Friday, September 26, 2008

Killer Campaign--Are Booksignings Effective?

By Heather Moore

This blog installment is part of a killer campaign organized by Maria Zannini. Today several fellow authors will be blogging about booksignings, the good, the bad, and the ugly. To find out what other authors are saying today about booksignings, jump over to Maria's killer campaign post.

Here's my take:

In this era of internet marketing, booksignings are not necessarily as important as they used to be. Or are they?

When you read about new books coming out by bestselling authors, you can click on their websites and see a list of booksignings they have scheduled. But it seems that they are becoming fewer in number.

Over the years, I’ve had great booksignings and not-so-great ones. You just never know if it’s the weather, the local rival football game, American Idol finals, etc. that keep people home.

So whether you choose to do them or not, I have lots of tips.

1. Bring something to hand out. This breaks the ice and allows you to introduce yourself. I’ve handed out bookmarks or author cards, by saying very simply, “Have you heard about my book. It’s about _____________ ______________ ______________.” That’s the ten second approach. The customer will take the bookmark (98% of the time) and read it when you’re no longer staring at them.

2. Have your table near the front door, or near the register. This will allow you to either 1) greet each person as they come in, or 2) chat with the people standing in line. Ideally, it’s nice for a store employee to stand with you and introduce you to customers. Oh yeah, don’t EVEN plan on sitting. Stand, walk around, approach people.

3. A candy dish? I usually eat more than anyone else, and it doesn’t seem to help my sales. Of course, if you are writing for kids, you will get more attention from them. But if you bring a treat for the store employees . . . now that might make a difference.

4. Back to the store employees—it’s what a booksigning is all about. Surprised? Your job as an author is to get to know the employees, find out what they like to read. In essence, ask THEM questions. This makes them your new friend, and you can bet that the next day when they’re working a long shift, they’ll be recommending you left and right. Even if they haven’t read your book yet.

5. If the store isn’t going to provide posters or fliers about your booksigning, then drop by a couple weeks in advance (or mail) and provide them yourself. All of my books have been released in the fall, and I’ve found that I see just as much store traffic during a Friday lunch hour than I do a Saturday afternoon (yeah, it’s the football games). You might consult with the store manager about a good day and time.

6. Back to bookmarks. I like them because I can get a cover jpeg, a couple of endorsements, and my website all on the bookmark. Then with the store manager’s permission, I’ll walk around the store and slip my bookmark in other books that are similar to mine. Hmmm. The advertising that continues long after you’re gone.

7. Try an attention-getter at your table. Hold a drawing or bring an article of interest that goes with your book. Writing about a Mayan mystery? Bring a look-a-like ancient Mayan sword. Have a romance? One friend had a magnetic bulletin board and the customer gets to pick a number off of the board. Depending on what it says, the customer gets a candy bar, etc . . .

8. When you chat with a customer, keep your book pitch very brief. You can tell by their eye contact if they’re interested beyond the 10 second pitch. Then turn the tables and ask them, “So, what kind of books do you like to read?” Suddenly they perk up and chances are, they’ll make their way back to your table, or purchase your book on their next store visit.

9. NEWSLETTER SIGN-UPS. Yes, there’s a reason it’s in all caps. A NY Times Bestselling author told me this should be my #1 strategy. Both on your website, and at a booksigning, you should be capturing emails. Offer a newsletter sign-up sheet. Then promote it by saying you include reviews, recipes, other author interviews, or giveaway contests. And of course, your list won’t be shared with anyone. As long as they don’t unsubscribe from your list, you’ll have them part of your target audience for life. One last thing on newsletters. Don’t send anything out more than once a month, quarterly is best. You don’t want to be annoying, but you don’t want to be forgotten either.

10. Be patient. It wasn’t until my third book came out that I had people showing up to my booksignings to meet me specifically. These were mostly people that signed up for my newsletter at an earlier booksigning or on my website. They ended up buying a book, liking it, and wanting to come back for another.

1 comment:

Maria Zannini said...

Thanks for joining in the book signing round up, Heather. I learned something new from all of you.

You said: Be patient. It wasn’t until my third book...

Oh no! I'd be despondent by then. But good to know that it does take a while and not to lose hope.