Saturday, 22 April 2017

Book signings Part 2: What to do on the day

Two weeks ago, we published a post on Julie McGowan's tips for how to prepare for book signings. Following her guest post on her talk to the WI, we thought this would be a good moment to publish the second part of Julie's tips on book signings and this one covers what to do on the day itself, so over to Julie again:

Julie with fellow Sunpenny author
Michelle Jayne Heatley 

On the Day

1. Wear something colourful so that you stand out – I usually go for red as it’s supposed to be the most welcoming.

2. Before you start, have a chat with your host and ask them how they want you to sell – some chains have a form for you to fill in, some are happy just for you to tell the customer to take the book to the till.

3. If you haven’t done so when you delivered the posters, make sure your table is in a good place and don’t be afraid to ask for it to be moved. Most managers are really amenable because they want you to have a pleasant experience in their store, and as long as walkways are kept free etc they are receptive to alternative suggestions.

4. Sunpenny books don’t have prices on them, so make sure the store knows what to charge. Big stores like WH Smith will provide price stickers which they like you  to place on the lower right side of the front cover as long as it’s not obliterating the title or your name. (You can save some of the stickers for other signings in smaller shops that may not provide them)

5. Take some more posters or other info about your book to decorate the table so people can see what it is, and stack the books attractively on the table.

6. Don’t sit on your chair behind your table waiting for people to approach you because mostly they won’t. The majority will actually find a different way round the store so that they don’t have to pass your table. (I’ve done it myself-haven’t you?!) Only sit on the chair to actually sign a book.

7. Instead, stand beside your table, smiling affably at all around, holding your ‘hook’ in your hands.  When you see your typical reader browsing the shelves, or about to mount the stairs, or join the queue to pay for their newspaper, go up to them, and offer them the ‘hook’ (hand-out/ biscuit/ chocolate/ whatever) and say something like ‘Hello, I’m promoting my book here in the store today, which you may be interested in. It’s a novel about (very quick description here) and there are lots of copies on the table if you’d like to come and have a look.’ If there’s an event coming up, add something like ‘A signed copy will make a great Christmas/Easter/Valentine’s/Mother’s Day/Father’s Day present.’

8. Even better, take someone with you who can do all this enticing around the store or at the door as people come in. (My husband hates doing it, my daughter-in-law is brilliant at it!) Incidentally, I always reassure the store manager that I won’t be bludgeoning shoppers to buy my book but I will be giving out information about it. If you keep your affable smile on your face until your cheeks ache, most managers are happy for you to do this.

9. Keep a simple tally of how many books you sell to check with the store at the end.

10. When you have had enough – I usually go for 2 to 3 hours, unless I’m doing exceptionally well and the store is really busy – tell the manager what a great time you’ve had, even if it’s been murder and ask if he/she would take a couple of copies to put on the shelves. If yes, make sure you issue a delivery note and keep a copy yourself so that the store can be invoiced later by Sunpenny.

11. In subsequent weeks, it’s always worth calling in to the store to see if they have sold any copies so you can offer them some more if they have.

Sometimes, Julie says, you will even be asked to
hold people's dogs for them!

 Encouraging Comments

The first book signing can be terrifying and demoralising if you don’t sell lots of books, but each one will get easier. No two stores are alike. I’ve sold loads of books in stores where I thought it would hardest and fewer in stores that I thought would be a dream. So if one signing isn’t too successful don’t be downhearted, the next will be better, and you will be that much more confident.

Try not to mind the rebuffs – I’ve had them all from ‘I don’t read books’ (so why are you in a bookstore?) to ‘Not interested thank you, but will you just hold onto my two dogs while I have a look round?’ (and of course I did, still with the smile on my face!)

You will feel so much better once you have sold that first book. You will also feel so much better once you have made that first approach to someone and had a little chat. But don’t spend too long with them as you may then be missing other potential customers.

Set yourself a reasonable target  - I’m going to keep doing this until I’ve sold 5 books – pat yourself on the back if you achieve it, which I’m sure you will – and then set a further target.

Remember that even if people don’t buy your book on that day they will have gone home with your hand-out which they may look at again and recall. It’s all good publicity.

Don’t expect to sell many in a small independent shop where there may not be a lot of customers all day.

Try to get friends and family to call in, even if they all have copies already. If they pick up copies to have a look at, other shoppers will be interested. A crowd always attracts a crowd.

Someone will invariably think you work there and ask where the envelopes/biros/travel books are. Make sure you give them the info about your book before finding someone who can help them!

Send in a brief account of your signing, with pics if possible, to your local paper along with a reminder of where your next signing will be.

 Finally, remember…..
No matter how difficult you may be finding it, keep in mind that  it’s only two hours or so and you can go home for a cup of tea/coffee/strong drink/lie down... or, more hopefully, a celebration of how well you’ve done!

Many thanks to Julie for her great tips and insights into how to conduct a book signing. Our next posts will be focus on some of the recent events our authors have been involved in, so come back and visit us again soon!

1 comment:

Vallypee said...

These tips are so useful, Julie! I wish I had a new book to promote in a bookstore!