Sure, it’s fulfilling to see your book in print, whether it be a perfectly edited self-published copy or a traditionally published “cousin” of the thousands of other books lining the bookstore shelves!
No matter how your book is published, however, you still need to put the requisite time into marketing your book to the public. Many authors hire a professional or college kid versed social media to get the word out. They also task that professional or college kid with creating a website on WordPress, etc.
But the one marketing area authors, whether green or seasoned, shrink from playing in is this one: setting up book signing/reading/selling gigs at bookstores, libraries, senior centers, retirement communities, book clubs, literary fests, temples, churches, schools, and artist holiday boutiques!
You can definitely hire someone to do the dirty work for you — make the phone calls and send the emails necessary to book a gig. It’s more effective to actually build business relationships by contacting the people in charge of these events yourself!
In the long run, contacting these folks directly helps you, too. Think about it. You’re shelling out between $25 to $100 for a booth or table, depending on how popular the location, as well as if it’s a for-profit or non-profit venue. Wouldn’t you like to know who you’re dealing with? Who’s taking your money? Are these folks reputable?
Although the ship has already sailed for 2019 holiday gigs, come January 2020, you can start working on another time people purchase gifts for the holidays: Easter! During the month of January, spend 30-minutes per week contacting the above types of locations (You’ve probably got some not listed here. You can also Google venues near you) and set up 2 to 6 gigs, depending on your pocketbook, to display and sell your books this coming spring!
Let’s face it. As self-published authors, setting up our own book signings sucks! Of course we can hire a family member, college student, retired person, or an upworks.com professional to do the job. But it’s a moneythang, right? We don’t want to spend it! Instead, we thrust aside the next book we are itching to work on, and commit tedious hours per week to securing speaking gigs on our most recently published book.
We force ourselves to sound bright and cheerful on the phone as we pitch our book signing events, via phone and email, to dozens of book stores, organizations, associations, fancy restaurants and bars, religious sites, retirement villages, conferences, and arts & crafts fairs. (How’s that for the longest run-on sentence in history? Not!)
Of course we’ve kept an Excel sheet or notebook on who we spoke to (the manager or event coordinator’s contact information), name and address of venue (book store, etc.), and dates we contacted them (including their feedback).
Way to go! We’ve landed four gigs over the next three months, which we’ve dutifully written down and yellow-highlighted in our monthly calendars. Our phone calendars are a nice back-up, but printing our view our upcoming gigs on a nice big calendar pad!
Now we have to get the word out. Even the most extroverted of us find it scary as hell to market our own wares. Stay tuned for Part 2….
In recent years, I’ve had lots of good experiences and sales when book signing at a Barnes & Noble — I say “recent years” because back in 2006 when Deadly Choices, my award-winning police procederal came out, the only two people who showed up at the Evanston B & N were the mom and granddad of CJ, my young son’s best friend!
Becky, the manager at the Greensboro B & N, is always fabulous to me. When Fatal Reaction came out in 2015, we had 27 mystery readers in the audience! Greensboro is quite a literary community, and they’re happy to explore a new author! This June, 12 devotees filled the chairs to hear me read from Psychobabble, my most recent psychological suspense novel. It’s all good.
But when I flew into Chicago to publicize Psychobabble, arriving fifteen minutes before my scheduled book signing, the floor manager said he knew nothing about my Event — this after I’d called three days in advance to confirm!
The manager with whom I’d confirmed, he confided, quit earlier in the day. Nothing was set up. No downstairs entrance sign announcing my Event. Upstairs, no chairs, tables, podium, or mic. The overhead music was blaring!
My heart pounded like a furnace turned full throttle as I spotted a handful of my friends and family members climbing the long staircase to the second floor. ADHD people thrive on chaos; we can problem-solve almost any situation. But this time I felt lambasted. What to do??
Then I overheard a senior manager speaking to the younger man who’d blurted the bad news. “Breathe in, breathe out. Slow down. You’ve got this.”
Hearing the mantra I tell myself every single day, my heart softened with compassion. The young man looked up as I approached, his forehead creased. “You’ve got this,” I said.
Eight minutes, three rows of chairs, and one podium later, I formally welcomed the 30 fans who had graced this evening to be there for me. I was so touched, it took me a moment to find my voice — I thought it hightailed out of here with the manager who’d quit earlier in the day!
Five minutes into my unrehearsed presentation, I signalled my son to click off the video. Then I just began to speak from my heart. I sold 9 books that night. Everything worked out as it should. That nice young manager invited me back again, this time to an event well publicized in the store.