Saturday, May 19, 2007

Book Signing and Lessons

We had our first book signing today!

We held it at the Salem Church Library in Fredericksburg. I called a couple of weeks ago, and at the advice of the event manager, agreed to set up with a table at the lobby. I sent out some press releases, forgot about it when my computer decided to run MicroSloth instead of MicroSoft, then scrambled to let folks know the day before.

It was a busy day at our little library, with a used book sale and a quilting show. At about 9:50, we showed up at the library with our books and our paraphernalia and our box of books. The lady at the reference desk asked us what kind of table we wanted, and since it was Rob and me, we chose a long one rather than the card table. She gave us tape to put our sign on the table cloth, taped the poster to the front, and lined up some books along the left with the EPPIE trophy. On the right, we set one book on a stand, and the flyers, post cards, etc. In the middle was the sales flyer and a sign-up sheet for visitors.

So we sat for the next four hours. We greeted everyone as they came in. Usually, they'd smile and make a quick left turn to the quilts or used books. Some would come right to us...only to ask where story time was, or if there were water fountains. After awhile, I got more comfortable and started saying to anyone who would do more than give a distracted "hello" as they stared at the artwork behind us, "If you like science fiction, come look." That drew a little more reaction, even if it was just to say, "Nope, sorry. Don't like sci-fi."

About 15 people stopped and asked us about the book. Some gentlemen sat on the bench and perused it while their wives perused the quilts. A couple of people stopped to discuss the interaction of religion and sci fi. Some signed our guestbook. Some took cards with our e-mail address to check if their friend or relative were interested. We only made one sale and donated one to the library, but it was a good first experience.

Here are some things we learned:

--PR!! Don't just rely on media releases. Put up flyers in areas that attract your kind of readers. Invite your friends and neighbors. Tell them when you make the announcement, a week before and the day before. Ask them to tell a friend. Use your contact list.

--At the library, it's good to have a book signing when they're having other events. Other events draw folks. Our only sale was to a lady who came for the show. She was delighted to go home with quilting patches and summer reading.

--If you have family in the area, tell them. (Can you believe I forgot to tell my mother-in-law? She was not happy with us.)

--Don't expect your title to reveal the genre. We thought "Infinite Space, Infinite God" was obviously religious sci-fi, especially with the cover--a monstrance against a background of stars and earthscape. Nonetheless, we had several people say they couldn't figure it out. Make sure your poster gives the genre.

--Bring a scrapbook. While we had our EPPIE trophy and the sell sheet, there were times I could have generated more interest if I'd shown them the story synopses, reviews, etc.

--Have a sign-up sheet. We made one with name and e-mail, and places to checkmark for the genres we write in and whether or not we could contact them with info about our next efforts. These will add to our contact list. (I'm also sending the thank you e-cards.)

--Make sure they give you an e-mail if they want to be contacted. I have two folks who didn't.

--Take notes. Keep track of how many people you talked to. At our library, the book signing actually counts as a meeting and affects their funding. By giving them the number of folks who "attended" (had extended conversations with us), we were able to help them.

--Bring tape, straight pins (to pin things to the tablecloth) and extra pens. And a cushion. Library benches can get hard on the fanny.

--If you have a laptop, make a little video scrapbook to play on it. You might include your book trailer, read some of your reviews, give tidbits. Don't make it too long, but keep it interesting. If you're going to have sound, ask first--esp. at the library.

--Bring a camera and get a photo!

--If you're working on your next book, bring the manuscript to work on. I've got a couple of folks who are interested in my fantasy novel. Plus, it gave me something to do, so I didn't feel so pitiful.

--Meet and thank the staff. Because of timing, I didn't get much chance to do this, but these are the folks who will market your book for you after the sale. Go early and introduce yourself, bring a treat, donate a copy of the book, and give them a thank-you note. Offer to write a compliment, and give them the stats of your signing--number of folks contacted, number who showed interest, number of books you know you sold.

Done a book signing? Have extra tips? Leave them below!


Jeff Sherratt said...

Hi Karina,

Interesting Blog about library signings. And your points are excellent. I'm setting up library panels in Orange County, CA. I'll recommend your Blog entry to the authors participating. Even though you didn’t sell many books at your event, you garnered names for your mailing list, which is important. When people come to a library, they aren’t always in the mood to buy books, after all it is a library, but they all are readers and having their permission to send them email is a good thing.


Diana Castilleja said...

This a great blog to have right now. I'm trying to see about doing my first signings this year, hopefully. I'm working a couple of different loops and other writers in the area.

I do have a tip for you.

Try to do signings with more than one author. More 2-3 or so, attract more attention. They don't all have to be the same genre, or from the same town, or anything like that.

That's what I'm trying to set up. Several authors in the area are looking at San Antonio for July (maybe) and I have another in the other direction who would like to do one.

Also there's the different venues that are available, if the owners are receptive, gift cards or baskets provided by the owners work well.

Coffee shops
Wine stores

Thanks for the extra nuggets!

Mary Cunningham said...

Nice, informative blog, Karina. I'm getting ready for 2 booksignings, and spent the better part of the day putting up flyers at libraries, town hall, coffee shops, my hairdresser's, and, since I write children's books, I put a flyer in the window of the local children's dance studio. I'm also taking flyers for my writer's group to hand out. I also use an e-mail signup sheet.

You made a great point! You can't do too much PR!


Sis Zabrina said...

Hi Karina,

Great tips! I am getting ready for my book launch and the ideas and advice you gave is timely.

Thanks Karina!

God Bless,
Sis Zabrina

Karina Fabian said...

Thanks, everyone. Here are some more from a friend:

1. Put your event in the craigslist events section. It's free, and it gets read.
2. Contact all the high school and college papers in and around your book signing. I've had local college papers do full articles on my works/books (I am an alumna). Let them know as far in advance in possible.
3. Send info on the book signings to all the local newspapers. Many of them have a "submit an event" on their website. My book signings were posted on half a dozen local paper websites.

Sue Dent said...

Here's a really BIG tip. Take advantage of the FREE on-line press releases. You get to do them yourself, they're free and they stay on the web forever!!!! Or at least until you delete them. Oh and don't expect anyone to show up, that way if they do, you're pleasantly surprised!!!

Also, and I'm sure Bryan Davis won't mind me saying this, but when I did a signing with him at a Barnes & Noble in New York, he'd actually stalk people. LOL "Hey, there's one I'd say of a parent with several children," and off he'd go with his bookmarks.

Oh yes, book marks are cool. I'd forgotten mine so I'd just point out potential buyers to Bryan. Gosh, most of the time he saw them before I did. He rounded up quite a few customers.

*note to self. Expect a phone call from Bryan*