Tag Archives: Local

Beyond the Bookstore: Boost Your Self-Promotion Efforts

by Megan Leiter, Event Coordinator

Don’t be afraid to get exposure for your book outside of the typical bookstore and library book signings. There will be other authors vying for those library and book signing slots. Thinking “outside of the box” and delving into untapped resources to garner exposure may give you that extra edge in your book promotion. Here are some suggestions:

Places of Learning.  Depending on the subject of your book, you may need to tailor the age range you seek for a speech but I highly suggest arranging a visit to a local school or university. Some elementary schools host reading nights where kids can attend the event with their parents and it’s not a bad place to try and sell your book after the speech. Also, at the college level, professors may consider having you as a guest speaker for a class during the semester or using your book as a supplement for their students’ course work.

Conventions and Fairs.  Scout out conventions, fairs and festivals in your state and/or surrounding states to see if you can connect the subject matter of your book to an event happening in your area. For example, if there’s a nursing convention in your state capital and you have a medical-related book, having a booth at the convention to sell your books and talk to people or ask to be a keynote speaker may be a great idea. Find ways to connect yourself to community and area events.

Churches.  Churches bring in speakers to give lectures to their congregations through workshops, seminars, etc. If you have a self-help, motivational, spiritual, relationship guide, or any other topic appropriate for a church audience, this could be a great outlet to make connections and relationships and get your book in the church bookstore or available for a group study.

There are so many more places you could seek out to promote yourself and your book without being the typical, run of the mill establishments –community centers, senior living communities, museums, businesses, rotary clubs and lodges, and more. Get creative!

Where have you hosted your most successful book event?

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.

Book Signing Basics: Don’t Just Sit There and Look Pretty

by Jessica Barrett, Events Manager

This past weekend I assisted several authors with bookstore signings at a major retailer. I learned a lot. I think the authors learned a lot. Some things are beyond the author’s control like store traffic & weather. Some things may be in the gray area of control such as in-store placement, signage, and announcements. And some things are very much in the author’s control.  As the author, you need to take control of your signing. Be approachable, active and be your own advertising agency.

Being approachable simply means smiling. Look inviting and open. Even if the crowd is light and the day isn’t going as planned, you need to keep the smile on your face throughout your event. Nothing turns away a potential customer like a scowl.

Being active means you need to seek out readers. Products, and especially books, don’t sell themselves. Don’t just sit there and smile, get out from behind your table and talk to shoppers, starting with those who are milling about your book’s genre section or those that have just entered the store. Engage them. Encourage them to read the back cover. Have a polished elevator speech and pitch the plot in 30 seconds – if you’re not succinct and confident when discussing your book, what does that say to your potential reader?

Being your own advertising agency means that you need to do your legwork prior to your signing. The store will likely not be of much assistance. Meet with them prior to the event and set expectations by telling them what you’d like for your signing. Suggest table location, provide a 25-word blurb announcement they can make periodically during your signing to let shoppers know you’re in the store, request they put your signing on their website and ask to put posters up in advance – in the entryway, near the restrooms (usually there is a bulletin board there) and in the café. Put flyers up around town – at the library, coffee shop and other places readers congregate. Send postcards, emails and post on Facebook and other social media.  Alert local events sites when and where your event is. Inviting family and friends may not result in many sales as they likely already have your book, but having a crowd around your table intrigues people and makes them more willing to stop by and see what’s going on.

Whether your signing meets your expectations or not is dependent on many factors. Remember each time you do a signing you’re gaining knowledge of what works and doesn’t and most importantly you’re gaining exposure … so smile!

Indie Author Community Outreach

by Shelley Rogers, Marketing Manager

One question I’m frequently asked by independent/self published authors is, “….how do I go about getting a booksigning with a major book retailer?”

Unfortunately, it’s not a fun question to answer because often, requests to major book retailers by indie author’s result in a negative response or ignored altogether.  In defense of book retailers, over one million books a year are published so logically and logistically, it would be impossible for every published author to be hosted at an instore event.  However, the reality and restraints of this industry does not minimize the sting of not being invited to the party.

Author Solutions, Inc. announced on Wednesday that they will be sponsoring book signings for several of its independent authors at select Borders stores October 8-10 in Seattle, Washington and Indianapolis, Indiana.  The goal of these signings is to connect local authors with readers in their community. 

“We’re pleased to be working with Borders to support Indie Author Weekend. Bookstores like Borders serve an important role as a community gathering place, and we believe events like these, which feature local authors, strengthen the bond between a community and its bookstore,” said Kevin Weiss, ASI president and chief executive officer.

Kudo’s to Borders for connecting local grown authors with their immediate community while acknowledging the voice and relevance of the independent writer. 

For a list of participating stores and authors, check out the following link: http://www.prweb.com/releases/author_solutions/indie_book_weekend/prweb4614154.htm

Events: Thinking Outside the Bookstore

by Jessica Barrett, Events Manager

Bookstores seem like obvious, ideal places to hold a book signing. While they seem obvious, they may not be ideal for your book. Bookstores contain thousands of titles on a multitude of topics. Where does your book fit into their shelves? And I mean fit in, tuck away, go virtually unnoticed among the myriad titles and non-book items stores now carry. Sometimes you need to think outside of the store. Literally, outside.

Have you written a gluten-free cookbook? Or a history of agriculture in your county? If so, consider setting up a booth at your local farmers’ market and conduct a signing there. Is your book about WWII? Consider setting up at your local VFW or during a Memorial Day or Veterans’ Day event.  Perhaps your book is about equine or large animal care? Then maybe a table at your state fair is the place for you.  Fantasy or SciFi book? Check out gaming stores, gatherings and conventions.

When looking to promote and sell your book through signings, get out a pen and paper, start brainstorming and consider the following:

Niche & Genre:  Let’s say your book is a gluten-free cookbook. Clearly, it falls under the Cookbook category, but couldn’t it also fall under Health & Fitness, Education, Family & Relationships and Medical? When you expand your book’s subjects, you expand your opportunities.

Know your audience and their habits:  Using the same book, think of who your audience is.  Those with Celiac and their families are potential readers, and beyond that, think nurses, nutritionists, health food store owners, chefs, and the list goes on.  After identifying your audience consider their hangouts – health food stores, hospitals, restaurants.

Search creatively:  Armed with your book’s subjects and audience, you’re ready to get creative. Start with Google. Enter your key words and search. I typed “gluten-free” and “recipes” and “Indianapolis” and over 100,000 results popped-up. Some aren’t helpful, but many are.  I found a local TV station’s site which has a community events tab.  There I found an upcoming food event where I could hold a book signing. Beyond the Google search, check your local hospital, parks dept, community newspapers, neighborhood associations and chamber of commerce sites and find out about upcoming events.

When you think outside of the bookstore, you step into a world of opportunity. Widen your subject,  go to where your audience is and watch your sales grow.