Tag Archive | book signing ideas

Rethinking Book Signings : One Writerly Dude’s Approach

I’ve always wanted to build a better book signing, and with the launch of my book tour this past weekend I think I may have done it (cue Dr. Frankenstein’s laughter of the demented). There are valid reasons why I wanted to change things up this time around.

When I published a very small book years ago, I went on a mini-tour that included about 7 signings, most at mom and pop bookstores, and a few large chain stores. I had mixed results. The majority involved me sitting behind a table, hoping someone would look my way and take a peek at the book. I’ve noticed that a lot of people are wary of approaching authors. Trust me, we’re happy to talk to you, and almost all of us don’t bite! I was usually able to sell a handful of books at the mom and pops.

I had two nightmare signings, both at major outlets. One was on the 4th of July. Naturally, no one was in the store! To make things worse, they put me under a sky light so the 95 degree sun could melt me to the chair. The only thing I succeeded in doing was convincing the lone customer not to buy Hilary Clinton’s book that was on display behind me.

The next one was even worse. I’m not a public speaker. Well, when I got there, they had set up a podium and about forty chairs and expected me to read from my book. Lucky for stammering me, the only people in those chairs were my wife, her friend and a support group for people with hepatitis-C, who were busy holding their own meeting and  not paying attention to me. I sold 1 whole book that night, which was an improvement over the zero sold on Independence Day.

I’ve attended my fair share of author signings and have come to the conclusion that I hate author readings. Unless they are classically trained in the art of acting and public speaking, their voice interferes with the voice I then bring to the book when I read it. Very few enhance the experience.

So as I geared up to promote Forest of Shadows, I feverishly tried to come up with a unique way of making a book signing a bigger, better experience for those who come to see me. Heck, they’re going out of their way to attend, I better give them a show to justify their precious time.

To erase my bad experiences of the past, I made sure I got a signing at a Barnes & Noble. Big time, big pressure. 🙂

What I did next  was examine my genre, the topic of my book, and other things I have done to promote it all along and combined them into what I felt was a fun, informative evening. Here’s the game plan:

  • My book is a fictional story about a ghost hunter. So, I decided to focus on ghosts in general, not just the ones in my book.
  • I do a video podcast called The Monster Men where my buddy and I talk about all things horror and scary. We went back to look at episodes where we talked about ghosts and created a 10 minute video. It centered on my ghost trips to The Queen Mary, The Manhattan Bistro and my own experience in a haunted hotel room in Spain.
  • I created a slide show that showed all kinds of ghost pictures, as well as intermittent slides showing my website and logo. I added some sinister music to it as well. As people filtered in, I had the slideshow and music going to get and hold their attention.
  • I started by asking what people believed in (Bigfoot, UFOs, Ghosts) and handed out candy prizes for those brave enough to raise their hands. This got them involved and gave them sugar rushes! I also kept a bowl of cookies on the table.
  • I talked a little about the book and wove humor with the horror throughout. I showed the video, stopping every now and then to add a funny anecdote or two.I also made sure I was on my feet and walking around, making eye contact with everyone. As an added benefit, it helped me burn off nervous energy.
  • After the video, I talked a little more about the book, just for a couple of minutes, and asked people to share their own paranormal stories.
  • Then it was time to sign! I also created a posterboard of the cover of  my book at Staples for $10 and asked them to sign it for me as I signed their book. Now I have a great keepsake and they had a blast signing it. How many authors ask their readers for their autograph?
  • Lastly, I created postcards that promote my next book, website and Monster Men podcast and put them in each book.

 

The key to everything was to have fun and make it a great night. I keep thinking I’ll bring a smoke machine to the next one, but my kids roll their eyes on that suggestion.

Best of all, I started with a table loaded with books and came a hair from a total sellout. There were only a couple left by the end of the night, which I signed so they can display them prominently in the store.

Now, I’m not saying this is the definitive way to do your own signing. You have to do what you’re comfortable with. Be creative. Make ‘em laugh. Be interactive. If you can do all three, you’re in for a hell of a night.

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