I’ve been there. The bookstore book signing is so quiet you can hear a pin drop. This does not feel good for the author or for the bookstore.
So how do you make sure your book signing events are busy, engaging people, and selling lots of books?
Collaborate on Pre-Event Book Signing Marketing
Ensure you meet or talk with the bookstore or book event host to plan out a shared marketing campaign.
Typically bookstores do little to promote the signings; however, here are the things that bookstores (Chapters, Coles, and independent stores) have done in the past to promote book signings when efforts to collaborate result in a coordinated plan ahead of time:
Arrange for in-store event signage to be displayed on large posters in the store two weeks before the event.
Arrange for invitation bag stuffers (a small flyer that is put in customers’ bags two weeks leading up to the event).
Create Facebook event pages. You do one and ask the store to do one as well. You both have different friends and followers on Facebook, so this ensures a wider audience.
Plan and carry out a pre-event social media campaign.
Ask the bookstore to create a press release (they may write it or you can write and provide to them) and send to local media.
Provide the store manager with a couple of copies of your book for staff to read. If staff read your book, they can better help promote or recommend the book at the upcoming signing event.
Mail and email invitations.
Invite local author and writers’ associations, clubs, and groups.
Selling More Books During the Book Signing
Here are a few strategies to do at the event to sell more books:
Do a short presentation followed by a Q&A session. Include mention of these features in all promotions. Readers really want to know the author behind the book.
Create a postcard for people to purchase a bulk set of books (e.g. to donate to a charity or gift to people) such as set of 5, 10, 25, or a box.
Do a raffle prize for a gift basket which includes your book. Collect business cards and email addresses (do NOT add people to a database without their permission), and send them a thank you email for attending the book signing. Now that you know all their names, connect on social media, including LinkedIn. You can let them know about other events and promotions of your book (e.g. a Christmas special).
If you have more than one book, bundle them up for a great price.
Ask the bookstore to do announcements during your book signing to announce you are there, the title of your book, and to come on over to the signing area to meet you.
Have an interesting, captivating, or compelling table to encourage people to actually come over to the table. A table with you and your books is not enough.
Ensure there is in-store signage.
Collaborate with a charity to create a BOGO (Buy One Gift One) offer. Select a community charity to donate some books to. Invite the charity to also help promote the book and have someone from the organization show up to the signing event. During your author presentation and Q&A session, invite people to buy two books (one for them and the second to donate to the charity). Provide a few minutes for the charity to talk about who they are, what they do, and where or to whom the books will be going. This strategy doubled our sales at every event.
Ask the store to buy a small quantity of books (e.g. 5-10) to sell in the store after the event is over and help the store promote the fact your books are available there.