POWER OF THE GROUP: How to have a great group signing event
by Laura Orsini
Members of the Phoenix Publishing & Book Promotion Meetup recently put the power of the group to work as we took a booth at the annual Phoenix Festival of the Arts. Perhaps because we were the only booth focused on book sales, we did really well – much better, in fact, than we did with a larger group of authors at the Tucson Festival of Books in March.
Here are a few tips for conducting your own successful group signing event:
- Start planning early. There’s a lot involved in even a small event, so you’ll need the time to pull it all together.
- Know that participants will cancel – even at the last minute. Have a clear cancellation policy in place.
- Hold a planning meeting where all participants have input into how the event will go.
- Purchase a banner or sign that clearly identifies your group.
- Create a PDF with sample chapters from all participating authors to give away. We used this postcard as a giveaway. The QR code goes directly to the download of our sampler. The bit.ly address is to our Meetup group. Each author had personalized cards to hand out.
- Coordinate signing times for those attending. Our event was three days long, and each author had at least four opportunities across those three days to staff the booth and sell and sign books.
- Ask for help. It’s an immense amount of work to set up a booth that looks inviting to the public. Ask your team for help – don’t just assume they’ll pitch in.
- Determine whether there will be one central location for handling the sales or if all authors will manage their own transactions.
- Have lots of display space for all the authors’ books. We had two book cases – and each author had plenty of books stacked in front of them for their specific signing times.
- Be sure all the authors are familiar with each others’ books. If someone perused our book cases and picked up the book from an author who wasn’t present at the moment, making a sale was still easy if we all knew what the book was about and were willing to help out the absent author.
- Do something to attract attention! We had a Discount Angel – booth visitors were encouraged to draw a “gift” and unwrap it to reveal a percentage off on their purchase. This requires the buy-in of all participants.
- We also had a loud, obnoxious set of bright green Christmas bells we rang every time we made a sale. At least one author sold an additional book because one visitor wanted to hear the bells ring again!
- Stop being so tight-fisted with your books – be willing to give some away. Seriously. Far too many authors are so worried about making every sale that they miss the opportunity to create goodwill by offering discounts (if someone buys one book, give them the second at a discount, for crying out loud!) or simply giving the occasional book away. Yep – this means abundance thinking instead of lack thinking. It means a generosity of spirit we may not always feel, especially if our bank accounts are not overflowing. But it works. I’ve written extensively on this topic on my own blog – here’s a post that sums it up well.
- Pitch in to offer a big gift in order to gather people’s email addresses. We pooled our resources to offer a $100 gift card to a LOCAL bookstore.
- Remind your authors to be respectful of each others’ sales opportunities. Regardless of how perfect your book would be for a booth visitor, if that person is talking with another author, you sit your butt down, zip your lips, or walk away until the visitor has completely finished their conversation with the first author. Intentional or not, butting in for any reason is interfering with the first author’s sale. Remember the Golden Rule!
There’s nothing like a group signing event to demonstrate the power of the group. You can do it in your own community! Someone just needs to be willing to take the lead.
LAURA ORSINI is a self-publishing consultant who works with authors who want to change the world. From concept to publication to the first-time author’s book launch, her expertise will help you make a better book and find more readers. Laura is the organizer of the Phoenix Publishing and Book Promotion Meetup, creator of the Holiday Author Event, and conjuror of many other author opportunities. She will explore the power of the group in her posts for this group blog. In the meantime, read her regular posts at Marcie Brock – Book Marketing Maven. Friend her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, and check out her pins on Pinterest.