Do Book Signings make you uncomfortable?
It is said that many writers are introverts. (I’m an exception to that rule.) That makes it hard for them to do direct marketing. They tend to rely on the safety of hiding behind the electrons on the internet, or better yet, behind a person that will DO the marketing for them with electrons–a double layer of protection.
It is inevitable as a writer that you will have to do some public appearances. So start where you are comfortable. I love softball. You may have noticed from the 4 books I’ve written so far on the subject. I’m comfortable on and around a softball field. A natural place for me to set up book signings is at the ball park. I have a canopy, table, and sign. I’m ready! After getting permission from the park, of course, I set up shop where I can watch the games in between talking to readers. It makes me feel less vulnerable. I can talk to the folks that approach my tent, not just about my books, but about the ball games. It gives them a chance to talk about what they’re interested in, rather than just listening to a sales pitch.
When I do book signings at a store, I prefer to have another author with me. It’s more encouraging and you have someone to cover your table when you need a break. Some stores don’t like this, but with a little work, you can probably convince them. If someone approaches your table, looks, but doesn’t purchase, give them an easy escape. Don’t make them feel bad. I start by asking what they like to read. If they say history books, I say I don’t have any but have you tried such-and-such author? Even better if your table partner has a different genre than you do. You can cover more ground. I’m surprised how many people purchase my books as a gift, even after they tell me they aren’t interested in mysteries (or softball, etc). If you skip the hard sell, folks feel more comfortable talking with you. If they like you, they may buy simply for that reason.
Nothing seems to draw people to a table more than a giveaway. Create a basket filled with goodies that compliment your book. Romance? Try candles, a music CD, and lotion. You don’t necessarily want to put a copy of your book in the basket though. You want folks to BUY your book, not wait and see if they win it. Make it free to enter, but perhaps they get an EXTRA chance to win with a purchase. You can use the emails you collect for your own advertising, but I would HIGHLY discourage selling your lists. It’s poor form. Make sure to put it on the sign up form that you won’t share their information–then DON’T!
Do you have any ideas for book signings or marketing that you would like to share? Please do!! As authors or consumers, your input could really help a struggling introvert.