Tips for Local and National Book Signing Events
by Nicholas Nebelsky
If I can tell you one thing about organizing a large-scale book-signing event, it’s to get all of your ducks in a row. This blog post is for authors but also for self-publishers. A traditional publisher would likely handle a lot of the logistics and some of the marketing and PR for you (that is, if you’re already a popular author). Since a so many authors self-publish these days, this guide will help a lot of you out there who are attempting the same thing that I successfully accomplished. The following are the things I did to pull together eight signing events in two states over a one-month period in major retail stores. Looking back on it, I’m amazed I was able to pull it off. I’m hoping my experience will help others who are attempting to accomplish something similar.
Before you even attempt to approach a large retailer, you must be ready to agree to sell your books at a 55 percent discount AND you must be willing to accept returns. (A return means that the store will send back unsold books for a full refund, paid for by the publisher – in the case that you’re self-publishing, that means you!) It may seem very enticing to sell a large quantity of books at first, but are you able to handle a large quantity of books coming back into your inventory as returns?
Before you approach a large retailer, make sure you look good.
- Create a slick catalog of your book selections. Make sure you have at least two titles; more is better.
- Make sure you have a marketing plan you can share with the retailer. They want to know what steps you’re taking to sell more books.
- If you have a banner, make sure it’s professionally done.
- Have bookmarks and stickers to give away.
How Established Are You?
I often tell my clients who are thinking about a national campaign to plan out what they want to do first. My books were published in early 2013, and less than two months later I was in a local Barnes and Noble store and in eight Costco Warehouses. Realistically, that’s not enough time to do everything you need to do.
- You have to have the infrastructure to handle all that goes into a large-scale book signing tour.
- Don’t go at it alone. I was the author, the illustrator, and the publisher; that’s three distinct jobs that may sound exciting, but in the end is a lot of work. When you go this route, you will more than likely be spreading yourself too thin. It’s a good idea to reach out to experts in the field for assistance.
- If you’re operating out of your house, make sure you have the space for your inventory – both going out the door into shops, as well as coming back in as returns. And make sure your spouse/family are okay with that giant pile of boxes.
Have a Sit-Down
No I’m not talking about with the Godfather.
- Meet with a fellow author who has already had a successful book-signing event. This is SO important! Take notes, probe, and ask a lot of questions. Ask them about good and bad experiences.
- Talk to an expert such as Laura Orsini, our faithful Meetup organizer and host of Phoenix Publishing and Book Promotion. She is a wealth of quality information. I wish I knew about her last year before my book-signing tour.
Have a Logistics Plan
Is your end goal to sell books or to get out in front of your people?
I don’t have the space to tell you everything you need to know for each of these goals, but this is important. It’s just like writing your book. A lot of experts say it’s best to write the ending first. You have to know where you want to go before you can get there.
You have to plan out everything. And believe me, there is a lot of planning that needs to go into this. That’s why it’s best to involve other experts.
There is so much that goes into a national book signing. If you’re serious about tackling a local or national book event, contact me. I’m available for consultations and have a lot of winning strategies that will make your life a lot easier and the process lest costly, along with some really cool strategies that will wow your audience.
For more than 30 years, Nicholas Nebelsky has created everything from greeting cards to short stories to children’s books to trade show presentations to screenplays and radio dramas. He currently spends his days listening to a lot of music while writing his first YA novel and contemplating his next venture. For additional information, please visit his web site.