An exciting step for any author is setting up a book signing—an in-person event for readers and fans to meet you, purchase copies, and get your autograph. To set up a book signing, certain steps need to be taken as an indie author to make sure things run smoothly—the responsibility falls squarely on your shoulders to initiate and run the event. Here are five steps to check off your list before the big day:
1. Ordering copies. If you are an indie author, you have probably opted to either order print-on-demand copies through CreateSpace or another printer, such as Ingram (Lightning Source is for larger orders, and Spark is for smaller orders). You’ll want to have a rough head count to make sure you’ve ordered enough copies to bring to the signing—and if you do run out, bring a blank sheet of paper for individuals to give their address for the copy to be shipped to (they need to pay you first), or have a tablet nearby if they’d like to order a copy through your online distributors (they could log into their Amazon account and order it that way, just to increase your sales for that day).
This is the most important thing about a book signing—ensuring that potential buyers have the ability to purchase your book!
2. Hiring a publicist or marketing the book yourself to local magazines/news shows. Many indie authors invest in publicists who will do a lot of the “heavy-lifting” involved in marketing—they will proposition local magazines/newspapers and TV shows to schedule interviews for you.
You can also do this yourself, but it will require a lot of work and persistence, and the ability to sell yourself/your product. Local news outreach is a great way to amp up excitement for your book signing, and is absolutely necessary if you’d like attendees to be those who are not your friends/family.
3. Marketing your book signing via social media. Hopefully by the time you’ve published your book, you have numerous social media platforms that are regularly updated about your book. Be sure to post your signing to those forums and send a newsletter to your mailing list subscribers detailing the time, date and location of the book signing, as well as how much your book is going to be and how people can pay (cash only? Check? Credit card? Will you have a credit card reader if this is not done at a book store?). Don’t forget to make Events pages on Facebook and Goodreads and invite all your friends, including all of the previous information.
4. If the venue is a bookstore, discussing various topics with them beforehand. For instance, how will the books be purchased? It would be assumed that readers will purchase the books from the store and not from you, but as the author you need to figure out whether the store will purchase the books from the printer themselves (CreateSpace or Ingram) or from you.
Also, be sure to discuss setting up a deal as a consignment author in their store—that way, they will continue to carry your book even after the event is over. For an indie author, most local bookstores will be the only locations that agree to this currently. Also, what are they going to provide? A table and chair? Are you expected to bring all the items needed for the signing? Can you bring refreshments/snacks to the signing?
5. And finally—planning out the event’s activities. It’s not just about “giving out your autograph anymore.” Book signings/parties are a great way to meet readers face-to-face, have personal interactions with your fans, and to share your personality. Fun activities can include games, a Q&A session, a reading from the book, a discussion about which actors you’d like to play the characters in a movie version, etc. Have fun with it!
Also, consider bringing some sort of “swag” with you—bookmarks, posters, little items that have meaning in the book, etc. Maybe even dress up like a character from the book. Ultimately you should remember: these people are here to support you and your book. You have touched their lives in some meaningful way, and they want to show their gratitude. The best way to make some lifelong fans is by being pleasant, accessible, humble, and to make it an enjoyable experience for everyone.
Until next time, keep writing and keep dreaming!