Last time I talked about location and then, as usual, found myself running out of room. I was surprised I had so much to say about this, but I shouldn’t have been: after you’ve done a bunch of these at various kinds of places, you learn what works really well and what just doesn’t.
So: in addition to location, which is key, here are some other things you want to consider.
~~Timing: if everyone in your town is a huge football fan, maybe you don’t want to schedule your signing on a Sunday afternoon. Or Monday evening. If you’ve written a book about encaustic painting and the local encaustic group is taking a road trip to an out-of-town exhibit, you might not want to schedule a signing during the time they’re all away. Think about your audience and when they’ll have time to stop by and meet you and see your new book. Evenings, when they have someone to watch their children? Weekends, when they’re not working? At noon, when they take a break from their studio?
~~Letting people know about it: you’ll want to post on your blog, send out info in your newsletter, post on Facebook and Twitter and your Amazon.com author’s page. Think about flyers posted at local businesses, messages to your on-line groups that might be interested and phone calls to all your aunts.
~~Who provides the books? This is a biggie. Will you buy the books and bring them and sell them, or will your host buy them, sell them, and hand them over to you for signing? It might seem simple, but it never is. Some small business owners don’t want the expense of ordering your book, and they’d prefer you bring copies for sale. Others will carry your book anyway and need to make money from the sales. While you may have a preference and can mention it if they ask what you’d like to do, they’re the host. They’re providing space and access to their customers, so you need to work with them.
And that leads to~~
~~ What you give in return: You arrive on time, cheerful, ready to schmooze. Bring a couple of non-smearing pens for signing (I like Sharpies, even though I don’t like the way they smell). Bring your business cards. If yours is a how-to book, bring a project to work on, something that ties in with the book and that gives even shy people a way to start a conversation with you about what you do. Maybe you’ll offer to do a make-and-take. Maybe you’ll offer a short demo every half hour–those are things to discuss when you approach someone about hosting a signing. When we did a signing on Halloween, we brought a plastic jack-o-lantern full of candy to share. While it might be easier to play The Diva Authoress and sit and wait for your fans to arrive and laud you, it’s much more fun to figure out ways to interact with people who stop to see what you’ve got on that table over there by the newspaper rack.
With a little planning, you can have signings that are fun and encouraging. You may not sell a ton of books, but who knows? Maybe you will. Or maybe you’ll meet someone who wants to commission a piece from you or would like to have you teach a workshop or participate in an artwalk or open studio weekend. You never know. Or maybe you’ll meet someone who’s interested in the same things that interest you, and what’s better than that?
Good luck, and have fun!
Ricë also blogs at The Voodoo Cafe.
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