Securing a Book Signing: Bookstores Really Do Want to Make Money

by Rebecca Roberts, Customer Support Supervisor

The public concept of bookstores used to be fairly straight forward – you would go to a bookstore to buy books.  Now they invite you in with the smell of great coffee, an indie soft rock artist playing in the background, and activities for the kids.  It seems as if this is all to create an improved environment for the good of the customer, but really it increases the time people stay, play, and yes walk out with a handful of books. When it comes to the topic of book signings, the question the manager will be asking themselves, but rarely you, is this:  will you be making the bookstore money?

There is a magical combination of things a bookstore manager is looking to hear when being approached for a book signing by a local author:

1) Your book is available to order, or better yet, has a sales history at their particular store.
Many authors want to jump straight into a book signing with a store that has no history with their book. Before going for the book signing ask if the store will stock a few copies of your book on a trial basis – and when they do – make sure that every copy is sold. The goal of this operation being twofold: to have the store stock your book on a regular basis and to show them that a larger event involving a higher quantity of books will be successful.

2) You have a quality book that their demographic of consumer will be interested in and likely to buy.
When I was a bookstore manager I had a mid- list author approach me about a book signing of her erotica title. I looked the book up (no sales history with our store), but even beyond that I knew that her signing would not do well. Why? Because my store’s top selling categories included spirituality and religion, teen, and children’s.  I am sure that her book was great, but it was not a great fit for our fairly conservative customer base. I suggested she try the bookstore downtown.

3) You will do the heavy lifting.
This is where you as the author can shine. Let the store know that you have posters to put up the day of the event, bookmarks to hand out, and bookplates to sign in case there is a higher demand then there are books.  Don’t expect the store to bring in the crowd, let them know the number of people you are inviting and expect to attend, that you are posting the word about the event around town, either with physical flyers, community postings, a blurb in the community calendar, or via your blog or social media sites

Here is the reality that stores interested in presenting a warm community and literary image aren’t likely to offer up to you:  If you can convince the store that the traffic will significantly increase, that sales will result, and that all you are asking for is a table and space to sign, you may just find yourself behind that table with a pen in your hand.

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4 responses to “Securing a Book Signing: Bookstores Really Do Want to Make Money

  1. IT’S MY MONEY AND I WANT IT is a literal title; a book with that stated aim. I wrote this as a tool for managing personal income and expenses, particularly but not limited to household and medical matters. For a deeper sense of my project you can visit the web site at:
    http://www.claimfinancialhealth.com
    My incentive for this project emerged while listening to friends and associates complain about how badly they were treated by the insurance companies, who have established an adversarial arena in which they reward employees for denying claims. This situation has hit close to home in the past, and I have always successfully dealt with it. Clearly it was time to share my techniques.
    My book provides a step-by-step map through the procedures I employed to successfully navigate the intentionally complex and dense wall of confusion employed to discourage the individual from collecting on valid health claims.
    Dealing with health insurance is one of many subjects approached in IT’S MY MONEY AND I WANT IT. Be sure, this is an empowering tool, which can be applied in day-to-day life as well as emergency situations.
    Readers will receive a free monthly newsletter or update, to assure fresh information is available at all times on numerous other household money subjects.
    Reactions have been amazing. I was endorsed by Steven Strauss of USA Today, and lectured at CW POST/LIU (being requested to return shortly). I recently appeared on JSC Media Radio Show and received an enthusiastic reception.
    I am not pitching a ‘get rich in twenty minutes,’ scheme while posing in front of four yachts, a Corvette, and two mansions. My family and I live modestly but well, and feel blessed with an element of security, earned through the contemplation of life’s experiences. My feet are firmly on the ground, and all I have to offer is a studied insight into the money systems we are subject to. I have paid for these glimpses beyond the surface. I now wish to share them with others.

  2. Hi Harris,
    Thanks for letting us know about your book. Have you had much luck with local retailers letting you participate in book signings? What has been your most successful marketing initiative to date?

    AuthorHive Marketing & Publicity

  3. As of yet, I have not approached any bookstores.
    I have recently starting marketing & I am sending letters out to as many local newspapers as time will permit me each day.
    In addition, I contact small independent radio shows to appear as a guest.
    For the small amount of time I have been able to put into the marketing, reactions have been amazing. I was endorsed by Steven Strauss of USA Today, and lectured at CW POST/LIU (being requested to return shortly). I recently appeared on JSC Media Radio Show and received an enthusiastic reception.

    • Thanks for the information Harris! So far, it sounds as if you are the right track. Traditional book retail is tough these days and is certainly not the end-all, beat-all of success when it comes to selling a book. We have heard from many major retail execs that bookstores are actually the worst place to sell a book because of the competition, low buy in’s and short shelf life which is typically dicated by the buyer based on how quickly (or slowly) a book is selling through the register.

      Keep up the great work and keep us posted on your success!

      AuthorHive Marketing & Publicity

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