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Dos & Don'ts of Book Signings

By Stephanie Chandler

Owner of Book Lover's Book Store, Sacramento, CA
Author of The Business Startup Checklist and Planning Guide and From Entrepreneur to Infopreneur: Make Money with Books, E-books and Information Products


Dos

Seek media coverage prior to the event by contacting local editors, reporters, columnists, and radio show producers. A story in the newspaper or on the radio can boost attendance dramatically.
Send posters and bookmarks to the store at least two weeks before the event.
Ask whether the store will hand out bag-stuffers/ small flyers that promote the event. If so, get some printed and drop them off at least two weeks in advance so they can be distributed with everything purchased at the store.
Find out what kind of promotion the store will do (probably not much). If necessary, take it upon yourself to get your event listed in community calendars in the local papers and on www.craigslist.org.
Tell everyone you know about your event and encourage them to attend and invite their friends. If you have a lot of people around you in the store, others will come to find out what the fuss is about.
Use props or gimmicks—anything you can bring to capture the attention of passers-by. Even a bowl of candy can draw people to you.
Offer to give a talk or a presentation instead of just sitting there and signing books.
Set up an eye-catching sign. It could feature a picture of your book, other relevant artwork, a quiz or interesting pertinent statistics … anything to capture interest.
Smile! This is basic, but easily forgotten, especially if you’re nervous. Sometimes a friendly smile and “Hello” is all it takes to start a conversation with a shy person that then leads to a purchase.
Be ready to talk about your book. Prepare short presentations on five to ten key selling points to share when people inquire.
Get up from your chair. You are not chained to that table! If you’re sitting there all alone, get up and walk around. Make friendly conversation with the bookstore staff and customers.
Keep a sign-up sheet at your table or bring along a jar to collect business cards. Later, you can add the contact information to your database and
follow up by sending your newsletter, your e-zine, or a personal message of thanks for attending your event. You can even offer a prize drawing for business cards, with the prize being an autographed copy of your book or special report.
Stand out from the crowd by sending the store manager or owner a thank you note after your event.

Don'ts

Don’t just sit there like a bump on a log. Be engaging and friendly.
Don’t wait for customers to come to you. You can go to them, or simply smile and welcome them as they come into the store.
Don’t disrespect the store staff. These people will have a hand in selling your books—or burying them on low-lying shelves after you leave.
Don’t use a hard sell. Nobody likes the message, “Buy this, or feel guilty.” If someone says your genre doesn’t appeal, point out that such-and-such a holiday is approaching and the book makes a great holiday gift. Ask, “Do you have a relative or friend who might like a copy?”
Don’t expect the store to rally an audience for you. Some stores may list events in their newsletters and/or in community calendars, but they aren’t going to be your personal publicity agents. Do the legwork, and don’t be too disappointed if you don’t have a crowd.