Some of these tips are no-brainers (or seem it), but my tips might be of use to any writer planning an event in the near future. Let me know if you have any to add to this list in the comments section below.
If you read nothing else of this post, read this!
Number one tip for running a bookstore signing:
TAKE LEAFLETS (or similar) TO GIVE OUT AS FREEBIES
People love a free gift, and even if they just shove it in their pocket or handbag, it will remind them about you and your book when they get home or later in the week. These delayed sales might outnumber the face-to-face sales from the actual hours spent at the event itself! People will also quite often take a flier, walk away, read it and return, so get ready with that award-winning smile!
2. Go with a game plan. How long will you be in store for? Do you have a target for sales? Finding out what other non-celeb writers normally achieve in that particular store is a good start – then try to smash that record!
3. Introduce yourself to the Manager when you arrive, and be friendly towards other staff. They might help send people over to your stall while they’re working if they like you!
4. Make sure you know how you will receive the money from sales. Barcodes are essential. This means the store can sell them at the tills and keep a tally of sales for you. It’s easy to lose count otherwise, and you don’t want to be handling money when you’re busy promoting.
5. You should have thought of this when writing the book in the first place, but just remind yourself who your target market is (e.g. women in their 30’s, retired men). If you only have 300 leaflets, stick to handing them out to that type of customer so you don’t waste your publicity.
6. Don’t be afraid to use a trolley to carry all your bits in – and park as close to the venue as is possible!
8. Create an eye-catching display – use signs, put a lot of copies of your book on the table, make pretty fans with bookmarks, get some ‘on theme’ helium balloons, have some flowers in a vase – all to make it look more pretty, approachable and friendly.
9. Don’t just sit there. Work the room. You never know where offering someone a freebie and an opening line may take you. Hint – be able to summarise your book in one sentence!
10. I also found it useful to have a laptop with me. People may be reluctant to disturb you, but if it goes quiet you can work on your next project and look professional at the same time.
11. Don’t hang about your table all day. I found that people approached it more freely when I was off ‘working the floor’ talking to customers. They might have felt a little intimidated with me guarding the stand, so I recommend leaving it as a display stand and get off your bum and circulate.
12. Is there a coffee shop in store? If so, put fliers on the tables.
13. Leaving the place tidy creates a good impression. Out of courtesy to the book store, I also took a quick look around the store and toilets 30 mins or so before I planned to leave to see if any of my fliers had been dumped or dropped… Then I gave them out again to more customers before I left! That’s recycling initiative for you!
14. Finally, make sure you ask the Manager if it would be possible to leave some copies with the store at cost price. They will be happy to hold some books in stock if the event went well.
If you’ve not got an event booked in for the near future, why not approach your local book store? They’re normally quite happy to help, and if you don’t ask you don’t get! Planning the event takes some doing, but it’s worth it in the end.
Best of luck with any events you have coming up – let me know how it went!