This past weekend, I did my first book signing for my new book, “Simply: A Collection of Poetry”. I had mixed emotions leading up to the big event, but I must say that having a book signing was one of the best moments of my life. I have never felt so free, so admired, and so empowered.
I learned a lot from the whole process. So, for those who are thinking of joining the literary world, this posting is for you:
Lesson #1: You and your publisher will have different ideas.
Please note that I did not self-publish my first book. I won a contest, and received a book contract, e-book, and two-year marketing campaign for my work. So, I didn’t have the liberty of picking the number of copies for my book to be at the book store. I wanted a larger number, my publisher wanted to keep it small. Both sides had good points on the issue: My idea was that I would market my book like crazy and have a packed house that everyone would buy my book. My publisher was focused on not wasting money and having the right amount of copies. That way, they wouldn’t be out of money with my signing. ultimately, the decision belongs to the publisher if you don’t self publish. I didn’t know that ahead of time, but I have learned from the experience. We did come to an agreement on the number of copies. So the word with your publisher has to be “compromise”.
Lesson #2: The More Marketing, the Better the Turnout
I was a marketing fool for my new book. Don’t think that the publisher will do all the work for you, because they won’t. I set up my book signing and I did the majority of the leg work for everyone to know about the big day. I made an event on Facebook, and I created a Twitter. I posted about the signing every other day, not to annoy people, but to keep them informed. I found creative ways for me to post about what was going on, and the more likes for your comments, the better. I had a countdown, I made comments about my emotions while waiting for this opportunity, and I entertained people up to the book signing day. It was the best choice for me to take on the “selling myself” role, because without it, I wouldn’t have had the turnout that I did. I sent out emails at work, to my friends, and asked others to post my statuses on their pages. I made flyers to hang up in the area where my signing would be, and posted it around work. If you want to sell books, you have to put in hours of marketing. It will be worth it.
Lesson #3: Bring a Book Signing Kit With You
The following things need to be in your kit:
1. Extra copies of your book: Even if the publisher is wrong on numbers, make sure to take care of yourself so that you don’t disappoint your fans. Unfortunately, if the book is sold in the establishment, you will lose some money, but at least the book will be in a reader’s hands and they can show and tell about it to others. Loosing a little bit of dough will pay off in the long run. I sold out of my book…twice (I will explain later) but having the extra books made me look amazing to those who really wanted it.
Mints and Water: You might end of talking a lot, and there is nothing worse than a dry mouth/throat or bad breath. Keep the mints in your pocket, and the water on the floor next to you at all times. Both saved me.
A good pen: Most people will tell you to use black or blue ink. I chose to use purple, but I spent the money for a great flow writing pen, and one that wouldn’t smudge. It looked great in the books, and has become my signature color. I won’t change my purple notes for anything. And bring a Sharpie with you also, you might end up signing other things that are listed next.
Bookmarks, a picture of yourself, and a picture of the Book: You have to have these items. I found a great bookmark maker online for free, make my bookmarks, and laminated them (luckily, I received the color ink and laminating for free…use the sources that you have). I made around 50 bookmarks and 45 were gone when I finished. The left over five I put my autograph and left them on the cashier’s stations for some random person to have. On the bookmark, make sure to have your name, name of the book, your ISBN # and where to purchase it. Lastly, have a picture of yourself or of the book cover on the bookmark so that people recognize you or your work. Have a picture of yourself and the book cover on an easel for people to see right when they walk in, it makes you seem and look like a celebrity.
Snacks: I read many sources that said this is a good and a bad idea. I came up with a creative way of getting your snacks for the big day. Ask around to see if someone is starting a new bakery business and wants to advertise. If you find someone, tell them they can set up a display and have samples of their treats for attendees. They can not charge for the snacks, that would make you look bad. That way, you aren’t loosing money, and they are gaining business. You won’t have to worry about people coming over just for your food, because, it isn’t your worry or your food. It worked great for me, and the girls who set up the snack display received an order for a cake just for being there!!!
Other things to consider: a photographer (I bribed a soccer player to do it, and my publisher liked her photos so much they paid her, not me), business cards to have all over your table, and grab a Square (if you are at a place where you can sell your own books, the Square will take credit cards).
Lesson #4: You are What You Wear
Pick an outfit that you are comfortable with. Everyone is different. I do suggest going shopping and getting something new to wear because you are a new person after you become published. My style was a little different, but I liked what I picked to wear. I had black pants, black shirt with a white tiger, and black wedges with glitter on the heels. The only thing that I would change would be to wear All-Stars instead of the heels. I am not a heel wearing girl, but I wanted to look fancy. I will say to you, “Just Be You”. Make sure that you are comfortable in your clothing, because you will be running around quite a bit, and will have to stand for hugs, handshakes, and get low if small children come to talk to you. Plus, you don’t want to sweat all over those who are there to meet you. I wore moderate make-up, because I didn’t want to look like someone in a beauty pageant or a drag queen, and no perfume or cologne. Someone might be allergic to you.
Lesson #5: Have Fun!
Whatever number of people who attend your signing, have a great time. Be social, talk to anyone who comes in. Have your photographer take pictures with each person who takes time to buy the book. Post the pictures on social networks for the world to see. And always sign each book with a nice message. It is the least that you can do for people who purchased your writing. I had a blast with my signing. The bookstore sold out of the books they had, my publisher came later with more books, and they sold out too (that is how I sold out twice). Everyone left happy, but not as happy as I was in having the event.
I can’t remember the last time I was that happy. I now know that I am meant to be a writer. So, I am on the marketing trail again, looking for the next book signing location. Happy times, happy times. So, in closing, make yourself a tagline, and here is mine:
“Simply” Love Life!
You can see more about my first signing on my Facebook and Twitter pages: Jessyca Mathews