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Book Signings anyone?–Karen Vaughan

PLEASE BUY A COPY ???????????????????

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July 20th 2013 was a bright sunny day where I live in Peterborough, Canada. Where was Karen Vaughan? She was at Chapters a large book conglomerate and a fabulous place to be. I was not perusing the stacks this day. I was engaged in tooting my own horn and having Daytona Dead shown off.

Sure I wanted people to come and buy the book but I also enjoyed the interaction with the customers. What I really enjoyed was the support of local friends who came to visit me.

My longtime friend Sheri came by to have a picture taken with me and the four books of mine that she owns.  We also sat and chatted for a bit with the others that were there. I did get three sales for DAYTONA DEAD and a sale for DEAD COMIC STANDING that a staff member recommended for a customer. Near the end of the day who should walk through the front doors sporting a huge Hibiscus plant but my friend Marion. Last year it was Icicle Pansies. Just having that much support at a special event meant more than sales.  My husband was there as well and Jim hung posters and talked up the books to anyone who came by the table.  It was a great day. I love talking to people and it was something I hated as a child. This is one thing that being a published writer must do to get their name and their books out there. It’s not a business for sissies. I do wish that I could do more of this if I weren’t a starving artist.  Overall it was great day.

Tips for handling signings

By Mary Janice Davidson and advice by Traci Bell –Author

Call, and keep calling. The first call is to set up the signing. Subsequent calls are to find out if the store has ordered your books, if they’re promoting the signing, if they’ve got you on the calendar. Ask if there’s anything you can do to help. Apologize for bothering them, but don’t be too apologetic… your book signing helps their business.

If you’re bringing the books yourself, you’ll need to be in contact with your publisher to make sure the books are en route. I have several publishers, and one of them never misses a signing and always gets my stuff to me in plenty of time. That’s the one I only call once. Another of my publishers must be asked, reminded, reminded again and, in the end, nagged unmercifully. Be prepared to go either route.

Promote on your end. Tell your friends and family. Tell their friends. Make an announcement on any list serves you belong to. Even if no one on your list is a local, they might have friends who are. Make up an insert to slip into every bill you pay, every letter you mail. On the insert, put your name, your book, the date and time and place of the signing. You could do it on your computer for nothing, or get fancy and have something made up at a copy shop. Send a press release to your local newspaper. Post the info on your web page. There are several inexpensive ways to get the word out. Obviously, the more effort you put in, the greater chances of increased attendance.

Dress comfortably but nicely for the signing. I prefer the nicely vague term “business casual” to describe my preferred way to dress for a signing: comfortable pants or skirt, nice shirt, understated makeup and jewelry (especially if you’re a man). Who wants to watch a sweaty author squirm in an uncomfortable suit (or shiver in shorts and a tank top)? Not I. Probably not you, either.

Bring stuff. I like to bring a water bottle (or can of pop, or glass of blood, or whatever tipple suits your fancy), my business cards, lots of pens (you’d be amazed at how many people walk off with your pen), and any promotional items you want to show or share. Author Lisa Hendrix has this to say about things to bring: “I take a blowup of my cover, autographed copy stickers, a pen plus a spare or refill, breath mints, glitter or confetti to sparkle up the table, a paper table cloth just in case, and stuff like tape and markers to make my own signs if necessary (sometimes the store owner just has no clue at all — or, as happened to a friend, the person who set up the signing has embezzled money and is now on the lam and everything is up in the air). I do not take candy or cookies. If the store owner wants to do treats, that’s fine, but I find that candy attracts mostly kids and deadbeats who want to eat for free, not buyers. This is especially true in a mall situation, where you’re sitting out in front of the store. Stella Cameron once had to fend off a woman who came by and dumped a whole bowl of M&Ms into her purse — and later swooped back in for seconds!”

Talk, talk, talk. Don’t afraid to smile and wave and greet customers. I like a cheerful, “Hey, come over here and check out my books!” I never fail to be surprised at how many of them walk over like obedient zombies.

I know it seems scary, but please don’t sit there in a huddled lump. Talk to people. At the very least, make eye contact. At my first signing, I hid in my chair with my nose in a book for the first half hour, until someone bought a copy. That gave me the confidence to look around and talk to people. The result? In the next half hour, I sold four more books.

If the person you’re talking to isn’t a fan of your genre, try to recommend books in a genre they are interested in: “Oh, my husband loves True Crime! Have you tried any of Ann Rule’s books?” You might not make a sale, but you’ll make a positive impression… and who knows where that could lead?

Brenda Ray, author of The Midwife’s Song (http://www.karmichaelpress.com), shares her tips for engaging customers: “At a book signing you are not promoting books so much as yourself. I try to focus on people. I stand and speak to people passing the table. If someone stops at the table and looks at the books, I put one in their hand, then engage them in conversation: “This is my new book. It’s about… Do you read romance?” If their answer is negative, I might say, “Well, I’d appreciate you telling your friends and family who do read romance that you met me and my books are available.” This may be a good time to hand them a promotional business card or bookmark so they can pass it on to others who are interested. By putting the book in their hands, I’m not telling them to buy it; I’m making them feel comfortable picking it up and reading the back blurb if they so choose. I even talk to the kids. That lady in a hurry, who does not read romance, may not ever pick up your book but she will remember you were nice and down-to-earth and will tell her four sisters who are avid romance readers that she met you. No act of kindness is ever wasted. I live by that and it’s never failed me.”

Go to other book signings. Observe the authors and how they interact with the public. Check out their promotional stuff. How’d you find out about the signing? If it was a newspaper ad, consider investing in one. If it was through the bookstore, think about doing your next signing through that chain (or through the independent). Smile and look over their book. If it’s even remotely interesting, buy it (if it’s not your cup of tea, autographed books make swell presents). Introduce yourself as a fellow author and trade marketing tips. Everything you see and hear at a book signing can be directly applied (or firmly crossed off your list of Things Never To Do At My Own Signing) to your book signing.

Fellow author Traci Bell had this tale to share: “Beside the bank of elevators I took to get to my floor there was a small chain bookstore. At one of those tacky plywood tables sat a lovely older lady with a stack of romance novels in front of her. There was no signage whatsoever, and no one else around. So being friendly, and a fan of romance, I inquired if perhaps there was a special on the books on the table. The lady beamed and blushed and said ‘Not really, my dear, I wrote the books, and am here to sign them for people’. I glanced down at the titles. Completely embarrassed, yet in utter awe, I replied, ‘Yours were the first romance books I ever read, Ms. Woodiwiss, and I am honored to meet you.’” Yet another reason to attend book signings… you never know who you’ll meet!

I’ll tell you one more not-to-be-missed benefit of book signings: they make you feel real. I’ve sold ten books to various publishers, and still worry someone will write fraud on my forehead when I introduce myself as a writer. But at a book signing, with your own books in front of you… well, it’s the real thing. It takes care of the fraud fretting quite nicely.

 That was fantastic and Amusing advice. 

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2 thoughts on “Book Signings anyone?–Karen Vaughan”

  1. Good tips here, I especially like the one about observing other authors at their signings. Definitely going to share this post.

    P.S. Congratulations on your first book signing, I’m glad it was a success.

    Like

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