How to host a book signing event - WRITE | PUBLISH | SELL

Nov 14, 2017 | Market

How to host a book signing event

host book signing event

So you wrote a book, huh? Excellent!

Now is when the real work begins.

Your new job – as you may have already discovered – is as book promoter. You’ll be coordinating interviews, writing guest blogs, managing PPC ads and doing a host of other activities designed to get the word out about your new book.

And the best way to create a buzz and get people excited about your book? A good old-fashioned book signing. Imagine a crowd of eager fans all waiting for you to appear, read a bit from your latest bestseller, and answer questions. It’s the scene that’s filled many would-be authors’ daydreams, and now that you have a book, it can become your reality.

All it takes is a little planning and organization to have a great book signing event.

When you think of a book signing, do you picture a bespectacled author sitting at a table in the back of a bookstore, patiently waiting for customers to notice her?

That’s what a lot of us think of when we consider a signing event, and while that used to be the norm, today’s book signings look very different. Your event can be anything you want it to be, because you have complete control (unless your publisher is footing the bill, in which case, follow their lead).

Your event can be:

  • Casual or formal – you set the tone
  • Indoors or out – imagine a book about healthy living with a reading in the local park
  • Structured or not – freeform readings and Q&A sessions can be more inviting than a strictly scheduled event
  • In a bar! Think outside the box – you get to create the tone for your events

As you can see, your book signing can be whatever you choose to make of it. Bookstores are just one option, but there are many others, depending on where your market likes to hang out and the specific topic of your book.

For example, if you’ve written a book about your life as a pro golfer, book-signing events on a driving range or in the clubhouse are a natural fit. If your subject is how to build an online business and live the laptop lifestyle, consider a beachside signing instead.

Here’s something else to consider: where is your audience? Ideally, you’ll want to host your book signing event where it’s convenient and comfortable for them. Some popular options include:

  • Bookstores
  • Libraries
  • Boutique markets
  • Industry conferences
  • Festivals
  • Other fun places – to include museums and tourist elements – I saw a WW2 Veteran host a signing in the market at the Biltmore Estates on Veteran’s Day

You may find that you have better luck booking events in off-the-wall locations. The reason is that big bookstores often have deals with publishers in which they get paid to host events. If you’re not willing to pay – and the cost can be steep – you likely won’t get large booksellers to host you. There are two ways around this:

  1. Opt for smaller venues. Approach independent bookstores instead, since they’re less likely to have prior agreements with big publishing houses. (And, there’s nothing wrong with thinking outside of the box and hosting in a bar or another fun place! You just have to coordinate. One of our authors is hosting a book signing in a museum in conjunction with an exhibition that makes sense with her book. Don’t limit yourself.)
  2. Speak directly to the store manager and make it clear that you want to do an impromptu event, not a formal signing. You won’t get the advanced press you might otherwise get, but you’ll make up for it in walk-in traffic.

If you go through a bookstore, the bookstore must be able to order copies of your book, so be sure you’re working with a publisher that allows that option. If you’re self-publishing or using a small press or self-assisted publishing model, make sure they are publishing your book through IngramSpark. You can also offer to bring your own stock if the bookstore will allow it.

Of course, all of that can be avoided by being a little more creative with your signing location.

While you’re considering your location, don’t forget to keep timing in mind as well. If your book is closely tied to a holiday or other event, you’ll do well to schedule your signing accordingly. For example, if your book is all about how to romance your husband after years of marriage, January and February are the perfect choice for your signing events, since you can easily tie in with Valentine’s Day. On the other hand, if you’ve written about crafting for holiday bazaars, July is ideal, since that’s when most people will get started with their holiday sales plans.

Long before your event takes place, you’ll need to start building a buzz about it. Letting people know – and then reminding them often – is critical to your event success, and the more press you can get, the better.

The best way to start is with your own blog and social media accounts as well as your email list. Create an upcoming events page on your site and list all the locations where you’ll be speaking or where you’ll have a book signing. Create social friendly images to share on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter. Write blog posts about your book and be sure to mention your next events.

If you don’t already have a Facebook page for your book, now is the time to set one up. Create Facebook events for each book signing, and personally invite Facebook friends who are in the area. Steer clear of mass invites of everyone you know, however. Local, offline events can realistically only be attended by those in the area, so inviting people you know won’t be able to attend is just annoying.

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