Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Tuesday Tips: Self Promotion

I love the writing part of being an author. As difficult as that is, It's easy compared to the work associated with Self Promotion.

Self Promotion has several facets:

  • Social media (FB, Twitter, Web)
  • Blogging (You are reading my blog!)
  • Email lists (No Spam!)
  • Community (Lit conferences)
  • Book Signings (face to face)

Today I will talk about in person book signings.

They sound easy, show up with books and a pen? Right? It's a lot more than that if you want to be professional. Many of these tips are hard earned lessons that I want to save you from! Many of them are because you will have to sit there for four hours, chained to your table.

There are different kinds. Some are associated with Books Stores. People buy the books from the store then you sign them. Other times you must sell the books yourself. Be prepared for both. Know what it will be in advance.

Here is a list of the things I have learned to make my book signing events easy:
  • Pee before the event. Seriously, DO NOT FORGET.
  • Take some bottles of water. (snack bars too) 
  • $200 in $5s and $1s for change in a small cash box.
  • Be able to accept Credit Cards. I use SQUARE.
  • Get a little VISA/MASTERCARD sign.
  • Be willing to take checks.
  • Make sure you cell phone is fully charged and you have a backup battery.
  • Bring along more books than you think you'll need.
  • Lots of pens. I like sharpies.
  • Business cards with your email address.
  • Book stands. Because you want people to see them.
  • Book marks, ad cards, signage with QR Codes for direct access to Digital Editions.
  • QR Codes specifically for KindleUnlimited
  • Banners and signage. I have an 8 foot table banner. I plan on more because situations vary.
  • Freebies like candy, bookmarks, links to free online content.
  • A tablecloth. Makes everything nicer.
  • A bowl for collecting business cards for a chance at a free, signed, pre-release edition of your next novel.
  • A travel case to pack all of this stuff.

Most of the authors I know are Introverts with a capital "I". The most difficult thing for them to bring is a willingness to shake a lot of hands. Answer a lot of questions and simply chat happily with strangers.

You need to have a memorized one minute plot overview of each story. You will need to think of answers to questions like, "Does it have any romance?" or "Is this suitable for a 14 year old?" or "Is this violent?". I like to answer with the movie rating system. "These books are rated R. If your son likes the movie Terminator he'll love these."

Comparisons are a good thing to think about in advance. "This story is mash-up of The Martian and The Expanse!" You have to be excited about your stories. For real. Never bad-mouth your own books. Talk to the people. Introduce yourself. Find out what they like. Personalize the signatures. Make them fun. 

One last very important thing: Don't ever get discouraged if you don't sell any books.

--Every book signing should result in notes for how to make the next one better!

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