the person's name to whom the book should be signed. Remind
them to PRINT the name. I also ask if they would like for me to write a date
under my signature. Many people like to remember when they met you.
Authors often trade books with other authors. Remember to sign your books to
them and ask them to return the favor.
DO - Ask the Community Relations Coordinator to make up some "Author
Personalization Slips" (1/4 page sheets of paper with your photo and/or
book cover on them with a message that says: "If you would like for (the
author's name) to personalize your book for you, please PRINT the name you would
like inscribed below." This will speed up the process and help keep you
from having to ask, "What name would you like in the book?" or
"What is the correct spelling?"
Come up with a special way of signing your name everytime you sign your books.
For many years, I have signed books, "(their name), Celebrate Love! Larry
James." I always mention that my website is CelebrateLove.com; that there
are lots of relationship articles there and I would love to hear from them by
e-mail telling me what they thought of my book. I also add, "If you like
it, please tell your friends."
Adding something special like, "Happy
Birthday," or "Happy Anniversary," etc., will also make them very
proud to show the book to their friends. Signed books are treasured much more
than non-signed books!
Copyright © MM - Larry James. Larry James is a
professional speaker and author of How to Really Love the One You're With:
AffirmativeGuidelines for a Healthy Love Relationship, LoveNotes for
Lovers: Words That Make Music for Two Hearts Dancing! and Red Hot
LoveNotes for Lovers. He can be reached at: Larry James, CelebrateLove.com,
P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. 800-725-9223.
Permission is granted to reprint or post to a web site providing the copyright
notice and bio above are a part of the document.
If you have ideas of your own that you are
willing to share, please send me an e-mail (LarryJames@CelebrateLove.com).
I am always open to new ideas! I will add them to my list. Thanks in advance.
If you post "40+ Ways to Make Your Next
Book Signing an EVENT!!" on your website, please let me know your web
address. If you print this article in your newsletter, magazine, eZINE (or any
other print or electronic media) or pass it along to your friends, please make
sure the copyright & bio (and this NOTE) are attached. I would
appreciate it if you would send a copy of any publications to the address in the
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