How to Score a Successful Book Signing Event at a National Chain
- Have a professionally published book. If you can’t meet this requirement, the rest of these instructions are useless. The content must be marketable. Would-be authors should walk the aisles of their local Barnes & Noble and examine the books. Really examine the books. They’ll see well-designed covers, well-constructed books, subject matter that is interesting and timely, and (of course) great writing. What they won’t see is books that “look self-published.” If you’re not familiar with this industry phrase, it means “sucky-looking.”
- Call or stop by the store you’ve targeted for your book event. Ask to speak with a store manager or the manager that coordinates author events. Be sure you’re able to succinctly communicate to the manager the following items:
- Who you are and why you’re interested in holding an event in this particular store
- A brief synopsis of your book
- The book’s ISBN (org by Bowker), genre, and release date
- Why a book event would be good for the store and its customers
- How the store can procure copies for the proposed event
- You’ve successfully scheduled an event. Congratulations! But your work is just beginning. Keep in mind, the store provides the venue, access to its customers, and minimal promotion (like putting the event on their online calendar, but not much else) – the rest is up to you. That means mobilizing your friends, family, and groups you believe will be interested in supporting your event. I urge authors to reach out to local media, and by local media, I mean community newspapers, local radio shows, local bloggers, not The Washington Post or the Los Angeles Times. Sorry, but unless you’re J.K. Rowling or an established bestselling author, Oprah is probably not going to bring attention to your book event. Harsh, I know.
- The day of the event has finally arrived, so what’s expected of you? Simple. Follow the guidelines established by your host store. They’ve held many signings before yours, and will hold many signings after. They have a system in place and, if you ever want to be invited back, you must get with the program. That means create a poster exactly like they want, offer a giveaway (like a bookmark) that falls within their guidelines, and stick to your allotted timeslot. If you’re not sure about something you’ve planned, always ask in advance.
- My last bit of advice is to simply have fun. It’s rewarding to know you sparked the creation of something tangible that entertains, educates, is thought-provoking, and ultimately, is appreciated. This is your moment to shine…take a moment to bask in the glory! Part of basking process includes taking plenty of pictures and sharing the photos on social media, writing about your experience, and letting potential readers in on the buzz your book has created.
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