Well, I’m less than two weeks away from the release of my latest scifi/fantasy novel, Black Earth: The Broken Daisy. With the release of a new novel comes everything marketing related to lead the way for it. Including book signings.
Last year I managed to line up five book signings for the release of book one in my Black Earth series, End of the Innocence. That’s where the marketing train ended. I’m not sure if laziness kicked in or if I just didn’t think I could get anymore book signings lined up or what the deal was, but by the end of February this year, I just stopped trying to set up book signings and stopped most of my promotional efforts and things died down due to lack of momentum.
This time around, though, I’m more determined to get into the community and promote my latest release. One important revelation that I’ve come across while calling around to my local book stores for signings this time was the purpose of me setting up the book signings to begin with.
One store that I contacted for a signing was a bit hesitant to set up a signing because they stated that the cost at which they would be able to purchase my books to put on their shelf wouldn’t be a price that most authors would agree to because the store specializes in discount books. I kindly mentioned that my highest priority wasn’t necessarily getting my books on their shelf but to get myself into the community and make a name as a writer of quality science fiction and fantasy. I also mentioned that I bring my own books to the store to sell at the signing. The manager gave me a date for my event.
And this is what led me to analyze why I do book signings. For some authors, getting your book on the shelf of a local book store is a monumental victory. It is for me too. But my three main purposes for contacting my local book store and setting up a book signing are:
1. To reach out to my community and let everyone know who I am
2. To establish a relationship with my local book stores
3. To procure a temporary store front for me to sell my books to the public
I think these three objectives are great to keep in mind when a self-published author is attempting to set up a book signing in their local book store. Reaching out to the community is invaluable, especially considering a good percentage of those people that you will be reaching out to at a book signing are strangers.
Establishing a relationship with the book store is essential for a number of different reasons, including the fact that if they are an independent book store, we want to support them as much as we can to hopefully keep them in the community, not to mention that establishing a great relationship with them will practically guarantee opportunities for more signings in the future.
Procuring a temporary store front is also an invaluable opportunity for selling copies of your book. Yes, a lot of sales can happen online, but selling in person gives the community a face and a personality to go with the book, not to mention if you get the timing and the location of the book signing right, you can give yourself a really good advantage. Case in point, I just procured a book signing at Borders in the local mall the last Saturday before Christmas – right in the middle of the holiday scuttle.
As a self-published author, I still have so much to learn. But as I move along the road that I am paving for myself, I am realizing that there is more to this writing business than just sales. There are readers, there are book stores, there are opportunities, and my job is to make the very best of all of them.