Booksignings are something authors love to do or hate to do. There seems to be very little middle ground. Saturday I had one at a new-to-me store, Open Door Bookstore in Terre Haute, Indiana.
Why would I drive two hours to sell a few books?
1. I want to support the local Christian bookstores. I didn’t know this ahead of time, but Open Door is a beautiful free-standing store. It’s the kind of store I would shop in and spend lots of money in if we had one locally. The staff was friendly and knowledgeable and the fiction section was HUGE! If a local store is going to ask me to sign, I will try to make it work. While I was there, I helped sell books and cards. Fun!
2. I sold books. And the people I met had never read my books. In fundraising, we call that donor acquisition. In publishing, I call that reader acquisition. Without readers, publishers aren’t going to be interested in more of my books.
3. I tried a couple new things. Sitting at a table watching people avoid eye contact is not fun. So I grabbed a stack of my bookmarks and circled the store several times. Each time I would hand a bookmark to a customer, let them know I was there, and then keep moving. Everyone took a bookmark. Even if they didn’t buy a book that day, they now have information about me and my books. I also introduced myself to the staff. Once I did, the gals at the check-out counter started telling people I was there and even sold some books for me. I bet they’ll remember me later, too.
4. I set a goal on the number of books I wanted to sell. Guess what? I hit it. I also stayed a few extra minutes to make sure I got over my goal. It helped me step out of my comfort zone and talk to a few more people.
5. I added the booksigning on my way to another event. That way I wasn’t driving two hours just for a signing. Instead, it made for a longer day, but a very efficient day where I met new readers at the bookstore and then at the women’s retreat I spoke at.
I know some people won’t do booksignings anymore. I certainly understand why. But if we’re smart, I think we can still make them a valuable part of the reader experience.
Have you ever attended a booksigning? What made it enjoyable? Or have you participated in a signing? What worked for you?