|A table full of my books, Mary Connealy's books, and Cheryl Ricker's books at a recent book signing.|
Last week, I read a blog post by Jody Hedlund in which she asked the question "Are book signings worth the time and effort?" and while they might be good for connecting with readers, in her opinion book signings are an outdated method of selling books. You can read that post HERE. Be sure to read the comments as well, as there are lots of points of view expressed there.
Jody's post got me to thinking about my own experience with book signings. Do I think they are worth it? I'd like to pose a few thoughts on why I think book signings are a great idea for writers.
A disclaimer here: I have only been published for a year. I am by no means an expert on book signings or book sales. These are just my opinions, the world as I see it.
|The Marriage Masquerade, my second novel, holding the #2 Fiction Best Seller spot at Christian Book and Gift.|
- People get to put a person to the words you've written. I have a lot of writer friends, and I am always eager to buy the books of people I know. If I have to choose between buying the book of a total stranger or the book of someone I've met, I tend to give a lot more consideration to the person I've met. I'm sure this isn't unique to me.
- You show you're willing to make an effort, and you care about your readers. It's all very well saying that you're busy. But you want to know a secret? The people who come in to the book signing to meet you and buy your book, they are busy, too. They made the effort to come out and see you when they had plenty of other things demanding their time.
- You show good will toward your publisher. If the publisher asks you to do a book signing, GO! The marketing departments are doing all they can to sell your book, and they expect (and rightly so) that you will be part of that team. They're willing to help with the publicity, the posters, getting the books there. All you have to do is show up and be nice. :) The next time an opportunity comes up for them to send an author to a book signing, will you be thier "Go-To" author, or will they skip you in favor of someone more willing to be willing?
- You show good will toward the bookstore. It doesn't do your reputation as an author any good if the bookstore calls your publisher and asks if you can come do a book signing, and you turn them down with an, "It's not worth my time and effort for the number of books I will sell." The bookstore certainly won't be eager to invite you again. No one enjoys hearing a no. Also, it is the bookstore staff that is on the front lines, selling your work. The bookstore isn't obligated to stock your book, or to recommend your book to readers who come into the store. A little good will here can go a long way toward selling books.
- You are representing your publisher and other authors who write for them. If the book signing is a positive, upbeat experience for the book seller and the people who come in, you have paved the way for future events for your publisher and their authors. The bookstore owner/event planner will remember that you were great to work with and be more inclined to go back to that source (your publisher) when it comes time for another event. Face it, if your publisher is flourishing and has a good reputation with book sellers, this can only be good for you.
- Often a book signing is a good chance to meet other authors or share the event. I've been blessed to do shared book signings with Mary Connealy. I can't tell you how helpful this was to me as a new author, to have someone so personable and enjoyable as Mary alongside me while doing a book signing. I always find it easier to talk about someone else's work than my own, and I am a BIGTIME Mary Connealy fan, so pitching her books to customers comes easily. When you share the book signing with another author, you always have someone to talk to between signing books and meeting readers, you can help them as much as they help you by talking about their books to customers, and you have made an industry contact on a personal level that you can't get via email or Facebook, etc.
|Meeting some sweet ladies who had bought my books earlier in the week and returned to have them signed.|
I'd have to say that any opportunity to be a good ambassador for your work and your publisher is one to be embraced. You're sowing the seeds of book sales that might reap you a fine harvest later.
At a book signing, you're not just trying to sell books. You're selling yourself, your publishing house, your fellow authors from that publishing house, and hopefully future books that you might write.
So, what are your thoughts about book signings? Have you had a book signing? Have you been to book signings? Did it affect your perceptions of the author? Did it influence your buying habits?