Since my novel Corrupted was published in January I have been gaining experience gradually at book signings and readings. Initially the prospect of conducting a book signing was slightly terrifying for me, especially when I was booked in to do a reading in front of a room full of people; ( public speaking has never been my forte.) It seemed like a pie in the sky notion that would never really happen but surprisingly within a week of publishing my novel I had my first book signing event arranged. Since then I have conducted five signings in Sussex and South London, and each one has been more successful than the last in terms of sales figures. My last book signing in Kingston was brilliant, I had so much fun and the manager claimed it was the best one he’s had at the store since he started managing it. I sold 70 books; 30 more than Nigella Lawson and 50 more than David Walliams when they did one at the same store. Not bad for a self-published author eh!
I have learnt through trial and error how to make my signings as successful as possible and maximise the sales and exposure I get from them, and I hope that by sharing my experiences with you, I will help you to do the same with any signings you may have coming up.
My first signing was at a WHSmith’s store in my hometown of Eastbourne. It is a relatively small town but I had got the maximum amount of publicity one could expect to get beforehand; a write up in the local paper; the Eastbourne Herald, and a radio interview on BBC Radio Sussex the week before. I also printed leaflets which had been distributed to customers the previous week. I had very high expectations and was expecting people to turn up in their droves who had heard me on the radio or seen my piece in the paper. Boy was I wrong. I could have counted on one hand the amount of people who turned up because of the publicity I had got. It was up to me to do the leg work. I decided there and then that I would sell as many books as I possibly could. Luckily I’ve had experience with sales in the past, and although I was a little rusty it definitely helped. Here are my tips:
Approach as many people as possible:
One thing I learnt from doing sales is that you can not judge a book by its cover. My novel is aimed at women between the ages of 18-40 predominantly, but I found that actually the younger women were less inclined to stop and chat to me about the book. Surprisingly I sell just as many books to men at signings, congregating around what I call the man area of a bookshop;( where the computer magazines etc are.) When approached a lot of men are easily persuaded to buy a book as a present for their other half and are very amiable. Women of all ages are happy to chat to you if you have a friendly face and talk to them politely.
Engage People In Conversation
I find it is good to engage people in general conversation to get their interest. People don’t like a hard sell and it makes the day more enjoyable if you have a proper chat to people. I have met a lot of very interesting men and women when doing my signings and it is great to hear their stories too. If people like you they are more likely to want to purchase your book; if they think you are a pushy sales girl they are more likely to walk off.
Don’t be dis-heartened
There are going to be people who love the sound of your book; similarly there will be others who would rather gauge out their own eyeballs than read a suspense novel about an exotic dancer, or whatever your book happens to be about. Don’t be offended, everyone has their own tastes and the more people you ask, the more likely it is that you will meet someone who can’t wait to get stuck into your book. If you don’t ask you don’t get!
No one wants to be approached by a miserable monotone Minnie, with a face like a slapped arse. Who can blame them? So even if you aren’t in the best of spirits, plaster that smile on your face until your cheeks ache and keep it on there until packing up time, by which point it will probably be genuine anyway because you will have had an amazingly productive day and will be feeling rightfully proud of yourself. Fake it till you make it!
Give Out Flyers
To anyone who seems vaguely interested but hasn’t quite taken the bait, give them a business card or leaflet. You never know, when they get home or when they are on the train later they might download a copy onto their kindle, kobo, etc. It is still getting the word out there.
Humour is a great way to connect with people and banter can make all the difference. One line I use regularly at my signings is, “ it’s a first edition book and when I am the next Jackie Collins you can auction off the book and buy a Ferrari; do you like Ferraris?” This line always goes down well and usually results in a sale. And you never know one day just one day, if I keep working hard……
There aren’t many people in the world who get to follow a career path which fills them with passion and enthusiasm. Writing can be a lonely job, and book signings are one of the few times when writers get to mingle and be sociable as part of their work. Make the most of it, not only are signings a great opportunity to promote your book, you never know who you might meet along the way. Have fun, and people will be instantly drawn to you. Be proud of your book and what you’ve achieved and you will be surprised at how positive people’s reactions are towards you!