Someone in another LinkedIn group argued recently that book signings are a waste of time. I could not disagree more. They can be a great way to promote your book, your business and your professional expertise, assuming the signings are well-planned and executed. For example:
• They take place at the “right” kind of store. Generally, this means a bookstore with a reputation for doing lots of signings. More often than not, the will be an independent, not part of a chain.
• They are promoted well. There is nothing worse than sitting at a table next to a stack of your books and being ignored by book buyers, which is likely to be your fate if the store where your signing takes place did not make people aware of the event. Ideally, the store you work with will do the following:
-- announce your event in its online newsletter and/or send an email about the signing to its customers
-- use in-store signage to alert people to your signing
-- list the signing on local event calendars
If you are well known in your community and so the store expects to sell a lot of your books, it may also spend money advertising your signing.
Other Ingredients for Book Signing Success
• Don’t rely on the store to do everything – promote your upcoming event too. For example, blog and tweet about it; post information about it on Facebook and other social media networking sites on which you are active; put information about the event on your website; let your clients and potential clients know about it in your enewsletter and/or via an email; and invite your professional associates to the signing.
• Use the media. Schedule media interviews about one or more interesting topics in your book before a book signing. When you do, let the reporter, producer or host know about the when and where of your signing. Most of them will be good about helping to promote it.
• Do more than just autograph books at your book signings. For example, give a short talk at the start of your event and then take questions from the audience. This can be a great way to engage potential book buyers.
• Think beyond bookstores. No need to limit your book signings to book stores. Depending on the topic of your book, you may want to approach a computer store, gardening center, a local chapter of an association of professionals likely to be interested in your book, your local library or history center, nonprofits, private clubs, the rotary club, your chamber of commerce and the like about your giving a talk, putting on a workshop, and signing books. Again, if you go this route, be sure there is a promotion plan in place.
• Consider donating a percentage of the proceeds from your book signing sales to a local nonprofit. Given that the nonprofit stands to benefit if lots of people attend your event, it’s likely to do what it can to let its supporters know about it. Also, a charitable tie-in can sometimes make it easier to schedule media interviews.
One final word of advice… Generally, signings in your community or in other locales where your business has a strong presence work best. However, if your book begins to take off, you may want to try scheduling interviews and signings in other markets, especially if you know people there who can help you get the word out about your event or who might be willing to host a signing on your behalf.