Status: Drafting the fourth book in the PERILOUS series!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Reflections on a book signing

I  had my first book signings a few weeks ago, and I brought back some notes.

I had one book signing that went really really well, and one that didn't. I read somewhere that the average book signing sells 4 books, so I guess I didn't do too bad either way. But here are my reflections.

What went well:
1) The newsletter. Almost everyone that walked by signed up for my newsletter. Which is great, b/c that means I've got a way to keep in touch with them about sequels, etc. (BTW, if you haven't signed up, you can sign up for my newsletter in the right-hand column.)

2) The raffle. So fun to have something to give away! And I was very pleased with the winner, who happened to buy 3 books.

3) The bookmarks. Everyone took one or two. Even if they didn't buy a book. Future customers? I hope so.

4) The fudge. I gave homemade fudge to both bookstore owners. One even emailed me for the recipe.

What could've been improved:
1) The fliers. Now, this worked at one bookstore and not the other. One bookstore handed out all of my fliers the week prior to the signing. The other? I think they must've found them the day of the signing, b/c they gave them all to me. Or maybe they thought I wanted them back so I could display them on my table. Um, no. They had the dates and times of the signing on them. No good to me afterwards.

2) The traffic. One bookstore stuck me in a prominent position where anyone walking in could see me. The other stuck me at a nice table behind rows of books, nowhere in sight of the coffee shop customers. Even though I got up and walked around to the other customers, very few followed me back to where I was.

3) Communication. I neglected to work out the details of payment with one of the bookstores before hand. When I got there, she suggested a split that would've made it so I LOST money instead of made money. She was willing to renegotiate, but I was embarrassed we hadn't cleared it up before hand.

4) Friends. I invited one group of friends to one signing, and another group to the other signing. Well...I know which group supports me more!

I have another signing scheduled later this month, and I'm excited to see how it goes!

Thoughts? What's worked for you and what hasn't?


Cheree said...

Congrats on the book signing. It's only your first one, so you'll be able to learn from the things you listed that could have been improved. I hope they go even better next time.

Karen Gowen said...

I just think it's weird that the bookstores wanted to purchase the books from you rather than WiDo. Was that to save themselves postage that you had to pay? I think there's a story in this post about why the indie bookstores are floundering. As much as we love them, sometimes they make it difficult to do business with them.

Stephanie Faris said...

I'm not sure where you signed, but I found when I was really active in Music City Romance Writers (RWA chapter here) that the used bookstores were the best for writers. They really promoted the heck out of the signing and a lot of their customers were very avid readers. The big book chains always did a horrible job at helping promote, I thought.

Colene Murphy said...

Huh. That is strange about the payment. Glad you had some success with the signing in there though!

Jen Daiker said...

Wow this was a very informative post. I never thought about how the books get there, who deals with the bookstores and how it all works. This is something I should be aware of.

I'm sorry one didn't work but I'm glad to hear another did! I look forward to how the next one goes!

Question: Are you doing them all in town? In other cities? How far are you traveling?

Mary Gray said...

It's really happening, woman! Congrats! I'm glad you had at least one good experience. I'm sure the next one will be good, too.

Anonymous said...

Tamara, you make even book signings sound fun! Jen and I once went with a wonderful writer, Marilyn Arnold, in St. George, Utah (when we lived there) to a book signing. I was the only one who bought a book from her. She had invited some people; a few came. But they say the main thing is that the bookseller gets to know you. Here's hoping the next signing is one step up, at least, from this one! And you are definitely learning lots about the book-selling process. Hooray!

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

@Cheree--definitley learning! and hopefully I'll have many more signings!

@Karen--sadly, I don't know why. I think they were afraid to buy a book and then have extra in stock. Silly.

@Stephanie--really? I'm doing a signing at a used bookstore in February, I think. I hope that turns out to be the case!

@Coleen--thank you! Yes, I did have some success!

@Jen--oh, traveling. I really want to. Cost-wise, it wouldn't be that much either. The biggest problem is my family. I couldn't leave my two kiddos w/ someone for weeks on end while I travel, and I certainly couldn't take them w/ me. So right now I'm just doing local. we'll see about the future!

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

@Mary--you're alive! Miss you, woman!

@Ann--I'm so glad you bought a book from her. it makes me sad to think of someone not selling any!

Kelly said...

Good to know what works and what doesn't. I hope to have my own signing one day!! Thanks for the tips! And good luck with your next signing!

Jen Daiker said...

Thank you for being so informative!! It's nice to get the inside scoop on waht to prepare for (though I'm sure you can never be prepared enough). I'm sure when the kiddos get older you'll be able to travel more! I wasn't sure how well you'd be able to sell outside the city but I suppose it all depends on bookstores and marketing.

How far apart have you been placing your book signings?

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

@Jen--I've thought about how well I'd be able to sign at non-local book signings,and I think that is more difficult, since people don't know you. so I've thought that when I travel, I'll try to find a local author who is willing to do a book signing w/ me, that way we get that crowd also. My previous book signings were both on the same day. the next one is a month later.

Jamie - I'm a guy, btw! said...

Congrats on your signing (even though it sounded a bit problematic)! I love the photo...makes it 'official', you know?

And a quick question. Is there a way to order a signed copy of Perilous? I would love one, but if not I'll just order online.


Kerrin said...

thanks for the information Tamara.
Do you have an agent? Did you have to do all the promotion yourself?

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

@Jamie--there is! You can order via my website, tamarahartheiner.com. I wonder if I can get that on my blog? I'll try.

@kerrin--I don't have an agent. My publisher is helping where they can, contacting bookstores to let them know I exist, but they are a small press, so 98% of the marketing falls on me. It's a rather tough job! I'm always open to more ideas!

Mary Aalgaard said...

You're a brave soul to sit there. That's the part of publishing that gives me anxiety - not that I'm even close to that.

DL Hammons said...

I like the idea of teaming up with another author and doing a duel book signing. That way you can talk to one another when things are slow.

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