By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund
I tend to shy away from having traditional book signings at bookstores. Most authors these days usually end up twiddling their thumbs at the book table and carrying on a conversation with themselves.
Fortunately, most of my bookstore signings have been moderately successful, especially the one I had last fall with mega-bestselling author Beverly Lewis when she came to my hometown. She drew in droves of readers which in turn helped me immensely.
Nevertheless, even though my book signing experiences have been mostly positive, I still don't do many. I think most authors and publishers agree that book signings don't have the same turnout or significance that they once had (unless you're a mega-bestselling author).
There are a number of reasons why the average author doesn't draw a crowd at book signings. The number of authors has exploded in recent years. Readers are being spread thin among that growing base of authors. And if readers DO want to connect with an author, they can easily do so online.
All that to say, I still occasionally (very sparingly!) agree to do book signings. And one such occasion arose at the end of August a few weeks ago. My book, Unending Devotion, is set in Harrison Michigan, and as a result, the Harrison city clerk (who had read the book) invited me to do a book signing as part of their annual Harrison Street Fair.
Instead of just setting up under a canopy and attempting to sell and sign books, my Bethany House publicist encouraged me to make the signing more of an event. We partnered with a local gift shop to sell my books in their store. My publisher designed posters and sent those to the city to use for promotion. Both the Harrison newspaper and radio station contacted me for interviews. And many locals who had already read Unending Devotion helped spread the buzz.
ALL of that helped immensely in having a fabulous turnout and selling out of books. (Yes, I still get giddy when I think about the bookstore running out!)
But one of the most significant aspects of the day, was the book presentation I had before the signing. In the early stages of planning, I contacted the local library and asked if they would be open to hosting me for a talk about my writing journey and books. They were very agreeable to the idea. And so we lined up the presentation to take place right before the signing.
As it turned out, the library was directly across from the gift shop. After the presentation I was able to easily walk to the book signing (and invite all those who'd come to my presentation to go over).
Through the Harrison event and the other presentations to local groups I've done over the past couple of years, I've realized that my 45 minute talk with a power point slide show is an incredible way to generate interest in my books.
I start my presentation by sharing how I got started writing along with my journey to publication. I talk about the difficulty in finding an agent, how I finally got my big break, and how I broke into traditional publication. I also share a little bit about each of my books including pictures that inspired the characters as well as fun, real-life photos from the era of each book.
At the end of the presentation, I leave time for questions and answers, which allows me to get even more specific and personal about my books and writing journey.
What I've found through each talk is that people not only enjoy hearing about what it takes to become an author, but they also really like being able to get an inside glimpse into my different books. All of the pictures and information combined stir an interest in the audience. Afterward, people who may not have ever thought of purchasing a book are much more eager to do so.
Whether at a street fair, church, or at a DAR ladies group, I always sell far more books after sharing my presentation than I do when I simply go for a signing.
The key is to generate interest in your books, in the subject matter, in the story, and in yourself. Make yourself and your books irresistible! And your book signing will turn from thumb-twiddling to thumb-aching (from all the signatures you sign!).
Writers, have you considered having a presentation with a signing afterward?
Readers, do you think a presentation from an author would make you more likely to go to a book signing? Why or why not?
Don't forget to check out my Media Page for the "Rebellious Heart 20 Book Giveaway." You can enter to win a copy of my new release at several blogs this week!
Also, if you haven't entered the "Fall Into Love Ultimate Giveaway" then head over and do it today! There are awesome prizes including a Kindle Fire and a hammock!
Labels: Book Signings/Parties
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